JOHANNESBURG - The South African Jewish community has increased security in the wake of a surge of anti-Semitic sentiment sweeping the country, the President of the SA Jewish Board of Deputies said on Friday.
The Star reported that many synagogues around the country have increased security in recent weeks thanks to greater terrorism and anti-Semitic threats against the Jewish community since the war in Gaza.
"In terms of the level of anti-Semitism we're seeing on the internet, we've never seen such levels of pure hatred," Zev Krengel said.
"We have also had negative comments, directed from representatives of Cosatu and the ANC, which are exremely worrying." he continued.
Krengel said the South African environment is becoming more difficult and hostile for Jews.
"There is also a concern of international threats as South Africa has by far the largest Jew community in Africa. There is the potential danger from groups like al-Shabaab who have openly threatened Jews," Krengel said.
Krengel did say he has to compliment the police for stepping up security as and when requested and the President Zuma for denouncing any and all anti-Semitism.
"We have to thank the authorities and the upper structures of government for taking our concerns seriously," he said.
Krengel said he thinks it is very sad, considering South Africa's history of discrimination, that some citizens can feel and openly portray sentiments of anti-Semitism.
"As a South African, I'm saddened by these views as they don't represent the values for which the country has fought."
When questioned about the Board's stance on the conflict in the Middle East, Krengel said, "Our views are in line with those of the ANC and the United Nations. We have fully supported the Palestinian state and we won't deviate from that.
"We also believe Israel has a right to its own state. We support peace and autonomy for both sides."
"However, our first priority, as the SA Jewish Board, is South African Jews. We want to ensure their safety and ensure that they don't suffer as a result of what is happening in the Middle East."
Krengel said that the extra security measures should last until the major Jewish holidays are over and more long-term, if necessary.