Jewish SA Councilor heckled for mentioning Mandela, wearing Magen David

Jewish Councilor Daniel Shay found himself as a target of scrutiny when he invoked the name of Nelson Mandela during an Israel-Palestine debate, leading to heckling from opposition councilors, in a City of Johannesburg council meeting on Wednesday.

During Shay’s speech, an opposition councilor interrupted, stating, “Speaker, on a point of order, that one cannot speak of Mandela when Mandela was against Zionists. He must speak about Hertzog, Jan Van Riebeek, and the rest.”

Tensions escalated as some councilors began chanting “Free Palestine.” In response, Speaker of Council Margaret Arnolds appealed for order in the chambers, saying, “Councilors, can I have order, please? Councilors, can we not heckle the councilor? Councilors, can we please not do this?”

Nelson Mandela addresses parliament in Cape Town, 370 (credit: REUTERS)

After a few minutes, order appeared to be restored before flaring up again.

The debate quickly shifted to the topic of wearing religious symbols

Adding to the turmoil, a complaint arose regarding Councilor Shay’s choice of attire. Another councilor questioned whether Shay’s tie, adorned with a star symbolizing Israel, was permitted in the council. Shay clarified that the emblem was The Star of David, prompting him to assert, “If they have issues with Jewish religious symbols, they must say it out loud.”


Coming to Shay’s defense, DA caucus leader Belinda Kayser-Echeozonjoku emphasized the importance of protecting freedom of religion. She stated, “Speaker, freedom of religion is protected by the constitution. It is the first time in these chambers that someone’s religion or expression of their religion is being questioned. Can I ask that we tread cautiously?”