Positioning Statement

The SAJBD is the umbrella representative spokesbody and civil rights lobby of the SA Jewish community. It promotes the safety and welfare of South African Jewry, including combating antisemitism in all its forms, and builds bridges of friendship and understanding between Jews and the broader South African population.   

Jewish Affairs - Chanukah 2016

Whereas the Rosh Hashanah issue of Jewish Affairs concentrated on the South African Jewish community and its history, to mark the community’s 175th anniversary, this issue has a more general focus, with articles looking at aspects of, amongst other themes, Diaspora Jewish history, Israel and the Holocaust. 

Ahmed Kathrada legacy will live on, says SAJBD

The South African Jewish Board of Deputies joins all South African in mourning the loss of Ahmed Kathrada, one of the founding fathers of our democracy and anti-Apartheid stalwart.  The heroism and self-sacrifice that he showed in taking a stand against injustice will be his enduring legacy.  Our condolences go to his family and friends.

David Saks

No basis for Israel-apartheid analogy

Confronted with the charge that Israel is equivalent to Apartheid South Africa, it is tempting simply to retort that it is probably the only country in the Middle East that is not an apartheid state. One could further make an ostensibly compelling case as to why this is so. Take the example of Iran, where the only non-Muslims allowed to become Members of Parliament are those elected by their respective communities to the five seats reserved for religious minorities. Does this not call to mind the separate seats for ‘Bantu’ and ‘Coloured’ representatives elected on separate voters’ rolls in the apartheid parliament? In Yemen, there reportedly remain restrictions on Jews with regard to places of residence - Group Areas Act?

Wendy Kahn

Campaign spurs antisemitic actions

At the opening of this year’s “Israel Apartheid Week” (IAW), former President Kgalema Motlanthe warned the BDS organisers of the event against allowing antisemitism to creep into their campaign: “Antisemitic actions couched in the language of human rights, and disguised by its discourse cannot be countenanced. Such actions not only undermine the humanity of a people, and entrench a painful history, but also serve to undermine our commitment to principled and moral action. It is crucial that the struggle for human rights and an end to oppression be absolutely severed from such religious intolerance and bigotry.”

Is BDS antisemitic? You be the judge.

Watch now
David Saks

Another Take on Israel Apartheid Week (IAW)

“Israel Apartheid Week will be a trap for Israel and will move us closer to the liquidation of the Zionist entity”. Thus did Radio Islam announce the launch of IAW earlier this week, and in all honesty, it was refreshing to hear the true purpose of that initiative presented in such clear, unambiguous terms. For IAW’s proponents, the key to Israel’s demise lies in pushing a global boycott campaign against it. As the thinking goes, just as white South Africa was brought to its knees in this way, so will “Apartheid Israel” eventually be consigned to history.

Gabi Zollman

MIDDLE EAST CONFLICT FLARES AT WITS

For the SA Union of Jewish Students (SAUJS) at Wits, this year’s instalment of the anti-Israel propaganda festival known as “Israel Apartheid Week” (IAW) got off to a predictably rocky start. On arriving on Monday morning to set up our stands on the section of the Great Hall piazza allocated to SAUJS, as per agreement with the University, we were aggressively confronted by Palestinian Solidarity Committee members, who attempted to remove or tear down our displays and jostled, verbally abused and threatened our members. 

Israel Apartheid Week results in incidences of antisemitism

It was both predictable and inevitable that this year’s Israel Apartheid Week (IAW) would result in incidences of antisemitism. The Piazza at the Wits University Campus was divided into two separate areas to allow space to both pro-Israel under the banner of SA Union of Jewish Students (SAUJS) and the BDS movement under the banner of the Palestinian Solidarity Committee (PSC) to present their views.

Israel Apartheid Week results in incidences of antisemitism

It was both predictable and inevitable that this year’s Israel Apartheid Week (IAW) would result in incidences of antisemitism. The Piazza at the Wits University Campus was divided into two separate areas to allow space to both pro-Israel under the banner of SA Union of Jewish Students (SAUJS) and the BDS movement under the banner of the Palestinian Solidarity Committee (PSC) to present their views.

David Saks

When anti-Zionism spills into anti-Semitism, evil follows

When can criticism of the State of Israel be regarded as fair and legitimate and can it be so extreme and unbalanced as to constitute, in practice if not always in intent, a form of antisemitism? For some, there is no such boundary. In their view, attacks on Israel and the Zionist ideology in general can never be equated to attacks on Jews per se, whether defined as an ethnic or as a religious community.

Gauteng on the threshold horrific xenophobic violence

Gauteng appears to be on the threshold of yet another outbreak of horrific xenophobic violence against foreign nationals. Already, there have been serious incidents of arson and looting targeting immigrants in both Johannesburg and Tshwane, while tensions are being further heightened by an upsurge in inflammatory rhetoric, particularly on social media.

Gauteng on the threshold horrific xenophobic violence

Gauteng appears to be on the threshold of yet another outbreak of horrific xenophobic violence against foreign nationals. Already, there have been serious incidents of arson and looting targeting immigrants in both Johannesburg and Tshwane, while tensions are being further heightened by an upsurge in inflammatory rhetoric, particularly on social media.

The SAJBD urges South Africans to avoid resorting to antisemitic hate speech

The South African Jewish Board of Deputies urges South Africans, when commenting on issues of public concern, to avoid resorting to antisemitic hate speech, including sinister invocations of behind-the-scenes Jewish financial domination. It is becoming more commonplace for those in leadership to refer to “Jewish based entities” somehow being behind financial institutions and manipulating politics through economic power. 

SAJBD sent submission on the ‘Prevention and Combating of Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill’

The South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) has sent its submission on the ‘Prevention and Combating of Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill’ to the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development for consideration.
The much awaited Bill aims to give effect to South Africa’s obligations, in terms of both our Constitutional and international human rights instruments, concerning racism and discrimination; to provide for the offence of hate crimes and hate speech; as well as the prosecution and prevention of these crimes.

David Saks

Op-Ed: Anti-Jewish rhetoric and conspiratorialism are signs of an unhealthy society

The growing prevalence of hostile racial rhetoric, of which anti-Jewish conspiracy theories are just one part, poses a serious problem to the national well-being.

You know that a society is in trouble when sinister invocations of Jewish financial domination show signs of gaining common currency. And you know that it is really in trouble when those in positions of leadership start talking in that vein.

Charisse Zeifert

Don't Blame The Jews For SA's Problems

Writing on the political succession debate within the ANC (‘ANC's dirty war’, 15/1/2017), Setumo Stone reports that in certain quarters the candidature of Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa is being opposed on the grounds that he is “in the pockets of the Jews” and “beholden to Jewish business interests”

Charisse Zeifert

Religious tolerance holds the key to fixing SA's ills

Last Monday morning started on a high note.  If you were listening to SAfm’s with Sakina Kamwendo.

The discussion was “Religious Tolerance”, and the five speakers, each representing a different faith community, were in agreement: 

SAJBD Condemns Hate Crimes: "Coffin Assault"

The South African Jewish Board of Deputies is horrified by the shocking racial attack in Mpumalanga referred to as the 'coffin assault'.  We condemn this racist incident in which Victor Mlotshwa was kidnapped, forced inside a coffin and threatened with his life.

The SAJBD Pays Tribute to Gerald Leissner

A South African pioneer, he made huge contributions to business in this country, particularly in the field of BEE.  A philanthropist, he was involved with and commitment to, overcoming poverty and inequality. 

Wendy Kahn

Finding Common Ground

I have been an ardent admirer of Rachelle  Fraenkel since I first got to know this remarkable woman through the eyes of the media. Together with world Jewry, I prayed for the safe return of Eyal, Naphtali, and Gilad, and grieved when we learned the heart-breaking news that they had been murdered. I watched in awe as she and the other five parents who, caught up in the most horrific situation with which a parent can be faced, exhibited nothing but strength, dignity, and yirat shamayim.

Wendy Kahn

Speaking Before the Parliment of the People

In 2012, a bill was introduced in the parliament of South Africa calling for the labelling of certain Israeli goods as ‘Products of the Occupied Palestinian Territories’. Our community was outraged and raised the issue in many different forums: political,legal, and through street protests.

Jeff Katz

The Changing Reality of Terror

At the time of writing this, concerns about the threat of global terrorism are at an all time high in light of the many attacks that have been carried out over the past few months. Hardly a day goes by now without hearing of at least one attack somewhere in the world, whether in war-torn Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan, or in France, Belgium, Germany, and other European countries, in the United States or in Nigeria, Kenya, Somalia or other parts of our own continent.

Wendy Kahn

Etched in our Collective Memory

June the 16th stands out in our psyche and hearts as an historical milestone. It was a day that changed our country and each one of its citizens forever. Just as Americans remember where they were when JFK was assassinated, or when the planes hit the World Trade Centre, so do South Africans remember vividly the day that the horrific brutality of the Apartheid force came down on protesting schoolchildren. The image of the dying Hector Pieterson, one of the most iconic photographs of our generation, was etched in our minds forever.

David Saks

Marking the Birth of SA's Jewish Community

At the time of writing, Shavuot is just a  few days away. On Motzai Shabbos, thousands of community members will be coming together in shuls and batei midrashim throughout the country for the traditional Tikkun Leil learning programme. It all provides a dramatic contrast to the first Jewish communal prayer service in South Africa, held on Erev Yom Kippur, 1841, in the home of Cape Town businessman Benjamin Norden.

Wendy Kahn

Putting A Face On Suffering

Earlier this year, I was privileged to spend Human Rights Day in Sharpeville. On the square where the horrific massacre took place 56 years ago, I stood next to a woman by the name of Maria Morake, who was a witness to the atrocity. Maria recounted to me her personal story of what happened on that day, 21 March 1960.

Wendy Kahn

Remembering Those We Lost In Argentina

On July 18 1994, a suicide bomber drove a car filled with hundreds of kilograms of explosives into the Jewish community’s AMIA building in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Eighty-five people were killed and hundreds were injured. The AMIA bombing (proceeded in 1991 with the attack on the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires where 29 civilians died) became one of the precursors of the wave of global terror that has swept the world and escalated in decades since then. Last month, I participated in a World Jewish Congress Conference in Buenos Aires as a member of the SAJBD delegation. One of the reasons Argentina was selected for this meeting was that the dates would coincide with the anniversary of the Israeli Embassy bombing on the 17 March 1992.

Zev Krengel

Appreciating What We Have

The following is adapted from an address by Zev Krengel, National Vice-President of the SAJBD, at this year’s Miracle Drive launch.

Wendy Kahn

Pulling off the Plaster

The year 1994 was a euphoric time for all South Africans. We celebrated the values of democracy and human rights and we spoke of Madiba magic, the rainbow nation, and of course Ubuntu. Life was good. We had avoided civil war and bloodshed and, in the main, crossed the bridge unscathed into the New South Africa.