During these troubled times for our young democracy, the SA Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) calls on all citizens to unite in confronting corruption and maladministration, protecting the Constitution and fostering a stable economic and political environment. It is undeniable that the principles of accountability and good governance are being seriously undermined and that the interests of isolated factions and individuals appear to be getting precedence over those of the country as a whole. Regardless of race, political affiliation and social background, South Africans must work together in confronting these serious problems.
In January, the independent TV station ANN7 organised a panel debate on security in Sandringham for a programme it was making on the subject. It was reported that one of the panellists, Zahir Omar (of the Muslim Lawyers Association of SA), made explicitly antisemitic comments during the discussion.
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.
All South Africans have an equal right to safety and security, regardless of where they might be living. This means that equal attention needs to be paid to addressing problems of crime and violence that occur outside the main urban areas.
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?
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.”
“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.
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.
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.