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Proud to be South African, ashamed to be a Jew

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I feel proud to be South African, even elated. I had the privilege of attending the recent rally called for by the South African Christian community (supported and co-ordinated by the South African Friends of Israel and the South African Zionist Federation) to protest against the downgrading of the South African Embassy in Israel.
by Monessa Shapiro, Johannesburg | Aug 02, 2018

And what a privilege it was! I was surrounded by warmth and love. People travelled from as far as Limpopo to take part in the rally. There were old ladies – some even on walking sticks – and there were mothers with babies in their arms. Many of those I spoke to had never been to Israel, but they all told me it was their wish and prayer to do so.

For weeks now, Jews in South Africa have been feeling anxious. Not a Shabbos meal goes by without the conversation moving to the subjects of anti-Semitism, the downgrade, and the anti-Israel bias displayed by our government and media. Discussion then centres on our leadership and its supposed inability to deal with the situation. The complaint is, without fail, that nothing is being done.

Yet, despite plea after plea from our leadership to support fellow South Africans in their attempt to stand for Israel, the Johannesburg/Pretoria Jewish community was conspicuous in its absence. Sure, it was a workday, and sure, it was hard for young moms with children. But 2 000 of our fellow citizens managed, and we didn’t. I felt proud to be a South African, but was saddened and somewhat ashamed to be a South African Jew.

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