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Op-eds

SA hosts prestigious WJC Community Directors’ Forum

  • AboveBoardShaunZagnoev
At the time of writing, preparations are being finalised for the World Jewish Congress Community Directors’ Forum, to commence this weekend in Cape Town. This is the first time that this prestigious event will be taking place on the African continent, and we are honoured to have been entrusted with organising and hosting it.
by SHAUN ZAGNOEV | Oct 19, 2017

The visit of so many high-level leaders from around the Jewish world, provides us with an ideal opportunity of building on existing relationships with local political leaders and opinion-makers.

In this regard, we are happy to report that Western Cape Premier Helen Zille will be hosting the official opening dinner at her official residence on Sunday evening, while we expect a range of ambassadors, parliamentarians and other dignitaries to join us for the following evening’s gala dinner.

SAJBD National President Mary Kluk, who represents our community on the World Jewish Congress (WJC) executive committee, will give a message of welcome at the first event while I will be giving the opening remarks at the second.    

So far as the conference itself is concerned, a substantial part of the agenda has been devoted to discussing how BDS, the global campaign aimed at boycotting and isolating Israel, is playing out in South Africa and sharing with our international colleagues how our community has gone about confronting it.

We believe that we have much to contribute to world Jewry’s efforts to counter this pernicious phenomenon, not least because it is in our own country that one finds the genesis of the grotesque “Israel=Apartheid” analogy.

Among those presenting, is a former BDS activist who became aware of how much mainstream South Africans are being duped about the true nature of Israel and its relationship with its neighbours after participating in a fact-finding visit to that country. The WJC’s Counter-Delegitimisation Unit will also give a presentation.

While in Cape Town, delegates will have the opportunity of learning more about the South African Jewish community, past and present. The Shabbat programme includes a panel discussion on the Jewish role in the overthrow of apartheid, chaired by former trade union leader and MP, Johnny Copelyn and with African Jewish Congress President Ann Harris and former anti-apartheid activist and Constitutional Court judge, Albie Sachs as panellists.

American Jewry in particular, places much emphasis on the importance of tikkun olam, the Jewish imperative to help to heal and repair our troubled world through social welfare action, fighting injustice and other such means.

We look forward to showing how SA Jewry is making this a practical reality through a visit to Afrika Tikkun’s social upliftment projects in Mfuleni.

Afrika Tikkun is not, of course, the only Jewish-headed organisation that works to address the huge socio-economic imbalances that exist in our country as a result of apartheid. For close on nine decades, the Union of Jewish Women (UJW) has, without fanfare and generally out of the public eye, been doing sterling work in these areas.

On Sunday evening, I was pleased to present a welcome message on behalf of the Board at the 31st UJW national conference and to pay tribute to this fine organisation, not only for what it has done to assist the needy, but for the credit that this has reflected on our own community.     

•         Listen to Charisse Zeifert on Jewish Board Talk, 101.9 ChaiFM every Friday 12:00 - 13:00

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