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Op-eds

Looking back on an eventful, yet satisfying, 2017

  • AboveBoardShaunZagnoev
This being my final column for 2017, I will take the opportunity of reviewing the year that has passed and some of the highlights of the work of the SAJBD during this period. For our country, it has been another eventful, often turbulent, period.
by SHAUN ZAGNOEV | Dec 07, 2017

However, through it all, our Jewish community has continued to be active and vibrant in all fields of Jewish communal endeavour, and we look forward to building on these achievements in the year to come.

For the SAJBD, it has been a busy time, and indeed continues to be so even as 2017 draws to a close. Currently, our main focus is our campaign against the proposed downgrade of the South African embassy in Israel, which will be discussed and voted on at the upcoming ANC national elective conference.

We believe that we have made a strong, persuasive case against a downgrade, and are hopeful of a positive outcome. It should also be borne in mind that even if the ANC adopts the proposal, it will not automatically mean that it will become government policy. We are well prepared to take our campaign to the next level, should it become necessary.

The Board can draw much satisfaction for what has been achieved this year, whether in terms of relationship-building in the wider society, combating anti-Semitism, strengthening our ties with international Jewry or contributing to the preservation and continuation of the South African Jewish heritage.

Among the highlights was the favourable court judgment in the long-running Bongani Masuku case. This established an important precedent, whose implications will be felt beyond the confines of our own country, that threatening Jews for their support of Israel, falls into the category of prohibited hate speech.

There was an enthusiastic reception for the SAJBD’s 49th biennial national conference, which combined addressing the nitty-gritty issues in which the Board is involved with honouring members of our community adjudged to have made a particular outstanding contribution in the fields of both general human rights activism and in Jewish communal affairs.

An equally striking success was the World Jewish Congress Community Directors Forum, held in Cape Town. Delegates from over 50 countries attended this prestigious event, which gave us a unique opportunity of showcasing our community and everything it is accomplishing.

As reported on in more detail in my previous column, the Board’s Parliamentary liaison initiative has gone from strength to strength, and has indeed been a game-changer in terms of our ability to represent our community in the sphere of public policy-making.

Our Cape Council has again been particularly involved in outreach and interfaith activities, including co-ordinating the Jewish community’s relief efforts in the wake of the Knysna fire disaster. Among the memorable public events organised by the Board in Johannesburg, was the opening of the acclaimed “Goldene Medina” exhibition on 175 years of Jewish life in South Africa, where we were honoured by the presence of Johannesburg Mayor Herman Mashaba.

In conclusion, I sincerely thank my colleagues and friends for their loyal support over the past 11 months and wishing everyone in our community a restful and safe end-of-year break.

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

 

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