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Op-eds

First official SAJBD-EFF meeting

  • AboveBoardShaunZagnoev
On Monday, the senior leadership of the SA Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) held its first official meeting with the executive committee of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF). Some may question why such a meeting took place, given how sharply the EFF differs from the mainstream Jewish community on many critical issues, not least the Israeli-Palestinian question. This, however, is to misunderstand the role of the SAJBD. As the elected representative spokesbody of SA Jewry, our mandate is to be the interface between our community and the greater society, particularly in the political sphere. We therefore seek to meet with constituencies from right across the ideological spectrum.
by SHAUN ZAGNOEV | Feb 01, 2018

No matter how polarised the parties may be, there is nothing to be lost, and much to be gained, by engaging with one another. Who better than South Africans to know how effective meeting and talking can be in breaking down negative preconceptions and finding common ground?

As far as the EFF’s non-negotiable endorsement of the Palestinian position and its hostile attitude towards Israel are concerned, this must be seen in the context of the EFF representing the position held by a large portion of the voter base. Likewise, the position taken by the ANC is reflective of its endeavouring to remain relevant to the constituency being targeted by the EFF.

Both the EFF and ANC have nevertheless stressed that their position on the Middle East conflict has no bearing on their positive stance towards the SA Jewish community and their commitment to ensuring that our religious and cultural rights are not compromised.

While recognising the role that Jews contributed to the anti-apartheid struggle and continue to play in various areas, there is also an expectation that SA Jewry partners with them in some way to assist in alleviating social and economic challenges in our society. Our meeting with the EFF enabled us to identify crucial points of commonality. At the end of the day, we both want to see a South Africa that works, even if we often differ as to how to accomplish this.

Two areas that were discussed were those of public healthcare and education. We stressed the ability and willingness of the SA Jewish community to make a meaningful contribution in these areas.

Financial assistance for university students

Without financial assistance, it is all but impossible for a high proportion of the population to go on to tertiary studies. The national, Cape Town and Durban branches of the SAJBD are each responsible for administering a range of bursary funds established over the decades to assist needy and/or academically deserving local students.

However, most of the bursaries run by our national office were set up many years ago, and inflation has since greatly reduced their value. We have therefore decided to embark on a modest fund-raising drive to boost the capital base in these funds, thereby increasing annual disbursements through additional interest accrued.

I appeal to readers, and in particular previous recipients of SAJBD bursaries who have gone on to achieve successful professional careers, to assist us in this regard. Whatever you are able to contribute, whether monthly or as a once-off payment, would be greatly appreciated. Our banking details are: Standard Bank, South African Jewish Board of Deputies, 007205 200305190, Reference: Your name *BF (*Bursary Fund). Confirmation of payment should be sent to [email protected]

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

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