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Op-eds

With provocation against Israel so high, SA Jews need to be vigilant

  • AboveBoardShaunZagnoev (3)
The eruption of further deadly violence along the Gaza border earlier this week was a sobering reminder that Israel’s existence is something that many of its neighbours cannot bring themselves to accept, to the point of being prepared to throw away their own, and even their children’s lives in suicidal acts of provocation.
by SHAUN ZAGNOEV | May 17, 2018

It has been a difficult time for the Jewish world, including our own community. The nature of the anti-Israel rhetoric, apart from failing to apportion blame for the tragedy in any reasoned, objective manner, has frequently been characterised by hysterical exaggeration, not least that Israel is bent on committing “genocide” against a helpless, innocent population.

The ANC – or at least, the anti-Israel agitators that appear to have hijacked its Middle Eastern policy – not only repeated this scandalous accusation in its official statement on the situation, but saw fit to taunt the Jewish people by asserting that the same people who never failed to remind the world about what they had suffered in the Holocaust were now guilty of committing the same crimes against others.

Such revolting invective is driven by simple crude hatred; it has nothing to do with any genuine concern with the welfare of the Palestinians or a wish to further prospects for peace between them and their Israeli neighbours.

One need not take seriously the charge that Israel is wantonly killing “unarmed civilian protesters”. It is Hamas, perhaps more than any other Palestinian extremist group, that must bear the responsibility for completely eliding the distinction between combatants and civilians, not just regarding those targeted by its attacks, but in terms of those who perpetrate such atrocities.

No sovereign state can be expected to allow hostile foreigners to invade its territory en masse, and how much more so when every one of them could quite literally be a ticking bomb.

It should also be noted that fatalities make up a very small proportion of the casualties incurred since the protests commenced, showing that Israeli troops are doing whatever they can to minimise deaths.

That being said, the Gaza death toll has nevertheless been tragically high. Inevitably, and as Hamas undoubtedly intended, it has set off fresh waves of anti-Israel outrage around the world.

Locally, the unrest has resulted in the recall of the South African ambassador to Israel. The SA Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) and SA Zionist Federation have described this step as “a gross display of double standards against the Jewish state”, as well as amounting to South Africa’s walking away from playing any role in resolving the conflict.

We further stressed that much as the loss of life is to be regretted, it must equally be recognised that a sovereign state has every right to defend its own borders and that Hamas is guilty of inciting its own population to storm the border fence and attack Israeli civilians.

Periods of increased violence in the Middle East almost invariably result in an upsurge of hostility towards our own community. At such times, we need to be extra vigilant and in the event of becoming aware of any anti-Semitic or suspicious activity, to immediately report it to the SAJBD’s offices or to the CSO.

One hopes that with Israel’s 70th anniversary now behind us and the US embassy move a fait accompli, the latest upsurge of reckless provocation from Gaza will soon spend itself and allow for some much-needed calm to be restored.

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

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