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A sad day for parliament

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Anti-Israel factions have long been pushing for South Africa to downgrade its embassy in Israel. A resolution to this effect was taken at the 2017 ANC Elective Conference, but until now, it hasn’t been official government policy. Regrettably, on 7 March, parliament voted in favour of a resolution calling for an embassy downgrade. Before it becomes official policy, however, it must still be ratified by cabinet and signed off by President Cyril Ramaphosa.

Both before and after the vote, the South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) issued statements. Among the points made were that though framed as a human rights motivated gesture, the downgrade was in reality driven by an obsessive enmity towards the world’s sole Jewish nation state and a desire to undermine it even when this went against South Africa’s own best interests. We stated that it was ironic that this unjust and discriminatory resolution was adopted on Purim, which commemorates how the forebears of the Jewish people were threatened with genocide; that parliament evidently preferred to “engage in pointless gesture politics at the behest of those driven by an obsessive hatred of the Israeli state” to addressing the country’s own vital interests; and how unbefitting the unreflecting virulence of the anti-Israel rhetoric, with all its falsifications, misrepresentations, omissions, and exaggerations, was in a forum founded on the fundamental values of respectful, constructive, and honest discussion. It’s sad indeed that our parliament has been allowed to become a platform for demonising and defaming the Jewish state.

Irwin Cotler on Israel’s judicial reform

The proposed overhaul of the judiciary is one of the most bitterly divisive questions to emerge in Israeli society for many years. As Jewish leaders, it would be remiss if we didn’t fully understand and discuss the ramifications of change in a country to which we are so strongly connected. We were therefore grateful to have Professor Irwin Cotler address our national leadership at our National Executive Committee meeting on Sunday. There are few global Jewish leaders as well positioned to clarify what the issues are than Cotler. A former Canadian Minister of Justice and an internationally renowned human rights activist and legal academic, he has also been at the forefront of combating antisemitism on the global stage. Over the past four decades, he has also been a warm friend and unstinting source of support to our own community. We thank him for taking the time to share his wisdom, expertise, and experience on this sensitive and complex subject.

Bakery with heart

On 1 March, SAJBD representatives attended the official launch of a new bakery named Heart 4 Africa on the grounds of Sacred Heart College in Observatory. The SAJBD partnered with The Angel Network, Rights 2 Live Africa, and Sacred Heart College in establishing the facility, which specifically employs migrants who otherwise would have no work or opportunity to earn an income. Our involvement in initiatives to assist to the migrant community dates back to the early days of the COVID-19 lockdown, when those not qualifying for government relief on account of not being South African citizens were in an especially difficult situation. In a small but practical way, Heart 4 Africa will help empower members of this vulnerable and frequently overlooked constituency.

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

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Choni Davidowitz

    Mar 9, 2023 at 4:10 pm

    Sad day for Parliament? A sadder day for S.african Jewry. Maybe a message to come HOME.

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