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All you need to know about Shabbos Project

Find links to everything there is to know about this unique and incredible initiative of worldwide Jewry which saw over 5 000 women make challah under the stars during a cloudburst in Johannesburg last night, say the organisers. Read about the ton of sugar and other ingredients they used. Among the global participants were 5 000 in Buenos Aires; 4 900 in Miami, ,500 in Melbourne; 2 000 in Sydney; 1 000 in Cape Town; and 500 in Manhattan.

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ANT KATZ

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Kneading it together, thousands participate in Challah Bake.

Tens of thousands of women were up to their elbows in flour as they “kneaded it together” at global Challah-baking events last night. These events kicked-off The Shabbos Project – a worldwide Jewish unity initiative that was born in South Africa last year, initiated by Chief Rabbi Warren Goldstein. 

The project will see at least one million Jews observing the Sabbath together in full, from sunset tonight, until nightfall tomorrow. Many will be doing so for the first time.

Snapshot of numbers of women who attended some of the events:

  • Johannesburg: 5 000 
  • Buenos Aires: 5 000
  • Miami: 4 900 
  • Melbourne: 2 500 
  • Sydney: 2 000 
  • Cape Town: 1 000
  • Manhattan: 500

In Israel, no less than 300 Shabbos Project events are taking place this week.

5 000 Women brave Johannesburg shower

Over 5 000 women make challah under the stars in Johannesburg as part of global Shabbos Project initiative.

What goes into preparing a challah bake for thousands of women?

A year of anticipation, several months of preparing and planning and two full days of setting up, paved the way for the Johannesburg Great Challah Bake. Set in the open field of the majestic War Memorial in Saxonwold, under decorative lanterns and bunting, 5 000 women attended the challah bake. Despite an unforeseen thundershower, women donned their raincoats and gathered their family and friends for a night of blessings and baking. 

As the crowds gathered and waited for the rain to subside The Moshav Band performed an intimate set for the crowd of enthusiastic women. Children sat on the floor while women clapped and swayed to the spirit-lifting tunes.

Despite the inclement weather, over 3 000 attended. Each woman received a pre-packed bowl filled with all the necessary ingredients and equipment to prepare their challah dough: 1 250 litres of water, 1 ton of sugar, 70 kg of yeast, 10 tons of flour, 1 200 litres of oil, 10 000 eggs and 200 kg of salt were delivered to the venue, and set out neatly for each woman, along with plastic gloves, hand wipes and aprons.

Brollies were all up

Thousands of umbrellas decorated the venue, as women gathered to “knead it together”, pray together and sing together. Chief Rabbi Goldstein welcomed the crowd, followed by a step-by-step challah-making demonstration by Robyn Smookler. The crowd then enjoyed a melodic performance by Breindy Klawansky, which was followed by a performance by international superstar, singer-songwriter Alex Clare, who took to the stage and sang his heart out while participants danced in the rain.

As the night drew to an end and the clouds blew over, groups of women began to sing and dance under the stars. The electric atmosphere was palpable, as these women came together to unite and inspire one another.

1 200 women attended a similar Challah Bake event at the Company’s Garden in Cape Town on Wednesday night, and similar events took place across the globe – from Mexico to Melbourne; Miami to Raanana. The events kicked-off the first-ever global  Shabbos Project, in which over a million Jews from all walks of life are expected to “keep one full Sabbath together”.

Read all about Shabbos Project on SAJR


Shabbos Project 2014 logo

Shabbos Project 2014 Yeshiva

The massive challah bake at the Johannesburg War Memorial

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Samuel Shalom

    Oct 27, 2014 at 5:06 am

    The Road Ahead — Goals and Questions!

    The Shabbos Project (TSP) of 2014 has now come and gone. Tens of thousands of people partook in this milestone global event. With heartfelt hopes and prayers that TSP will inspire people of all walks to become more Shabbos/Shabbat observant. Congratulations to Rabbbi Warren Goldstein (RWG) and his backers on achieving such an incredible success. TSP for 2015 is now in the works and it will no doubt build on this year’s amazing success.

    Multitudes of organizations large and small and individuals famous or not joined in to make the 2014 international TSP a popular undertaking. But one organization in the United States has been noticeably NOT involved with TSP, and it’s in fact an organization with the same aims, methods and mission of TSP. No, it is not Chabad-Lubavitch, even though Chabad has not thrown its full weight and lot in with TSP, they are far too independent and powerful for that, yet one can find that many individual Chabad centers and individual Chabad rabbis have joined in with TSP on a selective basis as part of localized events. So which is that obvious \”elephant in the room\” organizations that is glaringly missing from TSP? In North America it has been around for at least 25 years and has played a central role in trying to get people from all walks to learn about and enjoy Shabbat and much more.

    For anyone involved in the Jewish Outreach world over the past 25 years in North America and all over the world the question is surely being asked why NJOP: The National Jewish Outreach Program founded and still headed by the charismatic famous Kiruv personality Rabbi Ephraim Buchwald (REB) associated with Manhattan’s famous Lincoln Square Synagogue has not joined nor promoted TSP? Why? What’s going on? What happened? This is significant!

    NJOP has innovated a number of well-known programs and one of its most touted is its Shabbat Across America (SAA) also known as Shabbat Across Canada that NJOP connects with Shabbat Beginners Service; Guides to Shabbat At Home; Learn About Shabbat Services; and in fact in 2015 there will be not one but TWO competing Shabbat/Shabbos projects, one run by TSP out of South Africa in late 2015 and one by NJOP out of Manhattan in late 2015.

    This is what NJOP has to say about its 2015 program: \”Shabbat Across America and Canada: On Friday night, March 13, 2015 hundreds of synagogues across the continent will take part in an historic national Jewish event to celebrate what unifies all Jews — Shabbat! Everyone is invited… singles, couples, families — all ages. ‘Turn an ordinary Friday night into something extraordinary!’ That’s the magic of Shabbat Across America and Shabbat Across Canada. By participating in this continent wide event, you will not only have the opportunity to experience Shabbat, but you will be sharing your experience with tens of thousands of Jews across North America. No matter what your affiliation or which Shabbat Across America or Shabbat Across Canada location you choose to attend, NJOP’s annual Shabbat program will give you a ‘taste’ of Shabbat. Explanatory services, traditional rituals, delicious meals and lively discussions are all important components of the Shabbat experience. as well as the opportunity to spend the evening with like-minded people, friends and family. Shabbat Across America or Shabbat Across Canada is for every Jew, and those who are unable to go to a registered location can participate in their own homes or in gatherings with friends/family. For help in creating a Shabbat evening, try one or all of the following resources provided by the NJOP. Unable to join one of our 450+ locations for Shabbat Across America? Recreate the spirit of Shabbat Across America and Canada at Home. Click here for more details. If you are a rabbi or synagogue lay leader and want to learn how to sign up your congregation for Shabbat Across America, click here. Sponsored by the Melohn Family in honor of Mrs. Martha Melohn 1-888-SHABBAT More Shabbat Information About Shabbat Spirituality at your Fingertips Guides.\”

    Close your eyes and listen to the PR and message you would think that you”re listening to a message from RWG and TSP — BUT  YOU  ARE  NOT! The differences are staring at you, but they are subtle, and they may explain some of the distance that looks like a \”COLD WAR\” between two massive Jewish outreach programs SAA versus TSP to promote Shabbat/Shabbos observance — SEEMINGLY  SIMILAR  BUT  SOMEHOW  STANDING  APART  FROM  EACH  OTHER!

    The first difference is in the name they call themselves, while REB’s & NJOP’s Shabbat Across America (SAA) is NEVER  \”SHABBOS Across America\” on the other hand RWG’s is mainly \”The SHABBOS Project\” and when needed it can also be called \”The SHABBAT Project\” since \”Shabbos\” is associated with the older-style more traditional way of observance, meaning it is telling you that it’s more \”authentically\” Orthodox and even MORE  HAREDI-friendly, and if need be TSP can also be the modern  Hebrew version of \”Shabbat\” as it’s known to Israelis and many secular Jews and user friendly to anyone.

    On the other hand, there is a good reason why REB’s & the NJOP’s  SAA program NEVER calls itself \”Shabbos\” because of something so very radical it is downright religiously dangerous for serious Orthodox Jews! Namely, from its outset REB and NJOP and their sponsors were focused on creating a program that works in conjunction with the Reform and Conservative movements and any and all NON-Orthodox Jewish groups to promote and host its SAA program that was denounced years ago by the oldest rabbinical organization in America, The Agudas Harrabanim (Union of Orthodox Rabbis) of America (that had at one time been headed by the famous Rav Moshe Feinstein. Note, this organization is NOT the \”OU (Orthodox Union)\” Kashrut and youth organization.)

    Spearheaded by an American rabbi well-known in South Africa who had helped pioneer many Orthodox projects during the time he would frequently spend in South Africa, Rabbi David Hollander (1913–2009), was the prime mover of battle against the NJOP push to have combined programming for its SAA program and was the prime author of the following:

    In the Friday, March 7, 2003 edition of the well known The Jewish Press, page 19:

    \”THE UNION OF ORTHODOX RABBIS OF THE UNITED STATES AND CANADA

    KIRUV  &  HALACHA

    In answer to many inquiries whether the Agudas Horabbonim approves of the ‘Shabbat Across America/Canada’ call to Jews to attend synagogues on Friday night, we hereby issue the following statement: As is well known, the Agudas Horabbonim issued a p’sak halacha years ago, under the authority of its President — the world-renowned Posek Hador, Hagaon Reb Moshe Feinstein, zt’l — and honorary President — Hagaon Harav Joseph Ber Soloveitchik, zt’l — that one is not allowed to pray in a Reform or Conservative Temple, and if an Orthodox minyan cannot be organized, one should pray alone, even on Rosh Hashonah, and not hear Shofar, rather than attend a Reform or Conservative Temple.

    Therefore, in keeping with the above P’sak, the Agudas Harabonnim cannot approve of a call to attend a Reform or Conservative Temple on a Friday night, or any time. As important as Kiruv — bringing Jews closer to the synagogue — is, it must be carried out in accordance with the Halacha. Since the ‘Shabbat Across America/Canada’ does not state that the Synagogue must be Orthodox, clearly implying that it can also be a Reform or Conservative Temple, the Agudas Harabbonim strongly disapproves, and warns all Jews not to take part in the ‘Shabbat Across America/Canada’ program.\”

    This is a major reason why that in spite of sharing identical strategic objectives, of \”selling\” Shabbat/Shabbos to non-Orthodox Jews, YET they differ on the means. While the SAA program has eagerly aligned itself with Reform and Conservative and non-Orthodox bodies as allies to promote itself, on the other hand RWG’s and TSP have avoided that pitfall for now. One cannot but conclude that this is the consequence of the SAA effectively turning its back on what should be its natural allies among the Orthodox Kiruv-outreach organizations who have now countered under the leadership of RWG and TSP that they too can succeed just as grandly as REB and the SAA program, even if it a took a \”miracle\” to take place in far-off South Africa 25 years later to figure out a successful rejoinder over time.

    Another key difference is that while REB and SAA are rooted in the world of American Modern Orthodoxy with REB being a rabbinic graduate of the Modern Orthodox Yeshiva University, on the other hand RWG and TSP are rooted in a more \”right-wing\” sector of the Yeshiva world of which Aish HaTorah is part and Aish HaTorah has been the biggest international partner, promoter and strategic ally of RWG to date. RWG is a product of the Yeshiva Gedola of South Africa that was headed by his mentor Rav Azriel Goldfein who was a product of the American Haredi Telshe Yeshiva of Cleveland, Ohio. Thus SAA \”versus\” TSP is reflected in the different rabbinic worlds and traditions that REB \”versus\” RWG grow out from.

    At this point, until such time that RWG and TSP make explicit what they intend to do, one can assume they do not intend to ally with REB and SAA. One must pray that RWG and TSP will NEVER ally themselves with ANY Non-Orthodox movements and synagogues or clergy in any way shape size or form otherwise what they are doing would become a mitzva haba’ah be’aveira (a mitzva that is achieved through sinning) or worse!!!

    From REB’s and SAA’s silence and seeming indifference to what is now happening around them as TSP floods the world with their very issue is alarming them to the point where they must wonder if their day has come and gone and now it will be TSP that will be the wave of the future.

    For now BOTH the SAA and TSP people are keeping quiet even though quite a few organizations are supposedly working with both, and no doubt many must be wondering how this will play itself out.

    That is why Chief Rabbi Warren Goldstein would be well-advised to actively create an OFFICIAL international board of respected leading Orthodox rabbis that will help TSP and its participant bodies avoid the pitfalls of what happened to REB and the SAA program tainting it in the eyes of Kiruv rabbis and organizations rooted in the Yeshiva, Haredi and Hasidic world.

  2. Mordechai

    Oct 28, 2014 at 2:32 am

    ‘great project. Now for S Africa’s Jewry to move onto to the next project – Remove the Anti-Israel Desmond Tutu from his role as Patron of the S African Holocaust Foundation. To retain or to be oblivious of that man Tutu as Patron with the majority if not all Trustees being Jewish is an insult to the memory of six million Jews who were slaughtered and it is an insult to every citizen of the Jewish state of Israel. I call on the South African Jewish community to expend the same effort as they expended on the Shabbos Project to get sever all ties Tutu has th the Holocaust Foundation’

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Israel

SA Jewish leadership confront Israeli PM over travellers’ ordeal

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Orthodox spiritual leaders in South Africa have expressed their shock and dismay over the treatment of South African travellers turned away from Ben Gurion Airport last Friday night.

Chief Rabbi Dr Warren Goldstein, South African Rabbinical Association Chairperson Rabbi Yossi Chaikin, and the dayanim of the Beth Din of South Africa wrote to Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett on 30 November expressing their unhappiness.

The group of five travellers from South Africa included two who were going to Israel to comfort the Kay family after the murder of their son and brother, Eli Kay, in a terrorist attack on 21 November.

They were in the air when Israeli authorities decided to ban South African travellers in light of a new COVID-19 variant discovered by South African scientists. On landing in Israel, they were forced onto a flight back to South Africa via Dubai on Shabbat.

“We were shocked and dismayed to hear that a group of Jewish travellers from South Africa, who arrived at Ben Gurion Airport this past Friday, were denied entry into Israel and forcibly returned to their country of origin, and as a result were compelled to desecrate Shabbat,” wrote our religious leaders.

“That this took place in the Jewish state is simply unconscionable,” they wrote. “To further compound the trauma, two of the passengers were making their way to Israel to spend Shabbat with the Kay family, who are mourning the loss of their beloved Eli in last week’s terror attack in Jerusalem. From the reports we received, no attempt was made to accommodate the passengers by allowing them to remain in quarantine over Shabbat.

“To force fellow Jews to desecrate Shabbat is a violation of the Jewish identity and Jewish values of the state,” they wrote. “The manner in which the religious rights of these individuals have been infringed isn’t something one would expect of any country, and certainly not the Jewish state. On behalf of South Africa’s rabbis and the communities we represent, we wish to record our strongest objection to the forced desecration of Shabbat.”

One of these travellers, Ilana Smith, says the incident led to more stress and trauma for the Kay family, who tried to help the travellers in spite of being in mourning. “I was going to Israel only to be there for the Kay family. I was staying nearby, and was going nowhere else. And now the Kay family had this extra stress on their hands – the last thing they needed! Kasriel Kay was phoning the rabbi in Dubai, trying to help us. My family back home went into Shabbos not knowing if I would be stuck in Dubai. There are post-traumatic repercussions from this ordeal.”

Melissa Genende was travelling to Israel from South Africa to see her grandchildren on the same flight as Smith. “We had no knowledge of the flight ban, and weren’t stopped until we arrived in Israel on Friday afternoon. Our passports were taken from us. We were marched underground and came up at the departure gate for the flight going back to Dubai.

“We were threatened that if we didn’t board the plane, the police would be called,” she said. “This in fact did happen while we explained that we didn’t want to fly on Shabbat. At this point, we had no choice but to get on the plane. I’m not fully shomer Shabbos, but I would never travel on a plane on Shabbat. I have travelled many times in my life, and always make a plan that I don’t travel on Shabbat, often with a lot of extra cost.”

She’s angry that all the other people on the plane entered Israel with no problem. “We came from South Africa on the same plane, so why were we not giving any other option? We could have gone into bidud [quarantine] for a few days. We had all been tested, and I had already prepaid for PCR tests at the airport. I understand the panic. What I don’t understand is how they make a decision for five people and let everyone else in the country.”

The group had no opportunity to get food or water while waiting in the airport. “Kosher food was also unavailable to us for the entire two flights. When we landed in Dubai, it was already Shabbos. We had nowhere to wait all night until our flight at 05:00. We managed to find a lounge that would allow us to pay $32 [R513] for four hours. There was no kosher food there. We arrived back in South Africa at 12:00 on Saturday. Our luggage didn’t arrive, and we still have no idea where it is or when will get it back.”

Genende has since been ill from dehydration and travel sickness. “I’m taking this as far as can. I’m hoping that the Israeli government will do something about the staff at the airport. At the very least, I want a new ticket to Israel. I will fight until I get answers and compensation.” Emirates, she says, won’t reimburse her as she has “used” the return flight.

Even though she was able to get home, she says she would have preferred to be stuck in Israel than to have experienced this. She says she and the other South Africans have since been asked to go to the Israeli Embassy in Pretoria to meet the ambassador. She’s waiting “with bated breath” to hear what’s said. She’s had no other communication from anyone in Israel.

Former MK and olim advocate, Dov Lipman, has worked tirelessly with his organisation, Yad L’Olim, to assist olim and their families to deal with travel restrictions throughout the pandemic. In the past few days, he has barely slept as Israel went from one extreme to the other in a matter of hours.

“It’s been a really difficult time for South African Jewry,” he says. “I hear their pain, I hear their cries. The incident last Friday was nothing short of tragic, and I use that word deliberately. It’s a tragedy when someone arrives in Israel legally and is turned away.”

He says the incident has been covered extensively by the Israeli media, “with strong criticism of the government for the way it was handled from all segments of Israel’s population. At the very least, this kind of thing won’t happen again because of the degree of criticism.”

He was involved in trying to assist the South Africans. “I had a hard time enjoying my Shabbat knowing that people were in transit to who knows where. It was very painful. I’m now even more motivated to help olim and their families around the world. I believe all of our efforts will lead to a better situation.”

In response to queries from the SA Jewish Report, the Israeli Embassy in Pretoria released an official statement. “We deeply regret the unfortunate incident that occurred at Ben Gurion Airport on 26 November when a group of South African citizens were deported and had to violate their religious beliefs. The incident took place immediately after the imposition of new strict COVID-19 regulations. The incident is being investigated, and necessary conclusions will be drawn. Needless to say, if the embassy had been informed of these events in time of the occurrence, this unfortunate chain of events could have been prevented.”

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Israel

Citizens take government to court over Miss SA bullying

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Citizens for Integrity (CFI) has accused the government and the minister of sports, arts, and culture of acting unconstitutionally and irrationally in its “bullying” of Miss SA.

The non-governmental organisation has filed papers in the North Gauteng High Court taking the government and Minister Nathi Mthethwa to task for withdrawing its support for the local beauty queen in November, and for calling for her to withdraw from the 70th Miss Universe pageant to be held in Israel in less than two weeks.

In a press statement issued this week, CFI said that as an organisation “aimed at protecting the rights of citizens and the public against abuse, unconstitutional action, and irrational government decisions which affect citizens’ rights”, it took issue with the government and the minister.

It has demanded an apology and an immediate retraction of the statement withdrawing its support for the Miss SA organisation and Miss SA, Lalela Mswane.

Mswane, a University of Pretoria LLB graduate who was born in KwaSokhulu in Richards Bay, KwaZulu-Natal, has consistently stood her ground through a steady stream of harassment and vilification by Israel-haters and politicians hell bent on scuppering her once-in-a-life time opportunity to participate on the international stage.

In spite of this, she left for Israel at the weekend in preparation for the pageant, with the full backing and support of the Miss SA organisation and countless fans who have steadfastly continued to support her in her decision to participate.

Following weeks of intimidation by anti-Israel lobbyists, Mswane, dressed in a bright yellow, summery jumpsuit left the country telling her fans, “We will Rise”, and expressing how grateful she was for the opportunity to represent her country.

The Miss SA organisation posted, “We stand united with you @lalela_mswane. You have already made us so proud, and we know you will continue to do so. We love and adore you.”

Willie Hofmeyr, the retired head of the asset forfeiture unit at the National Prosecuting Authority, and also one of the founders and directors of CFI, said this week that it was an “important issue to address”.

“We need to ensure that all citizens in the country are treated equally well and fairly. It appears as if Miss SA has not been treated fairly,” he said.

Sibongile Cele, the deputy chairperson of the African National Congress (ANC) Women’s League Johannesburg, also insisted that Miss SA’s rights had been infringed upon. “As a committed Christian, I felt it was important to look at her rights as a woman and her rights as Miss SA,” said Cele, who is also a spokesperson for the CFI.

“Her rights shouldn’t be infringed because of politics. The Miss Universe pageant shouldn’t be politicised, and as a citizen of this country, she has the right to compete in the pageant. She shouldn’t be held back, she won the title of Miss SA, and she is our ambassador,” Cele said. She isn’t afraid of a backlash from the ANC saying, “ I am a Christian before I am a member of the ANC, we report to G-d first.”

The CFI said in papers before the court that the government’s decision also “didn’t constitute a legitimate purpose of government” as it didn’t “fall within the legitimate powers and objectives conferred upon the government by the Constitution”.

“The government has not only failed, but has deliberately transgressed its obligation to respect and protect the human rights guaranteed to all in the Bill of Rights,” it said.

Although Mswane is already in Israel, the CFI launched an urgent application in the Gauteng North High Court to be heard on Tuesday, 7 December to have the government’s statement declared unconstitutional, said Cele.

She said the organisation’s attorneys had written to President Cyril Ramaphosa demanding an apology to South Africans “for exceeding the bounds of the government’s authority, and interfering in the rights of citizens”.

“The South African government’s decision to support a boycott of a country with which it has diplomatic relations and withdraw its support for a citizen – who will participate in a non-political cultural event in that country – is also irrational, especially in light of the fact that countries that don’t have diplomatic relations with Israel are allowing their citizens to participate and are furnishing them with due support,” said the CFI.

“That agents of the South African government approached Miss South Africa and attempted to coerce her to withdraw from her legitimate participation in the Miss Universe pageant is unconscionable and disgraceful by all normal standards of governance,” it said.

The decision constituted “a standard of bullying by government” and also induced “a sense of unease” that the government may arbitrarily and unconstitutionally pick on any citizen “regarded with disfavour”.

Meanwhile a smiling and ecstatic Mswane has posted pictures of herself on Instagram in Israel dressed in locally designed outfits.

After a long silence, the 24-year-old took to social media before she left, saying attending Miss Universe was “not only an honour but also a huge responsibility”.

“I am determined to serve our country proudly in the best way I can. I stand today as an empowered woman because of so many before me who fought for our voices to be heard. I feel my duty is to do the same for the women of the past, the women of today, and the women to come.

“There is no greater time to shed light on issues affecting women, to choose courage over comfort, and to be steadfast in my beliefs regarding the advancement of women and our rights.”

Mswane said she viewed her participation in the pageant as a “unique opportunity” hopefully to contribute to the process of dialogue and peace.

“I am deeply thankful to all the amazing people who have supported and uplifted me, and brought me joy and comfort during the lead-up to this moment. I wish to compete with the support of South Africans and do my country proud,” she said.

In spite of the anti-Israel lobby’s attempts to harass contestants into pulling out of the pageant, not one country is boycotting. Several have pulled out due to COVID-19, but none have withdrawn for political reasons. The Israel-haters spread fake news that countries such as Greece and Barbados had withdrawn because they were boycotting Israel, however this was proven false.

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The terrorist attack that struck very close to home

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It’s noteworthy that two days after British Interior Minister Priti Patel announced that she was banning the Palestinian militant group, Hamas, Eliyahu David Kay was shot dead by one of its activists.

The United States and European Union had already listed Hamas as a foreign terrorist movement whereas South Africa, Russia, China, Iran, and others don’t regard it as one.

Official Hamas delegations have visited these countries especially in the years following 2007 when its leaders took control of the Gaza Strip and removed rival Palestinian Fatah officials from office. Tensions between the two groups are rife.

Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Fatah-controlled areas of the Palestinian territories, fears a similar takeover in the West Bank. Years ago, it was difficult to get Hamas supporters in cities like Ramallah, Jenin, Hebron, and surrounding villages to talk freely on television without their faces being blurred and location hidden. I remember being sworn to secrecy for the select few who agreed to meet with foreign journalists.

There’s no such problem today. The movement’s green flags mark the entrance to many buildings across the West Bank and graffiti to match emblazons walls with a single word: Hamas. Abbas has indefinitely postponed planned parliamentary elections for fear its outcome could result in gains for his rival.

The latest surge in Hamas’ popularity is a direct result of the May war in which Gaza militants fired about 4 000 rockets into Israel, terrorising residents in Tel Aviv and other cities. That performance earned Hamas newfound admiration among Palestinians not only in Gaza, but also crucially in the West Bank.

At the same time, Abbas was widely criticised – even among fellow Fatah members – for his limp response to Israeli attacks. Long before the most recent round of fighting, Abbas, the 85-year-old heir to Arafat, was flailing. He’s intensely disliked, and it’s not difficult to get Palestinians, especially youngsters, to openly admit it.

Many describe his government as an autocracy in which there are few checks on Abbas’s internal power. He’s criticised for being corrupt, ineffective, inept and tellingly, blamed for remaining beholden to Israel for his ultimate authority.

Hamas has no such problems. Its charter defines historic Palestine – including present-day Israel – as Islamic land, and rules out any permanent peace with the Jewish state. While Abbas is bound by international agreements, Hamas isn’t.

Kay’s murder has heightened Israeli security forces’ attention once again on Hamas and the role it could play in stirring unrest in the West Bank. The group praised Sunday’s attack as a “heroic operation” carried out by a high-ranking member of its organisation.

The group is likely to continue to encourage terrorism in Jerusalem and the West Bank in the hope that it will destabilise the rule of Abbas’ Palestinian Authority (PA) and its ties with Israel.

What’s important to note is that Kay’s attacker, a 42-year-old high school teacher, Fadi Abu Shkhaidem, hailed from the East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Shuafat. Hours after he was shot dead by security forces, clashes broke out at the entrance to the neighbourhood between police and rioters, some of whom threw rocks at the forces. Israeli authorities said the attack appeared to have been planned because Abu Shkhaidem’s wife had left the country days earlier. They’ve arrested several members of his family.

The concern here is that this isn’t the West Bank or Gaza. This is inside Israel. The neighbourhood lies within the boundaries of the Jerusalem municipality, where support for Hamas has been on the increase.

It’s perceived as having initiated the most recent Israel-Gaza war to stop evictions in the East Jerusalem Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood. It’s also believed to be behind forcing Israel to rescind its strict security measures in Jerusalem’s Old City and the al-Aqsa mosque compound. Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh was in direct contact with the Sheikh Jarrah families threatened with eviction.

Like many Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, the predominantly Muslim residents of East Jerusalem are part of a conservative and religious society that supports any group that’s associated with Islam.

The PA, by contrast, is loathed by many Palestinians because it’s regarded as a corrupt secular regime that operates in violation of Islamic teachings.

In the wake of Kay’s murder, Israeli police have beefed up their forces in the Old City and the army is refining the preparedness of its units in the West Bank. Israel’s defence establishment is worried about another showdown between Israel and Gaza, and is closely watching to see if Kay’s murder will have an impact on the situation inside Gaza.

Another concern is copycat attacks. Particularly in light of the fact that Sunday’s attack was in the vicinity of the Temple Mount, it engenders religious sensitivities and the possibility that other Palestinians might seek to follow in the path of the dead terrorists.

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid on Monday demanded that Istanbul shut down Hamas offices operating in Turkey after Israel announced the arrests of a sophisticated 50-member West Bank Hamas cell being directed from Istanbul.

According to the Israel Security Agency, Shin Bet, the Hamas cell was led from Turkey by Saleh al-Arouri, the deputy head of the group’s politburo, and Zacharia Najib, a member of the organisation who was released from Israeli prison in the 2011 Gilad Shalit exchange. They are believed to continue to operate there on behalf of Hamas. Both al-Arouri and Najib live in Turkey, which has long had a close relationship with Hamas, which is politically linked to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

During the Shin Bet operation, security forces captured weapons and materials for preparing four suicide-bomb belts. A senior Shin Bet source said the disruption of a “broad, significant, dangerous terror cell” prevented a series of severe attacks. Its objective was to “undermine regional stability while creating a heavy price tag for local [Palestinian] residents”.

Kay’s murder naturally made headlines in Israel. The government, army, and police are doing their best to try to prevent future incidents, but the sad Israeli reality is that it’s only a matter of time before another family and community is ripped apart. What South African Jewry felt this week is unfortunately what Israelis feel on an ongoing basis.

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