Board denounces Bapela’s ‘undemocratic proposals’
The Board has conducted an active campaign in the media to denounce these undemocratic and grossly discriminatory proposals. In numerous interviews, as well as in an on-air debate with Mr Bapela, our President Zev Krengel pulled no punches, saying that they overtly targeted the Jewish community over and above all other South African citizens and invoked against its members the classic anti-Semitic “dual loyalty” canard.
In our press statement, we amplified on this, saying that the proposal to change existing citizenship legislation purely to prevent South African Jews from having a relationship with Israel, was an attack on a core value of South Africa’s democracy.
Also stressed was the sobering historical lesson that while discriminatory acts might begin with the Jews, they seldom ended with them. In a country which on a daily basis had to battle against racism and xenophobia, Bapela was further inflaming divisions within our society.
As the statement put it: “While mentioning Jews today‚ it will be other minorities tomorrow.”
Significantly, the proposed action against holding dual citizenship generated across the board anxiety. A number of commentators pointed out that in terms of the Constitution, no citizen could be deprived of citizenship, and that therefore any mechanism to take away the citizenship of someone would be unconstitutional.
n fact, the Bapela proposals constitute just the latest instance of radical anti-Israel sentiment resulting in threats to our democratic culture.
The message we wished to put out was that we were proud South Africans who had as much right as anyone to take a position on Israel or anything else and that we would not be intimidated by threats or defamatory suggestions that our loyalty to the country was suspect.
In addition to our public response, we also took care to brief and reassure our own community. Our communique in this regard stressed that Bapela’s views represented those of a narrow faction within the ANC and not the policy of the party itself. To clarify what the true position was, we were following up with the ANC at the highest levels and would update the community once we had more clarity on this and related questions.
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We are now on the threshold of Rosh Hashanah and the extended Jewish festival season. At this time of reflection and new beginnings, I wish everyone a sweet, peaceful, healthy and successful new year.
Whatever challenges 5776 might bring, I have little doubt that we will meet and overcome them as in years gone by, and in that as always, the SAJBD will be continue to do everything necessary to ensure that the civil liberties of our community are upheld.
- Listen to Charisse Zeifert on Jewish Board Talk, 101.9 ChaiFM every Friday 12:00 – 13:00