Board supports solidarity slogan: #WeRemember
We are honoured that one of the Board’s most esteemed leaders, Marlene Bethlehem, has been invited to deliver the keynote address at this Friday’s International Holocaust Remembrance Day gathering in Hanover, Germany. I have no doubt that she will do our community proud.
Marlene is a past national chairman and president of the SAJBD and continues to serve on our management committee. In 2016, she was elected as president of the Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture, which was established in the 1960s to rebuild Jewish culture and community life that was destroyed during the Holocaust.
For this year’s International Holocaust Remembrance Day, the World Jewish Congress has launched an innovative global solidarity campaign entitled #WeRemember, in which people around the world are invited to post their picture on Facebook, Twitter, and/or Instagram while holding a piece of paper with the words “We Remember” written on it (along with the hashtag #WeRemember).
The campaign aims at passing on the memory of the Shoah, and the accompanying duty of keeping that memory alive, to the next generation. To date, more than 200 000 people have contributed, either individually or in group photos, with an estimated reach of more than one hundred million people through social media and newspaper coverage. I encourage all members of our community to participate in this important awareness-raising project.
SAJBD finalises Hate Crimes Bill submission
This week, following extensive consultations and discussion, including participating in various public workshops, the SAJBD put in its submission on the Prevention and Combating of Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill. As with previous submissions over the past year, this one combined observations and recommendations relating to how to combat hate crimes in general, as well as focusing on hate crimes against the Jewish community in particular.
The issues are far from simple. The final text of the bill has to be carefully framed so as not to be in conflict with equally fundamental rights to freedom of expression, while also ensuring that whatever recommendations and directives that it makes, are capable of practical implementation.
No matter how much a piece of legislation might provide safeguards against human rights violations in a theoretical sense, little is accomplished without properly resourced and accessible structures through which violations can be effectively addressed.
In our submission we also stressed the importance of “restorative justice” as a means of dealing with hate crimes, including hate speech, on the understanding that there is a need to address the root cause of the problem by changing “hearts and minds” on the issue of tolerance and diversity.
While it may sometimes be necessary to impose appropriate penalties on those guilty of hate crimes, education, and sensitivity training also have a crucial role to play, not least in fostering an environment where acts, and expressions, of racism and related prejudice are regarded as being completely unacceptable in decent society.
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