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Voices

Communal security our responsibility

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Last week brought with it the disturbing news that armed robbers in Johannesburg had invaded a shul after a service and tied up and robbed those who remained in the building. Fortunately, the victims weren’t harmed, but the incident was a sobering reminder of our need – as individuals and as a community – to be continually aware of our environment and take whatever steps possible to secure our installations from attack. In this respect, we need to be guided at all times by the Community Security Organisation (CSO), which for nearly 30 years has acted as the security arm of the Jewish community and to that end, has developed carefully considered protocols, procedures, and guidelines to help its members to protect themselves.

Regardless of whether the threat is criminal or terrorist related, the lesson we need to take from this incident as well as from other attacks against Jewish institutions around the world is that it’s crucial for Jewish organisations everywhere to be security-conscious and take practical steps to ensure the safety of their installations.

The CSO, working in conjunction with the police and security companies, can be relied upon to maintain the highest standards of vigilance and professionalism in protecting our community, but in order to be effective, it’s reliant on the support and co-operation of the greater Jewish public. From the start, it has functioned as a professionally-headed body working with a larger volunteer base, and this has proven very effective. Those volunteers who stand outside their shuls and schools and at major communal functions are performing a critical role since by maintaining a visible presence, being constantly aware of their environment, and reporting all suspicious or unexplained activity, they ensure that those wishing to target our community won’t take us unawares, and that appropriate procedures are followed in the event of an attack.

Those not involved with the CSO must make every effort to co-operate with and assist that organisation to the greatest extent that they can, both by complying with the security recommendations it provides and by following its directives. It’s further incumbent on all of us to be constantly on the look-out for suspicious activity, and immediately report anything out of the ordinary to the CSO on 086 1800 018. Those requiring any advice about improving the security of their installation should email jhbroutine@cso.org.za.

We won’t be sidelined

Following on my last column reporting on the BDS-inspired attack on a Jewish candidate for the Constitutional Court, the South African Jewish Board of Deputies has since devoted much effort to engaging with the media to express our outrage about this latest attempt to prevent Jews – or at least the vast majority who refuse to endorse the radical anti-Israel ideology of the boycott lobby – from holding public office in South Africa. In terms of the Constitutional Court issue, this is something we will be addressing with relevant people in the coming weeks and months. As those who have been following the debates over appointments to what is the country’s highest judicial body will understand, it’s a complex matter, and needs to be dealt with sensitively and with due consideration of all the facts. However this question is pursued, I can assure you all that our community’s right to dignity and equality is non-negotiable, and this is of great importance to the board.

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

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