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The Jewish Report Editorial

Focus on South Africa, Mr President!

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Throughout the election campaign, the ANC made it clear that its love and care for Palestinians far outweighed its love and care for its own people. It reiterated that again and again, and how Palestinians’ future was so intrinsically linked with that of South Africans.

At the ANC’s final rally, the country’s president, Cyril Ramaphosa – whom I have nicknamed “Brutus” for stabbing us, his former friends, in the back – shouted, “From the river to the sea …!”

There wasn’t a South African flag in sight at that rally. If you didn’t know that it was a gathering of the ruling party of South Africa, you may have thought it was set up somewhere in Gaza to promote the Hamas cause. The focus, especially visually, was on hating Israel and demeaning what the Jewish state stands for. If it wasn’t so devastating to the Jews of this country and abroad – as well as the Western world – it would have been amusing in its absurdity. There was nothing that said it was the governing party challenging others in a national election in South Africa. It was all about a war in the Middle East. And as such, it was horrifying.

When a man like Ramaphosa, who has responsibility for an entire country and all its various communities, calls for the total destruction of the Jewish state and its people, it’s shocking!

It’s not difficult to decipher the meaning of the chant, and Ramaphosa is a smart man. When someone calls for everything from the Jordan River to Mediterranean Sea to become a free Palestinian state, they aren’t calling for a two-state solution. They aren’t calling for a friendly dialogue that leads to peace.

They are calling for the annihilation of the Jewish state and its people.

Mr Ramaphosa, although you haven’t yet bothered, please don’t demean us in trying to convince us that you didn’t mean it like that. Clearly, you believe your responsibility is first and foremost to people who don’t live here, and whom you don’t even know. Clearly, you’re quite happy to take the word of others, rather than finding out both sides of the story for yourself.

I’m so disappointed in you, our president. I and so many in our community believed that you were going to take power and build and fix this country for all who live in it, not sideline and ostracise specific communities.

I find it unconscionable that a South African political party – the ruling party at that – focuses its election campaign on a war in the Middle East. That’s not to say that many of us in our community and in others in South Africa aren’t devastated by what’s happening there. We are. There’s no good news in war. There’s no joy in death. There’s just sadness and pain – and lots of it. Too many innocent people on all sides have been and are being killed and harmed. Remember, Hamas is still holding more than 130 Israelis hostage in Gaza.

However, the national election this week was meant to be about South Africa and all its people. I always understood that a party wins an election because it convinces the electorate that it will build the economy, provide much-needed jobs, maintain or fix infrastructure, and I could go on.

That’s what I’ve always believed gets votes, and that’s what I hoped the ANC would fight for.

In fact, we desperately need a party like that to take charge in our country. How we need a government that truly will be for the people, providing all those essentials! Our country isn’t flourishing. Our country is battling. We’re battling, but our ruling party  is fighting for the rights of Palestinians, not South Africans.

While I agree that too many people are dying in the war with Hamas, are you, Mr President, cognisant of the fact that too many people are dying right here? Judging by the latest South African Police Service statistics, there are an average of 85.7 murders in our country every day, and 169.8 sexual offences committed daily. There are also 88 attempted murders on a daily basis, right here in our country.

So, though I’m sure your foreign friends appreciate what you’re doing for them, it’s hard for most of us to understand why you’re not fighting to stop death and destruction at home. It has been hard not to notice this as we went to vote.

By the time people read this, we will have voted, so it’s a moot point that you, Mr Ramaphosa, and your party, focused on supporting Hamas’s battle rather than that of our own country. But I guess we all have our priorities.

Perhaps, I’m wrong, and most people choose the party that cares more about others than its own people. I could be. However, I find this to be an absurd strategy. But the outcome will be the outcome. I wonder at what cost you did this, Mr President.

Suffice to say, you lost the support you may have got from us when you stopped caring about all of your people and chose those of another country to take precedence.

Fortunately, we live in a democracy and have a strong Constitution. We can manage very well without your support, and clearly you believe you can manage well without ours. We are and will remain a strong community, and we’ll survive your vitriol.

We’ll prevail and bring our best to the country we love.

As far back as this country goes, many Jews fought for what’s right, not necessarily for the government of the day. Many Jews fought the Nationalist Party because they knew it was wrong. Many joined organisations like the ANC or aligned with it to fight apartheid. We know what’s right and wrong and have always fought for the good.

We’ll continue to do so. We’ll continue to do what we believe to be right and fitting within the framework of our beliefs as Jews.

Shabbat shalom!

Peta Krost


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