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Human rights above all else




Now, social media campaigns are a dime a dozen these days and mostly, they are marketing tools to make money. However, last year the #MeToo campaign showed how a social media campaign can make a real difference. Women around the world felt empowered to speak out about having been sexually assaulted or harassed. They spoke out because they felt safe in numbers as the campaign went viral and many sexual predators were outed as a result

The #WeRemember campaign is about remembering the Holocaust. The idea behind it is to educate people about what happened, especially in light of anti-Semitism having risen to the highest level since World War ll. The WJC is calling on all of us to make a sign that reads #WeRemember, take a photograph of ourselves with it and put it up on all the social media in which we dabble.

So, why should we do this?

Just last week, someone close to me was criticising the outcry around the H&M debacle, where the retailer showed a black child in a sweatshirt with the words “Coolest monkey in the jungle” printed on it in an advertising campaign.

She whispered to me: “It is ridiculous. Why don’t they just get over it?” My response was: “How do you feel when people say that we – as Jews – should get over the Holocaust?” She immediately got my meaning.

That’s the point! There is no getting over or forgetting what happened. The only way to ensure it can’t happen again is to make sure the world knows and is never allowed to forget or “get over it”.

As the WJC says: “Every year, the memory of the Holocaust fades – and more survivors pass away”, so we need to do something to keep the memory alive. Last year, the campaign reached more than 250 million people, so let’s participate and help increase the impact. It doesn’t take much. Join me in doing so.

Water crisis

Moving back home and to current events, I am so disheartened by what is happening in Cape Town around water. (See page 2 and 3.)

Seeing how clearly the drought and the availability of water are being used as a political football, a game of one-upmanship chills me to the core. Water is not a political tool – water is a human right. How dare the government and the political parties use the lives of our people as pawns in their manipulative chess games!

If a nation has turned its arid desert country into an oasis, they are experts. Israel is a world expert in water technology. If the Israeli government keeps offering to help you with your crisis, you don’t ignore it just because you aren’t a fan of its politics.

So, just because you believe Israel treats others (in this case, Palestinians) badly, you can let the whole of Cape Town dry up so that your own people do not have access to running water. What part of that makes sense? In an attempt to punish a country, which really isn’t going to feel it, you are punishing your own people. Or, let’s put it this way: In the name of Palestinian human rights, the human rights of South Africans have been dismissed by the South African government. I don’t get it! What about the rights of the people of Cape Town?

When Cape Town runs out of water, the horror of disease will escalate. The tourism industry will come to a standstill. Jobs will be lost because companies that rely on water will be unable to continue operating. Schools will close. The old, sick and infirm will suffer and may die because there is no water. This is the tip of the iceberg. Truth is, the poor will be most affected and people will die.

All this, when a year ago they could have saved the situation by accepting help from a country whose politics some of them do not like.

Right now, it may be too late to call on Israel, who are not in the business of miracles. It is too little, too late. I am sure they would do what they can, but there’s not much that can be done at this point down the line. This situation is appalling, especially because it could have so easily been averted.

So, remember to join me in the #WeRemember campaign.

Shabbat Shalom! 

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