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International expert sheds light

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This week featured a visit by eminent Israeli diplomat, lawyer, and writer Daniel Taub. An expert in international law with specialisations in counterterrorism and the laws of war, as well as a former Israeli ambassador to the United Kingdom, Taub was brought out to speak on matters pertaining to the war against Hamas and more specifically the outcomes and implications of the case against Israel lodged by South Africa at the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

In light of the one-sided, politically driven narrative around that case in this country, the presence of an internationally renowned legal expert of Taub’s calibre was an invaluable opportunity for us to present a different perspective. To this end, we put together a packed programme including meetings with most of the main opposition parties in Parliament; sessions with lawyers in Johannesburg and Cape Town; meetings with Jewish leaders in both centres; and media interviews including on eNCA. It was extremely important both for our own community and for those who have loyally stood by us during these trying times to engage with someone thoroughly versed in the issues and who has been at the coalface of dealing with them. We’re grateful to Taub for his valuable time and expertise, and for his encouragement and support.

Delegation to Israel

South African Jewish Board of Deputies President Zev Krengel and National Director Wendy Kahn, together with the leadership of the South African Zionist Federation, recently visited Israel to engage with political leadership and brief it on the situation in South Africa. One of the things stressed during the various meetings was that difficult though these times are for our community, there are many people from across the board who strenuously oppose the African National Congress (ANC) government’s stance on Israel and are fighting back in various ways. Mention was made of the Christian community and of the stance taken by most of the opposition in Parliament.

It was important for the Israeli leadership to understand that what was being declared by government spokespeople on political platforms wasn’t necessarily the view of people on the street. When speaking on the subject, Kahn always describes how the reaction from ordinary members of the public to the events we have organised on behalf of the hostages has been overwhelmingly one of genuine concern and empathy. This, as we well know, has been signally absent in the stance taken by the ANC government even though the ICJ explicitly included the immediate release of all the hostages in its judgment. Notably, South Africa’s most recent approach to the ICJ, in which it unsuccessfully asked the court to rule against Israel’s military operations in Rafah, included no mention whatever of this critical issue.

During her visit, Kahn travelled with a delegation from the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations to visit communities in southern Israel devastated by the 7 October attacks. She also met the families of hostages and Aviva Siegel, the South African hostage who was freed but whose husband is still being held in Gaza. A particularly harrowing aspect of the hostages’ plight that has come to light is the sexual abuse that is continually taking place against men and women. It further underlines the urgency of obtaining their release, as a critical humanitarian issue in itself, quite aside from its being essential to ending the conflict. As a party that has been so involved in trying to bring about a ceasefire, one can only wonder why the ANC government has been so consistently passive on this front.

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

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