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Iran uncloaked

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For decades, Iran has waged a ceaseless war against Israel through its Hamas, Hezbollah, and most recently, Houthi proxies, funding, arming, and doubtlessly directing them behind the scenes while they do the actual fighting.

All this changed on Saturday night, with the first-ever direct Iranian attack on the Jewish state. It wasn’t a token operation to avenge the recent deaths of several high-ranking Iranian military personnel in an Israeli strike, but an all-out barrage of hundreds of deadly missiles. Thanks to Israel’s outstanding air-defence capability along with the assistance of the United States, United Kingdom, France, and several Arab states, only a tiny fraction of these ultimately reached Israeli territory, and those that did caused negligible damage. For that, we’re profoundly relieved. The fact that leading Arab states stood shoulder to shoulder with Israel against this blatant act of aggression by Iran was also a historic moment.

Unsurprisingly, South Africa’s foreign affairs minister not only failed to condemn Iran’s reckless and unlawful attack, but bizarrely intimated that it was Israel that was to blame for destabilising the region. As the statement we issued earlier this week put it, this only underscored “the moral bankruptcy of this government’s foreign policy, where Iran and its proxy, Russia, and other rogue actors on the international stage are consistently given a free pass to continue wreaking their lawless mayhem around the globe”.

In addition to its impact on broader geopolitics, the destabilisation of the global order by Israel-hating fundamentalists is happening continually at local, domestic level. Since 7 October, Jewish communities the world over have without exception experienced a steep rise in attacks against them. Especially threatened is the ability of community members to continue to identify with and show support for Israel, something that in democratic societies was all but taken as a given in years gone by. The aggressive demonstrations outside the recent Aliyah Expos in Johannesburg and Cape Town were illustrative of how certain factions in this country are bent on preventing our community from expressing this aspect of their identity and beliefs. While the events themselves were well attended and went ahead without disruption, there were many instances of verbal abuse, intimidation, malicious damage to property, and even attempted assault outside the respective venues. We’re in the process of following up on these incidents with our legal advisors, with charges having already been laid in two cases.

As this is the last issue of the SA Jewish Report until after Pesach, this is my last chance to remind everyone that Yom Hashoah will take place on 6 May. Guest speaker at West Park Cemetery will be survivor Miriam Lazarus, while there will be further, pre-recorded, survivor testimony from Rena Quint, who many will remember from when she came out from Israel to speak at Yom Hashoah in 2013. For more information about this year’s ceremony, see our Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter/X accounts.

On behalf of the South African Jewish Board of Deputies, I wish everyone a Chag Pesach kasher v’sameach. As we join our families for the Pesach seders, I hope everyone has a meaningful and delicious seder, always mindful of the hostages still languishing in the tunnels of Gaza. We also think of the innocent victims of the war in Israel and Gaza, and pray for peace and the reunification of the hostages with their families.

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

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