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Israel haters call for probe into Jewish organisations



Local Israel-hating extremist groups have called on the South African justice ministry to probe “the activities of groups such as the Israel Centre, Jewish Agency for Israel, and their roles in advocacy of aliya”. They have also insisted that the South African Police Service and the National Prosecuting Authority “investigate Zionist organisations like the SAZF [South African Zionist Federation] and SAJBD [South African Jewish Board of Deputies] for their support of the Israel apartheid state”.

The Palestinian Solidarity Alliance (PSA), Media Review Network (MRN), and Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) put out a statement in this regard on 7 April, also calling for the arrest of Colonel Golan Vach, who was visiting South Africa to take part in the Israel Centre’s Aliyah Expo.

In the statement, these organisations claim that the Aliyah Expo was “a mere cover to recruit mercenaries that will assist Israel to kill Palestinians”.

“The South African government’s anti-Israel stance could embolden those who want to cause harm to Jews,” says a security specialist, speaking on condition of anonymity. “A lot of the anti-Israel rhetoric we see on social media encourages groups and individuals to ‘take matters into their own hands’. This may result in radical elements seeing this as a call to action. Although the vast majority of South Africans want nothing to do with hurting Jews, we cannot ignore the fact that there’s a small minority who do.”

“The BDS [Boycott Divestment Sanctions] coalition clearly feels that it’s open season on any Jews who support Israel, regardless of what the Constitution says about freedom of religion, association, and belief,” says SAJBD National Director Wendy Kahn. “The Jewish community won’t be intimidated by them. They are a fringe group who make a mockery of democratic values.”

The PSA, MRN, and PSC said that “recruitment” for the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) “may be underway” in South Africa, and that Minister in the Presidency Khumbudzo Ntshavheni recently confirmed that individuals participating in the war “are a threat to the interests of the republic, and will be prosecuted”.

The Israel-hating co-operative claimed Vach was “at the centre of this recent wave of recruitment”, and that “the Zionist state is desperate to bolster its troops, with South Africa as one of its hunting grounds”.

The statement demanded that Vach be “arrested to face trial in South Africa”, saying he was “aided and abetted by South African Zionist groups bent on selling Palestinian land to willing racist buyers here. This event [the Aliyah Expo] was held recently in Cape Town, resulting in the disturbance of peace and harmony in the community.”

The organisations neglected to mention that it was their supporters who disturbed peace and harmony in the community as they viciously targeted a synagogue and motorists in its vicinity, while holding up blatantly antisemitic signs [see page 3].

“We call on Police Minister Bheki Cele to intervene urgently by probing Vach’s purpose and role in South Africa,” read the statement. Meanwhile, Vach has already left South Africa.

SAZF Chairperson Rowan Polovin notes that “Colonel Golan Vach has led the IDF’s renowned national rescue unit of the Home Front Command with distinction, contributing significantly to global humanitarian aid and disaster-relief efforts. It stands ready to assist in emergencies anywhere, including in South Africa. It’s tragic that antisemitic groups seek to demonise citizens of the world’s only Jewish state.”

In fact, Vach was at the Aliyah Expo to speak on the topic “Make aliya as a unified group”. A private citizen, he’s chief executive of Israela, which works with the ministry of absorption and the Jewish Agency in bringing together families and accompanying their absorption process.

Speaking to the SA Jewish Report from Israel, Vach said Israela had been running this model in France for more than 30 years, which had resulted in about 2 000 French Jewish families making aliya, with 98% remaining in Israel. Three years ago, the programme expanded to South America, and it’s now reaching out to potential olim in South Africa, Canada, and Australia.

Vach’s organisation realised the power of people making aliya as a community, which provided support and familiarity. The organisation works with several families from similar backgrounds to make aliya together, and helps them find a place in Israel that matches their values and is able and willing to receive olim. The organisation then provides support to the families as they integrate.

Dafi Kremer, the director of the Israel Centre, says Vach’s meetings were cut short following threats from hostile organisations, “in spite of the great demand for the programme that Golan directs. We will hold Zoom meetings with Golan to allow more people interested in making aliya to hear about his special programme that allows immigrants to be absorbed into an English-speaking communities with broad Israeli support.” She says 26 representatives who deal with aliya and integration came to the expo.

Regarding calls for his arrest, Vach says he found them “hilarious”.

“They say I must be arrested because I admitted that I killed two Palestinians. What they didn’t mention is that I killed two terrorists that shot at me. So, what’s the problem? That I should have let the terrorists kill me? That all Jews should cease to exist?”

Vach witnessed the protests outside the Aliyah Expo, and says he feels sorry for those involved, as their behaviour gives insight into their “inner world”. In places where radical Islam dominates, the basic principles of society are being eroded, he says. “Even if they knew how many Muslims I rescued [in the Turkey earthquake and other disasters], it would make no difference to them because they are blind with hatred.

“The worst thing South Africa has done is to create this toxic environment for Jews so that they will want to leave,” he says. “I feel sorry for the country, as Jews contribute so much to society.”

Vach says he found a warm, welcoming community in South Africa, and thanks every person who played their part in hosting him and others. “In Israel, the South African Jewish community has a very good name, but coming to South Africa exceeded expectations,” he says. “I felt at home after a few minutes.”

He believes the South African Jewish community is “ready to come home”, and that Israel will benefit from its contribution. “I hope Jews will return not as a result of hatred in South Africa, but from the deep connection to their ancient homeland.”

Vach, who has seen much devastation in his rescue work, in October 2023 described the [Nova] festival as “the most difficult scene I’ve witnessed in my life. I’ve had 20 years of natural disasters. I was a combat officer in Lebanon and in Hebron. I’ve seen everything, and this was something else.”

In their statement, the organisations said Vach had lied about the atrocities he witnessed, including a decapitated baby.

In response, Vach says many of the bodies he found were so shrunken from being burned, it was difficult to know if they were babies or children. Either way, many heads were missing from bodies, and many bodies were unrecognisable. “Terrorists burned, raped, shot, took heads off. But if you want to focus on if it was a baby or a child, if its head was attached or not, and ignore the pure evil that took place, then we know exactly where you stand and the kind of person you are,” he says.

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