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Israeli Officials fail to pitch at SA Embassy memorial

“We invited members of the Government but as I look out upon you all I cannot see any,” said Ambassador Sisa Ngombane. “WOW!” writes Dave Kaplan from Israel.

Wow indeed!

This will likely be a story that many users wish to comment on and debate – coming in the wake of the Israeli Government’s perceived snub of Tuesday’s memorial service for Madiba.



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Dave Kaplan from Israel writes:

The diplomatic fiasco goes from bad to worse – see Haaretz article below on today’s memorial service to Mandela at the SA Embassy’s residence – I am also quoted in it.

As you can see from the article’s heading – Israeli lawmakers (government and opposition) gave it a miss. To amplify the embarrassment, the SA Ambassador Sisa Ngombane in his opening remarks before a large audience of Israelis and expat South Africans in a rain-drenched tarpaulin said: – “We invited members of the Government but as I look out upon you all I cannot see any.” WOW!!!!!!! “The general consensus of those I spoke to clearly interpreted this remark as not simply an observation of fact but  a gloves-off public rebuke sending a clear MESSAGE of “We’re here, where are you?”

 It was a stunning disgrace, amplified by the diplomatic fiasco that preceded it…… The Israeli Foreign Ministry appears rudderless with a PM whose mind is sunbathing in the Bahamas….

  •  Dave Kaplan is an ex-pat Sourth African journalist living in Israel where he is editor of a number of English magazines. He is also the co-founder of TbT (Truth be Told) as well as a former Chairman of Telfed

The Haaretz article:

Israeli lawmakers miss SA embassy memorial

By Judy Maltz

About 150 diplomats and immigrants from South Africa crowded into a huge tent set up outside the residence of Pretoria’s ambassador to Israel on Wednesday to pay tribute to the late Nelson Mandela.

Conspicuously absent from the jam-packed event, which included an interfaith prayer service and a tribute to the deceased South African leader by the dean of the diplomatic corps in Israel, were any representatives of the cabinet or Knesset.

Sisa Ngombane, the South African ambassador to Israel, told Haaretz that five Knesset members had notified him that they would attend the ceremony, and he was therefore surprised that none had shown up.

The ambassador’s residence is located in the Tel Aviv suburb of Ramat Gan, just a few doors down from the home of Likud cabinet minister and presidential hopeful, Silvan Shalom.

The only Israeli politician in attendance at the event was former member of Knesset, Talab al-Sana, the longest serving Israeli Arab parliamentarian. “I felt obligated to be here at this moment and pay my respects to a man who was a phenomenon and a symbol and contributed not only to South Africa but to all of mankind,” he told Haaretz. “As a Palestinian, I have special regard for his contribution.”

Al-Sana said he was not surprised to find himself the only Israeli politician in the crowd. “Unfortunately, darkness doesn’t like light, and that is what Mandela symbolized – all those things that are an antithesis to the values Israel upholds.”

David Kaplan, the former chairman of the South African Zionist Federation in Israel, said he was moved that such a large crowd had made time in the middle of a very rainy day to pay respects to South Africa’s first black president and the leader of its anti-Apartheid movement. “Despite the lousy weather, people felt the need to come together to mourn Mandela’s death and celebrate his legacy,” he said.

 The South African ambassador to Israel opened his address by singing a popular folk song. He was joined by other South Africans in the crowd, several of whom broke out in tears as they sang.

He rose out of nothing to embrace the hopes and wishes unfulfilled by his parents and a nation,” Ngombane eulogized Mandela.

Henri Etoundi Essomba, the ambassador from Cameroon and the dean of the diplomatic corps in Israel, delivered words of condolence on behalf of the entire diplomatic community.

Rabbi Stewart Weiss, director of the Jewish Outreach Center in Raanana, said his hope was that “the leaders of this turbulent region should be infused with some of the traits that made Mandela a great leader.”

Itzhak Gerberg, a representative of the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs and former ambassador to Zimbabwe, said that “if there ever was a leader who is entitled to be an international icon of freedom and peace, this was Mandela.”

Many of the guests lined up to sign a memorial book after the ceremony. One young woman, who noted that she had immigrated to Israel from South Africa in 2009, wrote that Mandela was “the man responsible for making me a proud South African.”

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  1. Michael Golding

    Dec 13, 2013 at 8:22 am

    ‘I cannot believe what I have just read. While I am a proud supporter of Israel this current government has made me hang my head in shame. Have you no respect for your fellow Jews in South Africa, let alone a global icon who could teach everyone a lesson in reconciliation?’

  2. anon

    Dec 14, 2013 at 7:03 pm

    BIBI has to GO. He is a stupid , ultra arrogant man who has embarrassed the entire world Jewish community and further isolated Israel. He has moved Israel into the apartheid state perception and  really hurt the relationship with South Africa and endangered its Jewish community.

    The clear message is  \”BI- BI  BIBI\”

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Looking for descendants of Lithuanian great-grandfather



I would be grateful for any information a reader may have as I search for descendants of my great-grandfather, Eliahu Zvi Bloch, a Kohen who lived in Anassisic/Anusshishok, Lithuania, near the Latvian border, from roughly 1820 to 1900.

My grandfather, Elchanon, the son of Eliahu Zvi and his third wife, Sarah Oralowich, who grew up in an orphanage, is the only one of the family who emigrated to the United States. I recall hearing that some of Elchanon’s siblings or half-siblings emigrated to South Africa in the first half of the last century.

I know very little else. I believe the family migrated to Lithuania from Germany around 1750 or 1800, that Eliahu Zvi’s father lived to be 100, and that Eliahu Zvi was 66 years old when my grandfather was born. It’s possible that some family members migrated to Israel, either prior to statehood or after living in South Africa. I would welcome any information, even if marginally related to my family, such as knowledge of life in Anassisic/Anusshishok. I live in Silver Spring, Maryland, United States, and can be reached at

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Only those on the frontline should be vaccinated



I read in dismay of doctors, often in private practice who never see a COVID-19-positive patient, who are rushing off with their wives and administration clerks to get to the front of the queue to be vaccinated. I see psychologists and other allied professionals flaunting the fact that they have been vaccinated or elbowing their way to the vaccine table.

While this happens, nearly a million health workers in the public sector who are actually dealing with COVID-19-positive patients in surgery, anaesthetics, intensive-care units, and emergency departments, treating patients with hands-on care, haven’t yet received their vaccinations. These are the frontline workers who are at risk. These are the doctors, nurses, and allied professionals who are dying. They aren’t there for the glory or the large salary but because they are committed to making a difference, to healing, and to contributing to a better world. I urge all of you who aren’t dealing directly with patients who breathe, cough, or spit at you, who can treat patients while maintaining a social distance and wearing masks, not to rush to the front of the queue. Leave the limited supply of vaccines for the real frontline workers. Everyone will get a vaccine. You may have to wait a few more months, but in the meantime, you can take precautions and be safe.

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Letters/Discussion Forums

Protest not a creative solution to education funding crisis



Regarding your editorial (SA Jewish Report, 19 March 2021), in which you support Gabi Farber and others in protesting against inadequate funding for tertiary education, I agree with you about the importance of education and your sympathy for those who have difficulty financing their aspirations. Furthermore, I commend Farber for all the effort she has put in to explore multiple avenues to assist these students.

The truth as you so clearly state is that South Africa finds itself in a very difficult financial reality for multiple unfortunate reasons. But, confronting this reality requires creative and innovative ideas rather than avoidance with protests, which almost always result in significant vandalism – though I’m certain that was never Farber’s intention. In addition, whenever the government has been intimidated into providing additional funding for students as a result of violent protest, it has almost always been to the disadvantage of other South Africans in greater need.

I don’t deny that there are times when protest is the only option available, but this isn’t such a time. In her op-ed, Farber insists that all alternatives were explored before resorting to protests. However, if thousands of our brightest young people are unable to find creative ways out of their present difficulty, it’s unlikely South Africa will ever extricate itself from its present quagmire.

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