Israel’s new government a model of diversity
In contrast to the Palestinian Authority (PA) which last held elections in January 2006, and yet again cancelled elections scheduled for 22 May 2021, Israel’s vibrant democracy has produced the broadest coalition of eight political parties in its history.
What is particularly noticeable about Israel’s new government is that it excludes all Jewish religious parties, and includes a Palestinian Arab party, Ra’am, led by Mansour Abbas. While Ra’am recognises Israel and aims for a two-state solution to the intractable Palestinian/Israeli conflict, it adheres to the Islamic movement, which advocates for Islam in Israel and Sharia law.
Having an Islamist party inside government deals a decisive blow to those denigrators of Israel who accuse it of “ethnic cleansing” and “Judaisation”. While Israel is inclusive of Islam and religious freedom and even accepts a party which propagates Islam, the PA denies the right of even one Jew to live in any future Palestinian state.
Ra’am will serve the interests of Arab society, in particular helping to address the housing shortage of the rapidly growing Palestinian and Bedouin populations, where three new towns and cities will be recognised in the Negev region in southern Israel. Budgets for development aid and improvements to infrastructure to Arabs exceed R265 billion, which is about 20% of South Africa’s total budget. In addition, more than 12 billion has been pledged to fight organised crime and violence in Arab society.
Israeli Arabs play an active role in Israeli society, and are well represented as high court judges, medical doctors, scientists, diplomats, and even as officers in the border police and military. Arabs comprise at least 20% of the student complement at the best Israeli universities, and their education levels are higher than any other Arab country.
Israel is truly a model for intercommunal relations between diverse religious and ethnic groups. I wish the new government “long live” and great success!
Tribute to a man who embodies Judaism at its best
As the Torah observant manager of a busy food establishment and as a member of the Jewish community, I wish to give thanks and recognition to a pillar of righteousness.
Rabbi Yossi Baumgarten joined the United Orthodox Synagogues (UOS) kashrut department more than 40 years ago, and gave the prime of his life to serve the community.
No factory was too far. No mashgiach question was turned away, even if called at 01:00.
Baumgarten addressed kashrut matters with integrity and honesty, and with a zest and energy that motivated and inspired all those who had the privilege and honour to work with him.
I once had the privilege of going on a trip with Baumgarten. The man is utter Judaism. From the way he treats others, to the way he ties his shoes and walks. His greatness is in his kindness, humility, and truthfulness.
The UOS kashrut department has been internationally recognised for decades as a result of the sterling input of Baumgarten, and this is evident by the many calls and messages he would field throughout the day from people all over the world. Whether it be a call from the Orthodox Union or the OK or Star K certification agencies, or a mashgiach or local housewife, the Jewish local community and the kosher world at large owe Baumgarten a debt of gratitude.
On behalf of the Mashgiach Association, we wish Baumgarten much strength and success in all his future endeavours.
Deafening silence about Afghanistan, hue and cry about Israel
Tali Feinberg’s excellent piece in the SA Jewish Report (2 September) titled Africa4Palestine Compares Israel to Nazi Germany, offers sufficient expert academic opinion to totally discredit this narrative that is the backbone of the organisation’s campaign. That crusade together with the continuous use of the apartheid canard has one goal only: the total destruction and delegitimisation of Israel. Both apartheid and Nazi myths carry powerful emotive connotations.
While these falsehoods are somewhat over-played and over-used, Israel’s defensive operations are what elevates the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions organisation’s attack to a crescendo. Just months ago, the world erupted in a show of anger, with hordes filling the streets of capital cities, admonishing only Israel during a conflict with the Hamas terror group.
Contrast that to the recent get together in which Hamas and Islamic Jihad poured congratulations on the Taliban for the takeover of Afghanistan and broke bread together. These Sunni terror groups, including Al-Qaeda, share an ideology of gender violence and misogyny, and support each other in multiple ways. Of course, the Taliban’s unmentionable barbaric treatment of women has been well documented and condemned by most of the world.
Those throngs of protesters voicing thunderous support for Hamas, the blood brothers of the Taliban, now manifest a deafening silence. Where is “the squad” – Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ayanna Pressley, Ilhan Omar, and Rashida Tlaib? Not forgetting Jewish college students on the left, who all had much to say in their condemnation of the only country in the region able to stand up to terrorism of this kind.
Are those protesters oblivious to the plight of Afghan girls and women?
US left’s outrage over Kabul bombing smacks of hypocrisy
As the deadline for the evacuation of those desperate to flee the Taliban take-over of Afghanistan approaches, ISIS (the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) detonated two deadly suicide explosions in the airport precinct of Kabul, killing more than 60 civilians together with 13 United States (US) military personnel.
This tragedy as the events in Afghanistan unfold bought home the reality of having to contend with these types of contemptable and despicable atrocities that aren’t foreign to the Middle East – not to forget where suicide bombing originated more than 20 years ago.
The untimely deaths of the 13 US servicemen has had a profound effect on the psyche of the American public, whose outrage is expressed in most prominent press reports, and is a stark reminder of the dangers of foreign assistance to unstable areas around the world.
Why should American boys die while defending freedom and democracy, is a question on everybody’s lips.
Most Americans, from Democratic liberals to the Republicans, are outraged and incensed – about the only time that the two agree on anything. Even those high-profile celebrities, with the likes of “The Squad” – Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ayanna Pressley, Ilhan Omar, and Rashida Tlaib. Not to forget Trevor Noah and the Hadid girls, and of course, the left Jewish college students, who all had much to say in their condemnation of the only country in the region able to stand up to terrorism of this kind.
Just a short while back, these good folk were singing the praises of another organisation, the actual founders and inventors of suicide attacks, in fact showing no remorse whatsoever that such attacks are perpetrated against other democracies. In those cases, the perpetrators are the heroes, and the victims condemned by this coterie. Would this set be accused of hypocrisy? Surely not, given the outrage demonstrated today in the US.