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Mandela the mensch

It can’t be often a non-Jew is honoured by being referred to as a mensch in the Israeli media, in his case, it was a no-brainer!

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ANT KATZ

The warm statements issued by Israeli and Jewish leaders following Mandela’s death nicely reflect their respect for and appreciation of the man and his legacy eulogised the JERUSALEM POST today.

Although it is still too soon after Nelson Mandela’s death to define his legacy, it is clear that he will remembered in the annals of the history of South Africa and the world as a great man – and as Jewish writer Lionel Slier remarks, one worthy of the Yiddish term “mensch,” a person of true integrity.

Despite Mandela’s ambivalent attitude toward Israel, exemplified by detesting its ties with apartheid South Africa and what he called its occupation of Arab territories, he well-deservedly has been lauded by Israeli leaders, the Jewish community of South Africa and Jews in the Diaspora.

Developing close relations with South African Jewry over the years, Mandela was ready to forgive Israel in the spirit of reconciliation, and urged the Arabs to accept the existence of the Jewish state. “I cannot conceive of Israel withdrawing https://www.sajr.co.za/images/default-source/default-album/bill-clinton-eric-low-res.jpg” />PICTURE RIGHT: Only a mensch would have good friends like Eric Samson (right) and Bill Clinton

 

President Shimon Peres declared: “The world lost a great leader who changed the course of history…Nelson Mandela was a fighter for human rights who left an indelible mark on the struggle against racism and discrimination,” Peres added. “He was a passionate advocate for democracy, a respected mediator, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate and, above all, a builder of bridges of peace and dialogue who paid a heavy personal price for his struggle in the years he spent in prison and fighting for his people. Nelson Mandela’s legacy for his people and for the world will forever remain engraved in the pages of history and the hearts of all those who were touched by him.”

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu called Mandela “the father of his country, a man of vision and a freedom fighter who disavowed violence…He was never haughty,” said Netanyahu. “He worked to heal rifts within South African society and succeeded in preventing outbreaks of racial hatred. He will be remembered as the father of the new South Africa and a moral leader of the highest order.”

Jewish Agency chairman Natan Sharansky recalled his meeting with Mandela. “Nelson Mandela was able to transform an armed campaign into a peaceful struggle for human rights,” Sharansky said. “In so doing, he succeeded in building bridges and fostering cooperation where such ties had previously been unimaginable. When we met in 1990, several months after his release from prison and several years after mine, I was struck by his ability to see beyond the immediate goals of his efforts, pursuing the brighter future he wished to see for all South Africans.”

World Jewish Congress president Ronald Lauder said Mandela was “unquestionably the most inspiring human rights advocate of our times…Nelson Mandela was one of those very rare leaders who were revered not just by their own people but universally, across all political and communal divides,” Lauder said. “As a builder of bridges, he was second to none, and with his huge charisma, wisdom, democratic convictions and tremendous determination he ensured that the transition of his country from an apartheid state into a free and democratic nation was successful.”

One of Mandela’s closest friends was the late South African chief rabbi Cyril Harris, whom Mandela called “my rabbi.” For his part, Harris once wrote: “Of all the friendships I have been fortunate enough to enjoy, the most special is with Nelson Mandela.”

South Africa’s current chief rabbi, Warren Goldstein, noted that Jews had “a long, close and meaningful relationship” with Mandela. “It was a friendship that involved every stage of Mandela’s life, from his earliest days as a law student and an attorney’s articled clerk in Johannesburg.

South African Jews were with Mandela as fellow liberation fighters and as lawyers defending him at the Rivonia trial, as visitors during his long and lonely years on Robben Island, and then in assisting in the exciting years of building the new South Africa,” Goldstein said. “And so we mourn his loss together with our fellow South Africans and with all people across the world. Our hearts are, however, filled with gratitude for the unique blessing of his great life which we in South Africa were especially privileged to experience so closely.”

We can only add: “Amen.”

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New York Times rebuked

Paper’s public editor rebukes The New York Times reporter for asking PhD candidate David McCleary, pic. ‘demeaning’ questions as he didn’t look Jewish

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ANT KATZ

A reporter for the New York Times came under fire for asking a Jewish Ph.D. candidate “insulting and demeaning” questions for an article on the anti-Israel boycott, divestment and sanctions movement on college campuses across the US.

The questions that were asked of University of California, Berkeley candidate David McCleary, included whether he “looked Jewish” given his apparently non-Jewish sounding last name and whether he had had a barmitzvah.

NYT rebuked


RIGHT: The New York Times Editor weighs in on ‘demeaning’ questions to Jewish PhD student.


McCleary promptly wrote to the office of the New York Times’ public editor, whose job it is to respond to questions of the newspaper’s integrity.

He said he was “displeased” that his remarks were withheld from the ultimate publication of the story and that no Jewish student who supports the BDS movement on campuses was quoted.

McCleary’s complaint to the Times’ public editor, Margaret Sullivan, who in the end agreed that such questioning was “unprofessional and unacceptable,” underlined the brouhaha around an article published by the newspaper last Saturday about the BDS movement and its consequences on college campuses.

Responding to Sullivan’s admission, McCleary told the Algemeiner: “While the Jewish litmus test I received was offensive, it isn’t nearly as offensive as the New York Times ignoring my voice and thousands like me who are Jewish students in favour of BDS for Israel.”

Piece didn’t provide evidence 

Critics of the story have argued that the piece itself did not provide much evidence to back the complaint of its headline, which states that the BDS issue “drives a wedge” between Jews and minority groups on campus.

“To make this into a ‘Minority vs Jewish’ question, without supplying evidence, is to distort the issue,” said David Nasaw, the Arthur M Schlesinger Junior professor of history at Graduate Centre, City University of New York.

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Unique baby names @ just $31k

Expectant parents who are struggling to find a unique name for their baby are in luck. JTA reports this Swiss company will do it for you, for just $31,000!

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ANT KATZ

Expectant parents, if you’re paging through baby name pages looking for a unique name to no avail (have you checked ours yet?), you’re in luck. Erfolgswelle – a Swiss firm that specialises in naming babies – will happily volunteer its 32 person staff to spend 100 hours searching for unique, copyright-free names for your child.

All for the tune of $31,000, because who needs a college fund really? Squares, that’s who, and you’ll be damned if your kid becomes anything less than the uniquely-shaped polygon he or she was born to be.

But, writes Suzanne Samin on JTA’s KVELLER, “in all seriousness, I totally get wanting a special name for your kid. I just don’t get spending an arm and leg for it by contracting out a service like this one. But, to each his or her own, and if you’re really into the idea of hiring out a monolith to name your child, they’re offering to reimburse the full charge for the first couple to report their new baby name to the media within two weeks of receiving it.”

WIZOChristianZionistspic1
How cute is this? Not $31,000 – that’s for sure!

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Darth Zeder & a wonky knee

Special needs self-styled “passenger from hell” on ElAl couldn’t match his needs with his budget.

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STAFF REPORTER

Will I fly ElAl again next time? Hell yeh! Not only were they great at what they do, they and came through with ‘flying’ colours!

In a recent BLOG BY ANT KATZ, SAJR Online’s editor asks: “What is it with SA Jewry and ElAl?” Ant says that “SA Jewry fall into the pro- or anti-ElAl camp,” and then proceeds to give an account of his own experience of flying with the airline last month.

In the blog entitled: “Facts, fun and fallacies about ElAl,” Katz says that it was “the hapstance of timing” that had resulted in his flying on the Airline. “As it happened, on the week I was travelling, ElAl offered the lowest price, most suitable times for me, and, what’s more, the only non-stop route which was important as embarking and disembarking was going to be difficult for me at the time.

Passenger from hell

“You see,” says Ant Katz, “on this trip, I was the customer from hell! I was a special-needs passenger who could not match his needs with his budget. I needed wheelchair assistance to board and disembark, a seat with extra legroom and a 110 or 220v electric plug” at his seat.

“Suffice it to say, in a very Jewish and/or Israeli way, one way or another, my needs were met completely, against ElAl policies and despite all the naysayers” in the community, blogs Ant. “Here’s the thing… the one simple fact: In so many ways, ElAl was incredible.”

He proceeds to share his tale about ElAl policies being the most stringent he has ever encountered, and accuses the ‘serial complainers’ in the community of having “groomed” him to expect otherwise.

As it turned out, ElAl moved heaven and earth to accommodate him – even sending a technical team to modify a plane close to midnight at Ben Gurion airport. 

READ THE FULL BLOG

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