New body to pressurise BDS & Varsities
Israel Apartheid Week, which this year will run on campuses and other sites from 10 to 16 March, is planning to be bigger and better, BDS-SA’s Desai told SAJR Online. But the SA franchise of the global Lawyers For Israel group say they have discovered how IAW gets funded by “irregular misuse of public funds” and plans to do something about it.
Israel Apartheid Week, it emerges, is relying on Univerity’s using Public Funds for BDS – just how much remains unclear as much of it, says SA Lawyers for Israel, may be hidden away in the books!
The dates of Israel Apartheid Week 2014 will be from 10 to 16 March. BDS’ chief executive, Muhammed Desai, today told the Jewish Report that the organisation is planning to have an IAW “three to four times larger than last year.” He says there will be many more additional sites than last year “and many more organisations endorsing the campaign.”
However, a forensic audit by the newly formed SA franchise of “Lawyers for Israel” which is currently underway into the financing of the annual Israel Apartheid Week (IAW) has already found that “the irregular misuse of public funds,” could be footing the bill for the entire exercise. More evidence of the local arm of US-based NGO Boycott, Divest and Sanction (BDS-SA) together with supporters and staff at SA campuses have been shown to be colluding to remove Zionist staff not supporting their cause, documents show.
David Rosenberg, an associate Professor of accounting at Rhodes, who is an internationally-recognised speaker on good governance, says he has been shocked at what he has seen emerging from the investigation.
The investigation is being conducted by “SA Lawyers for Israel” – a local offshoot of the international Lawyers for Israel movement of which well-known Joburg lawyer Hugh Raichlin sits on the panel. Thus far the organisation says it has discovered irrefutable evidence of BDS-SA and its CE Muhammed Desai together with students and university staffers at all levels having a hand in targeting, entrapping and removing a senior staffer who was against IAW.
BDS “encorages universities to fund IAW” -DESAI
Asked about how the IAW events would be affected if universities were not able to fund the events this year, Desai remained bullish that this would not be the case. “We encourage universities to fund this event,” said Desai.
But, he added, IAW and BDS has always relied on small donations by going door to door and house to house and they would do so again if required to. “The programmes are coming together pretty well, he said, adding that BDS had had not had any hiccups to date.
Desai told Jewish Report that the formal launch of the campaign would be on Thursday 6 February.
SA Lawyers for Israel (SALFI) says it has already discovered trails implicating several universities in the funding of IAW. To date, most of the transactions unearthed by their investigation, say LFI, “show that such expenditure has also not been reflected as what it actually is, but is getting lost in some other accounting line item in order to obscure its true nature,” In other words, transactions are not reflected as an extraordinary expense – and that in terms of public policy, “many or most of these ‘subsidies’ could be construed as irregular,” says the organisation.
“Deceitfulness crosses the line” – Professor Rosenberg
“Such cases of deceitfulness would clearly have crossed the line of good corporate governance,” says a letter the organisation has sent to Vice Chancellors and Chairs of Councils at all SA universities where transgressions have been identified, warning the institutions ahead of IAW 2014 next month.
Those behind the investigation and the investigators on the ground are still active on numerous campuses around the country and for security reasons have asked that their names not be disclosed at this stage.
What they have found to date, says SALFI, reveals that such support for IAW is widespread and is normally authorised and recorded as if it were in the normal course of a department’s business affairs and reflected in manners such as:
• Air fares for speakers and dignitaries;
• Hiring of outside venues and/or tents;
• Free use of institutional resources such as chairs, tables, cleaning services and the like;
• Providing food and accommodation for participants and visitors;
• Advertising and printing of pamphlets, posters and literature;
• Use of institutional offices and officers; and
• Use of institutional resources, including telephones, vehicles, manpower, etc.
“This information is being brought to the attention of the highest authorities at universities,” said Mike Fisher, spokesman for SA Lawyers for Israel, “as politicised members of their institutions’ activities probably will not fall under their personal purview . “We hold tons of evidence and are quite happy to share it with any University authority that wants to rein in this illicit spending spree,” Fisher told SAJR Online this week. Fisher says that so far, it “seems that universities may be putting millions into IAW, without their accounting and accountable office-bearers even being aware of it. READ MORE ON THIS: www.sajr.co.za
The Jewish Report spoke to the Wits communications department who referred the call to Vice-Chancellor Professor Adam Habib’s office. A message was not returned by the time of going to print. Similarly, Rhodes’ communications department referred Jewish Report to Ms Susan Smailes and an urgent message was left for her, too, Wednesday morning – also to no avail. UJ were not answering their switchboards.
LATEST: Ms Smailes did return SAJR’s call, but after the newspaper had gone to print. She was most helpful but said that she did not know if SALFI had contacted Rhodes. Ms Smailes said she could not comment as the matter was outside of her scope of activity. The Vice-Chancellor, she said, was in New York and would only be returning for one day before taking a long leave. She could not say who would deal with the matter in Dr Badat’s absence.
SAJR Online will continue to attempt to contact universities and update the story on this website. For further reading on this matter, see:
WIZO celebrates achievements and new beginnings
Rosh Hashanah has brought new beginnings for all of us and the hope that the special connections and support of family, friends, and community, will continue when the threat of COVID-19 is a distant memory.
Over the past few months, WIZO (the Women’s International Zionist Organisation) has been constantly in the news in Israel. Fighting for women’s rights, maintaining excellence in WIZO schools, and being recognised by the Israeli government for the network of philanthropic projects that stretch the length and breadth of Israel are only some of the milestones that make us such proud members of this international organisation.
WIZO Israel proudly promoted the Bill for Equal Rights and Pay for Women and Men in the Workplace passed in the Knesset on 24 August 2020. As women’s rights activists, WIZO works tirelessly to promote gender equality on all fronts. Women’s empowerment is one of the founding principles of the organisation since its inception in 1920. Lobbying against domestic violence is ongoing, and WIZO provides safe-houses, training, and work opportunities for women forced to flee their homes, often with small children in tow. As leaders against gender-based violence, WIZO also offers a helpline and counselling for the perpetrators of abuse, and the lines are busy day and night.
Esther Mor, World WIZO president, was one of four women in Israel to receive the Eshet Lapidot Award for philanthropy on behalf of WIZO. Mor was also invited to the signing of the Abraham Accords at the White House in Washington DC last week. What an honour for her and for WIZO, demonstrating the esteem with which the organisation is held not only in Israel but around the world!
The day before Rosh Hashanah, the chairperson of World WIZO’s early age department visited Neve WIZO (WIZO South Africa’s jewel-in-the-crown project), accompanied by Avi Mottola, Israel’s deputy director general of the ministry of welfare. Each of its five cottages had exquisitely laid yom tov tables, and the children at each home shared warm and tender stories of their lives before and after coming to live at Neve WIZO. In one of the houses, Mottola met Hila, a soldier in the Patriot Regiment who came to celebrate at the home. Mottola was moved to tears, and at the end of the visit he said, “I couldn’t have started the year in a more significant place than Neve WIZO”.
On the home front, WIZO has hosted a number of informative webinars, WIZO societies have committed themselves to outreach projects in the Western Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng, and WIZO’s Wheelchairs of Hope have been donated to needy children around the country.
The WIZO Elise Gift Shop is officially online, with a stunning range of hand-picked homeware, baby gifts and more at significantly reduced prices. Shop.wizo.co.za
Finally, please save the date for WIZO South Africa’s conference on 22 November 2020, with guest speaker Trudy Gold, renowned British historian and Holocaust educator, and the former chief executive of the London Jewish Cultural Centre.
May we all be inscribed in the book of life, and a gmar chatima tova.
WIZO celebrates women every day
World WIZO (the Women’s International Zionist Organisation) celebrated its official centenary on 11 July 2020. There were greetings and celebratory messages from the 50 WIZO federations around the world, including ours. Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu and Israeli President Reuven Rivlin sent personal video messages of congratulation to the organisation and all its federations, acknowledging them for the critical role they play in uplifting Israel, and paying homage to WIZO’s incredible longevity.
WIZO founders Rebecca Sieff, Edith Elder, and Vera Weitzman recognised an urgent need to uplift women and children in the early days of Palestine who were living in dire circumstances. In 1920, they formed the Women’s International Zionist Organisation to establish education and social-welfare infrastructure in Palestine.
Through the years, WIZO has stepped in to do what the government can’t do itself. In the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s, WIZO helped to integrate new immigrants to Israel. In the 1970s and 1980s, WIZO created the first shelters for women and children suffering from domestic violence. WIZO was a pioneer in this area, setting up many programmes, and uses a holistic approach which takes care of victims and abusers.
In the present time of COVID-19, WIZO was a first responder in opening up emergency shelters for women at risk due to the confined spaces in which they have been forced to live with perpetrators of violence and abuse. WIZO also made sure that its day care centres were fully operational at hospitals for the medical teams on the frontline fighting the pandemic in Israel. WIZO continues to lobby the Knesset for the advancement and empowerment of women and children in all spheres of society in Israel.
We are proud to be active participants in this worldwide movement of women dedicated to strengthening the fabric of Israeli society, especially now when health, work, schooling, finances, and food are everyday concerns.
We are proud to support issues affecting women and children in South Africa. From our Wheelchairs of Hope initiative (light-weight, brightly coloured, wheelchairs, from Israel, designed specifically for children, giving them the dignity of mobility), to joining local non-governmental organisations in collecting blankets, toys, hygiene packs for rape victims, and more whenever we have been called on to offer support.
As Women’s Day approaches, we are aware of the desperation facing women and children who suffer abuse in this country, and we stand with all women – those who struggled under the harsh laws of apartheid, those who became struggle heroes, those who set out to help others even though they had so little themselves, and those who still face hardships.
We salute the generosity of women in South Africa, the spirit to move forward, the ubuntu.
May we continue to be proud volunteers, raising awareness, giving support, and empowering society’s most vulnerable citizens here and in Israel.
“It does indeed take a village to raise the child, but it takes a global sisterhood to build the Israeli nation.”
SAJBD puts in sterling work on Hate Crimes Bill
The South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) has sent its submission on the “Prevention and Combating of Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill” to the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development for consideration.
The much-awaited Bill aims to give effect to South Africa’s obligations, in terms of both the country’s Constitutional and international human rights instruments, concerning racism and discrimination; to provide for the offence of hate crimes and hate speech; as well as the prosecution and prevention of these crimes.
The SAJBD, as the umbrella representative body and human rights voice of the South African Jewish community, has been involved in hate crimes awareness, education and legislation advocacy for nearly a decade. Through its role as a founding and current steering committee member of the Hate Crimes Working Group, as well as participating in other important civil society initiatives, the SAJBD continues to be deeply committed to ensuring that issues relating to hate crimes and hate speech are adequately addressed in the country.
The SAJBD’s submission on the Bill focused on a significant concern of the local Jewish community, namely that of anti-Semitism, and outlined the need for hate crimes legislation in the country as well as effective monitoring and data collection of cases of hate.
On the issue of hate speech, it was felt that the relevant sections of the Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act (No 4, 2000, hereafter “Equality Act”) were sufficiently far-reaching for purposes of addressing cases of hate speech.
Rather than having two very similar laws on the statute books, it was therefore strongly recommended that the anti-hate speech sections of the Hate Crimes Bill be removed and that instead the relevant sections of the Equality Act be revisited with a view to their possible amendment.
This might entail making the propagation of hate speech on the basis of race, ethnicity and other prohibited grounds an offence not only when it is directed against an individual, but against the particular group which is being thus maligned.
The SAJBD’s submission stresses that the Act must be so framed as to make its practical implementation possible, and to this end recommends bolstering and expanding the reach and effectiveness of current legislation and mechanisms dealing with incidents of hate, such as the SA Human Rights Commission and Equality Courts.
The issue of restorative justice, to both educate against and prevent hate speech and hate crimes, as well as a method of dealing with perpetrators after an incident has taken place, was also emphasised.
“History has shown us where hate leads,” says the SAJBD’s representative on the Hate Crimes Working Group, Alana Baranov. “Genocide and crimes against humanity do not begin with action but with words and incidences of discrimination. South Africans need to work together to ensure that our country is one in which human rights, freedom and equality are afforded to all who live in it.”
The SAJBD looks forward to working with the Department of Justice on the draft Bill going forward, as well as any on other initiatives aimed at preventing and combating hate in South African society.
* For more information, contact Alana Baranov on 083-275-2184.
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