Lenk tweeted to warm welcome

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Israel-Palestinian topic very much a hot button issue "with a unique local flavour" writes Ambassador Lenk. Read some of the tweets he is getting.
by ANT KATZ | Jul 15, 2014

Israeli Ambassador to South Africa Arthur Lenk posted on the DAILY MAVERICK on Monday about the slew of disgusting tweets he has been receiving from ordinary South Africans – some of them are downright disgusting!

“After nearly a year here in South Africa,” writes the ambassador, “it has become abundantly clear to me that for a certain constituency, the Israel-Palestinian topic is very much a hot button issue, with a unique local flavour.

Tweet #1“Whether it is my Jewish brothers and sisters, the country’s Muslim minority, some politicians or certain Christian groups, there are many who follow issues in my region with great emotion and concern.

I am not sure that this is true about most people here, but for this small but diverse group, every step taken between Israelis and Palestinians has meaning and impact for them here in SA.

Duarte Jessie viewpointAnd nowhere is this clearer, especially since the recent events in my region have flared up, than in my Twitter engagement.

“I am not a major player, by any means, in the Twitterverse, with only just over 1 000 followers.

Nevertheless, I am “out there”, and like a few of my colleagues in the diplomatic community, am happy to engage with anyone who is reasonably polite.

For the most part, I try to talk about “other things” about Israel – agriculture, hi-tech, innovation, culture – in other words, engage “beyond the conflict”.

“But in the last month and significantly in recent days, social media in South Africa (and many places around the world) has become a veritable battleground regarding the conflict between Israel and Hamas.

Ahmed Kathrada FoundationPeople with all views are tweeting to me: many are reasonable, some are aggressive and some are shockingly and bluntly violent about what they think about Jews and Israel.

“The willingness to use Holocaust imagery and comparisons is frightening in what it says about the senders of these messages,” writes the ambassador.

But, he says, “for the most part, it is a worthwhile exchange of ideas. For me, too, it has been an opportunity to put forward Israel’s view of why we need to defend ourselves.”

Ambassador Lenk proceeds to illustrate multiple examples and describes his feelings towards the authors.

SAJR Online has posted a few examples – but users can read it all on the DAILY MAVERICK.


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