Making sure this will not happen again

  • 2a-Mary Kluk tightcrop
South Africans across the spectrum have been appalled by the horrendous waves of xenophobic violence that have erupted in various parts of the country. The fact that the victims have been targeted solely on account of their foreign nationality, has added an especially dismaying dimension to the unrest.
by MARY KLUK | Apr 22, 2015

This, after all, is South Africa, a country that once inspired the world by breaking decisively with its racially discriminatory past to forge a society that upheld the fundamental right to dignity and equality of all its members, regardless of race, ethnicity, nationality or creed.

The events of the past few weeks have shown how quickly things can fall apart when hatred and mistrust of “the Other” is allowed to spread unchecked.

The xenophobia crisis ironically coincided with the week in which South African Jewry was commemorating its own history of persecution at Yom Hashoah ceremonies around the country.

In our communications with the media, we made a point of applying the lessons of the Shoah to what was happening, warning that even as we were remembering occurred to the Jewish people in the past, we were in danger of recreating the same horrific scenario on our own doorstep.

My own city, Durban, has been especially hard-hit by the unrest. I am proud at the way the local Jewish community, as it did during the last major xenophobia crisis back in 2008, has come forward in numbers to assist the victims.

Relief efforts are being spearheaded by the SAJBD’s KZN branch, the Council for KwaZulu-Natal Jewry, under the dedicated leadership of President Ronnie Herr and Vice-President Alana Baranov.

In Johannesburg, the Board this week likewise elicited the assistance of the Jewish community, and the response has been immediate and generous. I commend and thank all those who have responded.

In the short term, addressing the urgent humanitarian needs of those left homeless and destitute has to be given priority. The real challenge, however, has to be finding ways to eradicate the kind of hatred that led to their being victimised in the first place.

Much of the responsibility for this falls on government, but the various faith communities and civil society also have a crucial role to play. In this regard, the Board is working closely with bodies like the Hate Crimes Working Group, Peace Action and refugee social services.

As I write, representatives of our Cape Council are participating in a silent vigil aimed at welding together a broad-based cross-cultural partnership working together in confronting the root causes of the xenophobia scourge.

* Those wishing to contribute to the Board’s xenophobia relief efforts in Gauteng and/or Durban, can obtain the requisite details, including the kind of items required, from the SAJBD Facebook (

In Johannesburg, items can be dropped off at Beyachad, 2 Elray Street, Raedene. c/o SAJBD and in Durban at the Durban Jewish Centre (attention: Roseanne).Alternatively, if you would like us to purchase the necessary items on your behalf, donations can be made to: CKNJ, Standard Bank - Kingsmead, Branch Code 040026, Account Number 051438801, Ref: Your name/ xenophobia.

Please e-mail confirmation to [email protected] Should you prefer the necessary items to be purchased on your behalf, donations can be made to: (Johannesburg) South African Jewish Board of Deputies, Standard Bank Killarney Acc No 200305190, Ref: Relief +your initial and surname; (Durban): CKNJ, Standard Bank - Kingsmead, Branch Code 040026, Acc  No 051438801, Ref: Your name/ xenophobia. Please e-mail confirmation to [email protected]


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