Peres draws top MPs among crowd of 1500

  • Peres
The excitement and anticipation in the air were palpable as 1 500 people converged on the Sandton Convention Centre to hear statesman extraordinaire and Nobel laureate Shimon Peres address the community at the launch of the IUA-UCF campaign.
by SUZANNE BELLING | Mar 02, 2016

Photographer: Ilan Ossendryver

Top leaders joined the audience to pay tribute to the former president and prime minister of the State of Israel. They included members of parliament, among them ACDP leader Kenneth Meshoe, Cope leader Mosiuoa Lekota and IFP leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi.

Buthelezi, was one of the first black leaders to visit Israel in 1986 and to address the South African Jewish community at a banquet on his return, when he described Peres as “a man of peace”.

Among his visits to Israel was a special trip he made to attend Peres’ 80th birthday in 2003. “He is a good friend,” Buthelezi told SA Jewish Report.

Diana Davids, who hails from India, was an enthusiastic guest. “I have worked as a chef for the Embassy of Israel for a very long time, first for the Consul-General in Mumbai, then in Qatar, where I worked for Dov Steinberg until the embassy closed its doors and I now work for Arthur Lenk in Pretoria.”

A fan of Shimon Peres, she was very taken with the man and the IUA-UCF launch.

Marc Lubner, CEO of Afrika Tikkun and chairman of the SA-Israel Foundation, truly wants to see good relations between South Africa and Israel. “I implore all parties to put efforts into finding a course that could bring South Africa and Israel together.”

He says he is opposed to any efforts that are not spent on finding resolution. “I believe there is so much positive coming out of Israel.” This should be concentrated on rather than Israel being “trashed and ignored”.

The 92-year-old Peres drew many spontaneous rounds of applause, as well as a standing ovation from the appreciative audience. His address took the form of an interview by South African-born television personality Paula Slier, who began her career on the SA Jewish Report and local Jewish television programmes.

Peres was introduced by Israel’s Ambassador to South Africa Arthur Lenk.

Entertainment with an Israeli-South African flavour was provided by the Amakhono we Sintu choir, vocalists Debbie Fleminger-Mizrachi, Dewald von Solms and violinist Waldo Alexander.

Not even the small demonstration by Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) supporters on the corner of 5th Street in Sandton, some 200 metres from the venue, could detract from this well-organised and novel evening.

“The demonstration is illegal,” a police spokesman told SA Jewish Report, even though the small group comprised only about 15 people. Many of the guests in the Convention Centre were not even aware of the anti-Peres demonstration outside.

“War on Civilians - Man of Peace?”, “Nuclear Programme - Blood on your Hands”, read some of the posters.

“It’s not okay. We know Peres is not right wing, but he collaborated with South Africa’s apartheid government. He has blood on his hands and should be arrested,” said Merlynn Edelstein, one of the protesters.

But, when asked about the stabbings in Israel, she admitted they were “horrifying”.

When told they would not have the cell phones they were carrying were it not for Israel’s technology, Edelstein said their argument was not with the manufacturers of cell phones, but with the government of Israel.

“The small number of demonstrators shows that there is really no substance to what they are proclaiming. They could hardly muster any support,” said Rabbi Dorron Kline, CEO of Telfed, who was on a visit from Israel.

Shaun Zagnoev, chairman of the Gauteng Council of the SA Jewish Board of Deputies, said Peres “is a man who represents both the history and the future of Israel. The right mind-set is required to ultimately achieve a peaceful solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“This is a sharp distinction to the short-sighted and limited perspective of the BDS demonstrations,” he said.

 “What demonstration?” asked Daniel Wolovitz, having the last word.

Happy to be a participant in the IUA-UCF launch, Wolovitz commented that Peres was making “such an effort” in extending his diplomatic ties (with South Africa).


  1. 3 nat cheiman 02 Mar
    Edelstein should be ashamed . She is a traitor and BDS is a repugnant odious and scandalous organisation that has failed because of its hatred toward Israel. 
  2. 2 Mlungiseleli 05 Mar
    i dont blame the anti israel brigade. i was also brain washed until i was saved and my spiritual eyes were opened because if one can take the Jews out of the holy Bible, then christianity will be hollow. we are spiritually intertwined with the Jews as Christ followers to pretend otherwise is a delusion. lastly the state of Israel has a duty to protect its citizens from terror to do otherwise will be a serious dereliction of duty.
  3. 1 Gary 09 Mar
    Shimon Perers' toenail is worth a million vile evil traitors like Merlynn Edelstein


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