At present ‘it’s tough to be a Jew in South Africa’

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At a briefing for the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on International Relations and Co-operation (Dirco) last week Friday, the South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) told the gathering that the issue of anti-Israeli sentiment has unfortunately degenerated into anti-Semitism.
by OWN CORRESPONDENT | Nov 30, 2016

The presentation was made in response to a briefing in September by Jewish Voices for a Free Palestine, which the Board said was predictably distorted and unbalanced in its attacks both on Israel and the Jewish community. The Board said it was a “grossly selective account of how Palestinian homes were lost during the 1948 War of Independence, with South African Jewry being portrayed as the villains who established a forest over a destroyed Arab village.”

The Board’s presentation also came two days after the National Coalition for Palestine briefed the Committee on a petition it had sent two years ago, calling for disinvestment from Israel and the severing of all ties with that country.

The SAJBD delegation included President Mary Kluk and Parliamentary Liaison Chaya Singer, together with SA Zionist Federation Cape Chairman Rowan Polovin, SA Israel Forum Chairman Benji Shulman and SA Friends of Israel Director Jamie Mighty, all of whom made presentations talking directly to issues that had previously been made in the Committee. The Board addressed the Committee at the invitation of its chairman, Siphosezwe Masango.

Kluk told the Committee that it was tough for SA Jewry who are made to feel unwelcome in their own country.

“It has been more than 20 years since democracy but some organisations like BDS SA (Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions South Africa) are intolerant of Jewish people. These protests are issues that are supposed to be about Israel. There are some Jews who associate themselves with the message of the BDS movement. We welcome their opinions, but calling for Jews to be fired from universities and be killed, is not tolerance,” she said.

The delegation challenged and refuted assertions that had been presented to the committee in previous weeks by certain anti-Israel lobby groups.

Kluk, raised concerns that anti-Israel sentiment in the country frequently degenerates into hatred of South African Jews, citing several examples of anti-Israel campaigns that resulted in blatant anti-Semitism. “Fostering hatred and division among fellow South Africans is harmful to our society and does nothing whatsoever to bring an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement closer,” she said. 

The SAJBD delegation said that the punitive actions that had been presented previously by anti-Israel lobby groups to the Committee would serve only to further drive a wedge between the two parties. “It would also undermine the good work currently being undertaken by our government through Dirco and the President’s envoys to the region.”

The Board commended the South African government’s steadfast support for a two-state solution and reiterated the unique role that the country can play in facilitating a resolution to this complex conflict between the Palestinians and the Israelis.

This was reiterated by the chairman and members of the Committee. The delegation also commended the government’s endeavours to encourage dialogue between the Palestinians and Israelis with the aim of reaching a negotiated two-state solution to the Middle East conflict.

The National Coalition for Palestine’s briefing on the Wednesday about the petition it had sent two years ago regarding “human rights abuses committed by Israel on Palestine” was raised. Another representative from the Board said Israel is a place of refuge for Jews around the world and that the Board supported a dialogue between Israel and Palestine.

“Israel has a right to exist alongside a future Palestine state. It will be a phenomenal privilege if Israel exported its technology on water to South Africa for, example,” he said.

Committee members wanted to know if there were steps being taken by the Board to promote the two-state solution. They also wondered about the possibility of applying South Africa’s approach of dialogue until solutions are found.

Committee Chairman Masango said it did not seem that the Board and the pro-Palestinian organisations have “a common advice” that they could provide.

“Whatever position one takes on the matter, it will always be viewed with suspicion. Palestine and Israel must settle the land question in a manner that would be satisfactory to both sides. As long as the land question is not settled, it will always give rise to extremism,” Masango posited.

He wanted to know if the Board had ever been approached by BDS or the National Council for Palestine for discussions as South Africans.

“It could possibly be ideal if one could facilitate a discussion among the stakeholders in one room, and then we could check if there are areas where there is common ground. The two-state solution everybody agrees with,” Masango said.

Kluk clarified that the Board stood on no-one’s side in the conflict but on the side of peace, and that how it is developing is creating friction among South Africans and that will not bring a solution.

“The history of South Africa gives its envoys to the Middle East a unique opportunity no-one in the Free World has. We are working closely with the envoys. It is not our role to come with solutions; we do not have solutions but we do support the facilitation processes,” she said.


  1. 2 nat cheiman 30 Nov
    Words and breath are wasted on any endeavours to get the ANC to accept or like Israel. They have as their friends and role models the following: Iran; N.Korea; Cuba ( Castro is  a hero); Syria; Turkey; Sudan ( Al Bashir).
    Israels water tech is not required in SA by government, nor BDS. Even the ratings agencies like Fitch and Moody's are instruments of imperialism.SA want to adopt decolonisation and get rid of white capital ( whatever those 2 mean).
    Lastly, the mindset and standard of enlightenment of government is so lacking as to be fictitious.
    It is easy to be a Jew in SA. We are able to live a good life and out think the bird brain types that are ill disposed towards us.  
  2. 1 OneThought 21 Dec
    A cause of hatred of Jews is love of murder. The more South Africa loves murder, the less pleasant life will be for Jews in South Africa. Unfortunately, it appears that South Africa is increasingly in love with violent ends to human life.


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