Thanks and congratulations to Ambassador Arthur Lenk

  • Jeff
Last week, the Board together with the SAZF and IUA-UCF, hosted a farewell function for outgoing Israeli Ambassador Arthur Lenk. It was an opportunity to reflect on and pay tribute to Ambassador Lenk for all that he has achieved over the past four years.
by JEFF KATZ | Jul 20, 2017

For Israel’s envoys, South Africa is certainly one of the more challenging diplomatic postings. Historically, the ruling party has identified strongly with the Palestinian cause, while during the apartheid years the African National Congress was closely aligned with countries and movements overtly hostile towards the Jewish State, among them Libya, Cuba and the Soviet Union along with all its client states in Eastern and Central Europe.

In South Africa today, the heinous charge, aggressively advocated by vociferous and influential anti-Israel propagandists, is that of Israel being an apartheid state. Since our transition to democracy in 1994, Israel’s ambassadors have had to work hard to break down these negative preconceptions. Their job has been made even more difficult by the numerous failures in reviving the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, for which the blame is routinely and unfairly left exclusively at Israel’s door. 

Despite the negative publicity, there continues to be deep support for Israel in South Africa beyond the confines of the Jewish community. It is to Ambassador Lenk’s eternal credit that he was able to reach this largely silent constituency, in the process establishing many warm relationships and in general making the wider South African public aware of an Israel beyond the conflict, and the value, both actual and potential, of a continued strong South Africa-Israel relationship.

All this was achieved despite numerous and strenuous efforts by anti-Israel elements to block such initiatives.

Ambassador Lenk was always an eloquent defender of Israel, resolutely and fearlessly representing Israel in what more often than not was a deeply hostile environment. This was never more so than during the traumatic months of the 2014 Gaza conflict, in which he and then Deputy Ambassador Michael Freeman, seized every opportunity to speak out for Israel at a time when such voices were being all but drowned out.

 For all this and more, we thank and congratulate Ambassador  Lenk, and wish him only further success in his career as a representative of our beloved State of Israel. 


Jewish Affairs journal to commemorate three major anniversaries


The upcoming (Rosh Hashanah) issue of Jewish Affairs, a journal of Jewish thought, history and culture brought out by the SAJBD since 1941, will be focusing on three important milestones relating to the history of Zionism and the State of Israel.

Recently, we celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Six Day War and the liberation of Jerusalem.

Two further anniversaries being marked in 2017, are the centenary of the famous Balfour Declaration and the 70th year of the UN Partition Plan that gave international legitimacy to Israel’s formal establishment in May 1948.

The Rosh Hashanah issue will feature various articles, book reviews and photographic essays, devoted to these topics.

Anyone interested in contributing, whether in the form of personal memoirs or original essays, are invited to please get in touch with the editor, David Saks, on [email protected] Since 2009, Jewish Affairs has also been published online, and can be accessed at       


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