Op-eds

COP relationship top of board’s agenda

  • AboveBoardShaunZagnoev (3)
The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organisations (COP) is the umbrella organisation of the 50 most important Jewish organisations in the United States. Since its establishment in 1955, it has been one of the most effective advocates of strengthening American support for the state of Israel including working towards furthering peace and stability in the Middle East.
by SHAUN ZAGNOEV | Feb 27, 2020

Over the past decade in particular, the South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) has been able to establish a close and mutually working beneficial relationship with the COP. Every year, a high-powered COP delegation visits a particular part of the world, meeting with senior political leadership and the local Jewish community. What gave the relationship special impetus was the visit of a 65-person COP delegation to southern Africa in February 2010. The board put together a packed week-long programme for the Gauteng and Cape Town legs of the visit, which included meetings with Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe, Democratic Alliance leader Helen Zille, and the African National Congress, and visits to the Constitutional Court, MaAfrika-Tikkun projects, and Soccer City (this occurring just before the FIFA World Cup).

Last year, SAJBD National Director Wendy Kahn accompanied the COP delegation on a visit to Kenya and Uganda, which included meetings with Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni and Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda. Wendy also gave a presentation on the South African situation to COP.

Last week, COP sent a delegation to Saudi Arabia, a ground breaking visit representing a major step forward in that country’s warming ties with Israel. Afterwards, the delegation visited Israel for a marathon of tours, discussions, and meetings with top Israeli leaders. Kahn was again invited to participate, and was one of the panellists discussing the response to the rise in global anti-Semitism.

In addition to the close relationship that the board has established with the COP, it also has a strong presence on the World Jewish Congress, and is involved in a host of other significant global Jewish-leadership initiatives. It’s an encouraging demonstration of how our relatively small community continues to punch well above its weight on the international Jewish stage, and at the same time forge valuable alliances that assist us in carrying out our primary mandate on behalf of South African Jewry.

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