The Jewish Report Editorial

The never-ending road to freedom

  • Vanessa
Exploring the concepts of freedom and Pesach, are already well travelled roads, so our cover this week tries to examine them with novelty and relevance. We hope our readers enjoy and recognise the symbolism of renowned graffiti artist and political commentator Banksy’s black figure who is seen bashing his way through a matzah to the freedom of the Promised Land.
by VANESSA VALKIN | Apr 13, 2016

The #PharaohMustFall slogan evokes our own nation’s difficult journey to freedom both in the past and the ongoing fight to remove what are considered vestiges of colonialist oppression today.

In his book "Why Be Jewish: A Testament", the late philanthropist Edgar M Bronfman, formerly chief executive of the Seagram beverage company and president of the World Jewish Congress, writes about the warm memories of his grandmother’s charoset and his love for the festival of Passover.

 In celebrating Passover, he says we are fulfilling our requirement to Remember this day, on which you went free from Egypt, the house of bondage, how the Lord freed you from it with a mighty hand.” (Exodus 13:3)

But he also comments on the emphasis placed on repeating the story of the Jewish liberation every year and to each generation. “The Exodus from Egypt is not to be seen as a one-time historical occurrence with a beginning and an end: oppression, struggle, victory,” he adds. “It is not only those slaves, but all slaves, that concern us; not only that struggle, but all struggles.”

Therein is an important message for Jewry about continuing to fight the good fight even though we as a people have the freedom, more than ever before, to practise our religion and create powerful and prosperous lives.

The injunction which emanates from the scriptures of Exodus is that despite the fact that we are no longer wandering in the desert, we still need to be vigilant about protecting our freedoms. We confront growing anti-Semitism, particularly in Europe, and a harsh focus by the world on Israel’s actions in the West Bank and against its Palestinian citizens.

The other message is that we have a responsibility to protect the less advantaged who live alongside us who are shackled by poverty and lack of education.

We will be celebrating Freedom Day in less than two weeks. When we reflect on the South African journey of 22 years since the first democratic election, we can be satisfied that we have come a remarkably long way.

All South Africans can vote, and our Constitution containing the Bill of Rights is considered one of the most sophisticated in the world. Apart from free and fair elections, and laws protecting our rights and freedoms, we also have an independent judiciary, freedom of the press and other important civil liberties. The eventual decision taken against President Jacob Zuma over his household’s expenditure is a good illustration that these systems work.

But this country still suffers from huge inequities, a poor educational system, a government with questionable ethics, massive unemployment and distrust between the races. There is still a long road ahead and our work is perpetual.

As Bronfman says: “Each generation must learn anew how to overcome the wrongs of the world; the job will never be done. Children will not be born into a perfect world created for them by their parents. They can only continue to hold the torch, and their parents’ role is to teach them how to carry on the fight for justice.”


1 Comment

  1. 1 yitzchak 15 Apr
    Who are these alleged Palestinian citizens of Israel.doll?
    All I know them as,are as Israeli Arabs.
    Don't swallow their semantic propaganda!
    We only have freedom(Herut) in our land.


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