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The Jewish Report Editorial

We don’t go out the back door

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Jewish people in South Africa have nothing to hide, and we certainly don’t have to be shamed into going out the back door.
by PETA KROST MAUNDER | Jun 07, 2018

Last Thursday evening, the Israeli Embassy and the South African Friends of Israel launched their #YallaYebo photo exhibition. It showcases photographs taken by South African Instagrammers in Israel and Israelis visiting here (See page 14). It is a great way of showcasing the beauty, idiosyncrasies, subtleties, and oddities of both countries through the eyes of foreigners.

Going there, people felt safe. Why wouldn’t they? It was at the Rosebank Mall, which for many of us is like our own backyard.

However, there were a group of about 20 anti-Israel protesters outside the exhibition who were harassing and haranguing patrons arriving for the launch. They were rude, shouting, and vomiting snide and ugly things at those wanting to get in. And they were showing off the Hezbollah flag with blood (red paint) on it. If the shouting and threatening comments weren’t enough, the Hezbollah flag hit a horrible note because this terror organisation makes no bones about its determination to destroy the State of Israel. No two-state solution for it, nor any kind of peace treaty.

Once inside, the patrons were well protected and could ignore what was happening on the other side of the bullet-proof glass. And the event went on.

However, those who arrived once the situation had become heated were either taken inside through the back door or were turned away. And when the event was over, people were escorted out through the tradesmen’s entrance, across the rubbish bins and all the items that are usually hidden from patrons, customers, and dignitaries.

It was not a pretty sight, according to those who went out the back door.

My question is: What are we doing going out the back door? What message are we giving to the protesters and the world by doing that?

I can see why this was done from a security perspective, and obviously, I would not like anyone to be harmed. I also understand that going out the front door would have meant the need for more security, and would have created a heightened risk of violence. My gut still says it is wrong.

We have nothing to hide or to be ashamed of, so we MUST go out the front door with our heads held high.

Jews in South Africa are not ashamed, nor do we have anything to be ashamed of. We don’t cower when there are protesters.

We cannot let anyone put us in a situation where we have to scarper out the back like common criminals.

As ugly as these protesters may have been towards patrons, we had right and the law on our side. They could not hurt us. The CSO and police were there to prevent anything happening, so why go out the back door?

We will not cower to people who oppose Jews in this country, whatever their reasoning. We cannot and must not give people that power over us.

As Jews, we need to stop being divisive. We need to stop fighting with each other over who supports what, and who is more kosher than the next. Yes, there are some of us who support the Israeli government 100%, and others who question what it does. There are some who keep Shabbos every week, and others who head for shul on Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and maybe on Shavuot.

There are some who support the DA, and others who are hard and fast ANC supporters. Our politics, social beliefs and views on Israel differ, but we are all Jews.

Frankly, it makes me mad when Jews attack Jews and ostracise them from the community because their views differ and don’t quite fit in with the conventional wisdom of the mainstream Orthodox community.

We are supposed to be a nation of questioning people. We know that every Jew has a different view to the Jew next to him. That is who we are. So why attack one another?

And why let those who oppose us have power over us by turning the other cheek and walking out the back door.

No, we must stand together and stand strong.

As a united force, we are invincible! As a community at odds with each other, we cannot win, and will all be going out the back door, because if you stand alone, you fall over. If you stand united, you are nobody’s pushover.

The research being done by Professors Shirli Gilbert and Deborah Posel on identity in our community (on pages 11 and 14), shows just how many of us see ourselves in the margins. It also shows how we still identify with similar issues and beliefs because – no matter what – we are a community. Let’s set aside our differences and stand together against those who want to see us fall.

Shabbat Shalom!

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