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The Jewish Report Editorial

Use your vote wisely, but VOTE

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This coming Wednesday is election day, and the run up to this momentous day is confusing and frustrating for many of us. Just who do we vote for, and what impact will our vote have on our future in South Africa?
by PETA KROST MAUNDER | May 02, 2019

I certainly don’t have all the answers, nor am I about to tell you which way to vote. I don’t believe in that kind of journalism, and I do believe this is a hugely personal decision.

Despite this, I have had debates and discussion with friends. These focused on two things: whether voting for small parties is worthwhile, and whether it is wise to vote for the man and not the party. As heated as these discussions became, I still don’t have the answers.

So, as the newspaper for the South African Jewish community, we did the only thing we could to help: we asked the parties the questions you would want answered. That way, we hoped, you will have a few arrows in your decision-making quiver.

When trying to contact the leaders of the parties, the Democratic Alliance was the first to respond. Its leader, Mmusi Maimane, was eager to meet us and he did so before Pesach, which is why we ran the interview with him in our Pesach edition. We also had a very easy time getting hold of the African Christian Democratic Party leader, our old friend Reverend Kenneth Meshoe, who is always kind and available to us. He is a real friend to our community and Israel. In parliament, he is ever ready to take on our fight, and that of the Jewish state.

Another old friend of the community, Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi, was also keen to respond to our questions. He, too, has strong bonds – that go way back – with us. I do hope these last after he retires following the elections.

We contacted the presidency to request an interview with Cyril Ramaphosa, and he agreed to respond to our questions.

We also approached Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema, Congress of the People leader Mosiuoa Lekota, and General Bantu Holomisa of the United Democratic Movement (UDM). We even spoke to the Freedom Front Plus.

Our intrepid team was hard at work, not taking “no” for an answer.

It was the responses we got that were eye opening, especially from the EFF.

The EFF, first and foremost, insists that it is happy to be supported by anyone, as long as they don’t support Israel. It goes on to intimate that Israelis are “against humanity”. The party claims that Israel is killing children and babies, and forcing Palestinians into the mountains without food or water. (See page 9.)

These lies floored me, but more than that, it astonishes me that someone in a position of power in a political party can espouse these and other horrific allegations as truth.

EFF elections spokesperson Veronica Mente went on to say that we needed to be open to paying better salaries… Clearly, we have the money! You know, all Jews are supposedly rich just like Shakespeare’s Shylock!

Somebody in our community needs to take this up and ensure that those in the EFF – who don’t have to like us or the Jewish state – know the facts about the Middle East. It’s simply unacceptable that the party can spew this hate, based on pure misinformation. This is exacerbated in the statement the party put out as an Easter greeting. (See page 5.)

However, even General Bantu Holomisa, the leader of the UDM, has an exaggerated view of Israel’s might. (See page 10.)

I can’t say I’m surprised that people have warped views about the Israeli-Palestinian situation. I, too, read all the ugly anti-Israel opinion pieces and fake news out there, both in the mainstream and on social media.

However, I believe it is incumbent on political leaders to do their own research and find out the facts before they spew hate speech to those who would do them no harm.

Even the perceptions about the South African Jewish community and Jews in general make for concerning reading in our articles on political parties.

The potential danger of these skewed views of Jews and Israel is so clearly evident in the second attack by a gunman on a shul in the United States. This time, almost six months to the day after the Pittsburgh attack, a 19-year-old opened fire in Chabad of Poway in San Diego. Senseless hate and divisiveness does not benefit anyone, neither does the verbal spread of hatred.

Our hearts go out to all those affected by this killing. I ask and pray that we use this as a lesson to bring people together, and not push people apart. Words hurt! Hatred kills! Enough!

More than anything, I ask that we all go into our polling booths with our consciences and – having read what the parties have to say – we vote.

No matter how confusing and frustrating the elections may seem, not voting is far worse. As the South African Jewish Board of Deputies is saying in its campaign, you can complain only if you have voted.

Use that vote, it is all you have in trying to improve this country for yourselves and all who live in it.

Shabbat Shalom!

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