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The Jewish Report Editorial

SA govt’s deathly silence so telling

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There are some people out there who believe the Jewish community is paranoid and sees antisemitism in everything. There was a time when even I thought we were a tad too sensitive, but I certainly don’t anymore.

It could be that in my position as editor of this newspaper, I see a lot more than I ever wanted to of people who really don’t like us.

I also see way too many of those same people claiming that they are human rights activists and that it’s not about us, as Jews, but a certain tiny country in the Middle East that’s smaller than the Kruger National Park. However, it just so happens that that particular country is the Jewish State and, according to the Bible, it is the land G-d gave to us. This was reiterated by the United Nations in 1948.

The point is, it’s difficult to separate hatred for a Jewish State and hatred for Jews. It is as it is.

On Sunday morning, there was a terrorist attack metres from the Kotel, our most holy place in the world. A young man, who happened to be a South African oleh, was happily heading to the Kotel where he works as a tour guide. He didn’t go there as a soldier. He didn’t go there with any negative intentions. It was a normal work day for him, and he loved what he did for a living and the city and country he chose to live in.

He was an observant Jew who was passionate about life.

This young man, Eli Kay, was brutally gunned down by a terrorist who tried to kill as many people as he could at one time. This terrorist is believed to have made plans for his wife beforehand, ensuring that the Israeli police couldn’t arrest or harass her after he committed this terrible deed.

He didn’t know Eli, nor did he care who he was or what he was doing there. He just wanted to kill Jews, and so he did. The others who were shot survived, but Eli – who was planning his engagement – didn’t.

Now, though certain media in this country put inverted commas around “terrorist attack” as it is in question when writing about Eli’s murder, this could be nothing other than a terrorist attack. Eli wasn’t shot for his money or anything that he was carrying. He and the terrorist didn’t know each other, nor did they communicate. The terrorist simply opened fire at Jews, and Eli was in his line of fire.

But you see, if you question whether it’s a terrorist attack, you underplay the horror of what happened. And, in doing so, you make it sound like we are exaggerating, or accusing an innocent person of doing something terrible.

In fact, there are media and anti-Israel lobby groups who claimed that Eli was a soldier and that there had been an exchange of fire. This is an out and out lie. Yes, Eli had served in the Israeli army, but was no longer a soldier. He was just a young man doing his job as a tour guide. I’m sure this chosen career couldn’t have been so easy in the past two years, considering the impact of COVID-19. And he was probably so chuffed to have work after a dry spell during the worst of the pandemic.

Again, by calling him a soldier rather than a tour guide or an average civilian, it implies that he was at war or ready for battle, which again, is a lie. He wasn’t anything of the sort, just a really great guy going off to work in a place he loved.

Other media called Eli a “settler”, which is also a loaded term, implying that he was living on land that was forcibly taken from Palestinians. Again, this is a total lie. He lived in Modi’in – between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem – with his family.

Why oh why is it necessary to fake the truth? Why must the truth be skewed to undermine what happened to a South African man who grew up right here in Johannesburg? What on earth did he do to anyone that makes them want to undermine the horrific way he died? Help me here! I don’t get it.

Unless it’s simply about the fact that this young man was a proud Jew and a Zionist, and that, to certain people, is unacceptable.

Perhaps that’s why our own government has up to now said absolutely nothing about Eli’s death at the hands of a terrorist.

Isn’t it amazing how our country’s leaders are so quick off the mark to commiserate with all sorts of people who may have been hurt, maimed, or attacked around the world.

However, in this case, Eli was born here and grew up here. He was educated here. He has family here, and a community who loved him dearly. He even spoke with a South African accent.

But the deathly silence from our government is so telling and so ugly!

What are our leaders thinking that they cannot even send a message to the Kay family? Why has nobody gone to visit the family? What’s wrong with our leaders that they can treat their own fellow South Africans in this way?

My disappointment is immeasurable.

Our community is part of South Africa. We are South Africans. We have our own religion, which we are fully entitled to practice according to the South African Constitution, but we are participating citizens. In fact, our participation in this country is far more than just noticeable.

These same people who want to see Eli as someone bad know that he wasn’t. They want to justify how they feel about us.

You see, this can’t be about a terrible Israel that has done something to the poor Palestinians. It can’t. It was about young Jewish man who was mowed down in the prime of his life by a terrorist who simply wanted to kill our kind.

The reality is this incident cannot be seen as anything other than that, unless fake information is added to create a political football to be used against us.

It makes me mad and sad that our government hasn’t done the right thing. It makes me sad that they haven’t deigned to pay their respects to this South African family and made a statement condemning what was done to a young South African man. When is our government going to see the truth about the situation? What will it take, if not the death of one of our own?

Chag sameach and Shabbat Shalom.

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