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SA Jewry’s interface with government

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JEFF KATZ

Four of the meetings that I was personally involved in were with Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe, former President Kgalema Motlanthe, ANC Secretary-General Gwede Mantashe and the president of the ANC Youth League, Collen Maine. Zev Krengel, who now holds the position of national vice-president on the SAJBD executive, met privately with President Jacob Zuma, Tokyo Sexwale and African Union Chairperson Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.

Being the interface between the Jewish community and government is a core part of the SAJBD’s mandate. While official letters, press statements and memoranda have their place, it is ultimately through face-to-face meetings that we are really able to convey what our community is feeling, what its needs are and, just as importantly, how it can assist in meeting the challenges that face our young democracy.

Our meeting with former President Motlanthe, for example, dwelt at some length on the subject of job creation. When addressing the Board’s 2011 national conference, President Motlanthe emphasised the contribution that Jews could make in this vital area.

This in turn inspired the Board’s so-called “Jubuntu” project, in which various Jewish-headed initiatives aimed at empowerment through skills and entrepreneurship training were identified and from which lessons were distilled on how those projects could be adopted on a broader basis.     

As one would expect, the Middle East always looms large in our discussions. Here there is broad agreement over the need for a peaceful, negotiated settlement to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and what in general terms such a settlement could look like.

Where we often have to agree to disagree, concerns were where the blame lies when that process fails to make progress; but at least by meeting and discussing the issues, it is possible to close the gaps between ourselves and find common ground.

President Zuma has been steadfast in his support for a negotiated two-state solution to the conflict and to South Africa’s playing whatever positive role it can to bring this about. We in turn have urged government to continue engaging in the region and pledged our support and assistance to that end.      

 

CSO prepares for holiday period

 

While December provides for most of us a much-needed break from our respective work routines, for the CSO, it is one of the busier periods of the year. It is at this time that provision must be made for securing the various end-of-year youth camps around the country, a major operation involving a significant proportion of the CSO’s professional staff and volunteer base.

I urge our community to please support the CSO as much as possible, ideally by becoming part of the organisation in a volunteer capacity, as well as by complying at all times with its guidelines in order to ensure the existence of effective security at all our communal installations and events.    

 

  •   Listen to Charisse Zeifert on Jewish Board Talk, 101.9 ChaiFM every Friday 12:00 – 13:00

 

 

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