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SA leaders tell Israel to be wary of BDS

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In what has become an annual pilgrimage for South African Jewish communal leaders, representatives from the SA Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD), the SA Zionist Federation (SAZF) and the Israel United Appeal - United Communal Fund, went to Israel to meet with Israeli government representatives from the foreign ministry and the ministry of strategic affairs last week.
by VANESSA VALKIN | Jul 15, 2015

The South African contingent, which included SAJBD Chairman Jeff Katz, President Zev Krengel, SAZF Chairman Ben Swartz, and IUA-UCF Director Naomi Hadar, see the creation and maintenance of good relationships with Israeli government officials as a vital aspect of their roles.

The SAJBD and SAZF leaders said one of their most interesting meetings was with Minister of Public Security, Strategic Affairs and Minister of Information Gilad Erdan, who was recently tasked by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with developing a strategy to fight Boycott Divestment and Sanctions. Israel is allocating 100 million shekels to Erdan’s department for this purpose.

“Israel is starting to get it and to realise that their enemies are throughout the world,” says Krengel who believes that Israel is now understanding that although the BDS movement in and of itself might be about supporting the rights of Palestinians, the reality is that the majority of supporters of BDS are fighting for the destruction of Israel.

Krengel said he made the point in their meetings with Erdan that under apartheid, “no-one wanted the whites out of South Africa, but with BDS, they want the Jews out of that region of the Middle East”.

The SAZF’s Swartz said the South African lay leaders told Erdan about their experience combating local efforts to delegitimise Israel since the World Conference against Racism in Durban in 2001.

“We have been at the coalface for well over a decade and we’ve been dealing with it very successfully, so we have a lot to share.”

Swartz said they explained that the South African Jewish community leadership had taken an approach of trying to show South Africans the value in building relationships with Israel and working with Israel - not against it.

The group also met with Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely, who was actually at the Durban Conference in 2001 when she was a student, as well as Zionist Union leaders Tzipi Livni and Isaac Herzog.


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