Subscribe to our Newsletter

click to dowload our latest edition



The Lamola deception

Avatar photo



The South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) has continued to be active on the media front in response to persistent denials by Justice Minister Ronald Lamola that there has been a rise in antisemitic activity in South Africa over the past several months. In spite of being provided with chapter-and-verse evidence of attacks on our community ranging from hate mail, verbal abuse, and vandalism to serious cases of physical assault, the minister has insisted that this isn’t the case, describing it during an interview on Radio 702 as “a nonsense”.

Another galling aspect of how Lamola has chosen to respond to the Board’s criticism is to blatantly misrepresent what we have been saying. This has included implying that we are laying the blame for these attacks at the door of his own government; are attempting to depict the country as a whole as being a hotbed of antisemitism; and – as has by now become almost a standard response – to accuse the Board of conflating antisemitism with criticism of Israel. As even a cursory reading of the statements we have made on the issue will show, there isn’t the slightest basis to any of these charges. This in turn suggests that Lamola hasn’t even bothered to acquaint himself with what the SAJBD, the elected representative voice of the Jewish community, has to say on the subject.

Aside from making light of the legitimate concerns we have about the steep escalation in attacks on our community, Lamola’s comments have had the effect – quite possibly intended – of portraying those mandated to speak for South African Jewry as being untrustworthy, if not outright dishonest. Coming from any member of government, this would be a serious concern, but it’s truly unconscionable when emanating from someone entrusted with upholding the rights of all citizens to safety, dignity, and equality. It therefore was clear to us that limiting our responses to the media sphere wouldn’t suffice on this occasion and that an additional, boots-on-the-ground demonstration was necessary. On Monday, 12 February, therefore, an SAJBD delegation comprising representatives from our national, Gauteng, and Pretoria councils held a picket outside the offices of the justice ministry in Pretoria. At the same time, a memorandum was presented to representatives of the minister’s office, in which the Board again provided details of how antisemitism rates had spiked and called on Lamola to take antisemitism as seriously as all other forms of hate in our country were being taken, including racism, homophobia, xenophobia, and Islamophobia. The event was widely covered by the media, conveying our community’s categorical rejection of the minister’s misrepresentations and ensuring for posterity that they weren’t being allowed to go unchallenged.

Jewish Affairs latest issue

The journal Jewish Affairs has been brought out under the auspices of the SAJBD since 1941, and it has long been regarded as this country’s leading Jewish historical, cultural, and current affairs magazine. This week, a bulletin was sent to subscribers announcing the appearance of the latest issue of the journal, with a description of its contents and links to individual articles.

The latest issue as well as all articles going back to 2009 can be accessed free of charge at I encourage those interested in Jewish issues, in particular the story of our own remarkable community, to avail themselves of this rich and unique resource.

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

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *