Subscribe to our Newsletter

click to dowload our latest edition


The Jewish Report Editorial

The tribe has spoken

Avatar photo



We’re all too quick to shrug our shoulders and say there’s nothing we can do when we’re unhappy about something. As South Africans, we even apologise when we haven’t even done anything wrong.

We invariably don’t complain to the people in charge when we get abominable service, and then go back for more because it’s convenient. However, back home, we whinge and moan about the service until the cows come home. How on earth do we expect anything to change if we don’t address it with the right people?

If we get bad service, we need to complain to management and if it doesn’t do the right thing, we shouldn’t return. We need to vote with our feet. Go elsewhere. And if we don’t complain, we have no right to expect things to change or be different. It’s a bit like tripping over something once, and then repeating it again and again. If you did it once, and learnt your lesson, you wouldn’t make the same mistake twice. Right?

I remember before our elections, people were going on about how it was inevitable the African National Congress (ANC) was going to win again because that’s what happens in South Africa. Well, it didn’t get its majority, and won only 40% of the vote, so clearly South Africans have learnt their lesson. We may take a while, but we do eventually learn. Change can happen if we demand it.

And now we have a new Government of National Unity (GNU), which at this stage looks positive. Consider the position of minister of international relations and cooperation, one always relevant to us and our relationship with Israel. We were hoping beyond hope – I know I was – that Dr Naledi Pandor wasn’t going to be brought back into that position. In this case, our wish was granted. But I guess one must be careful what one wishes for, considering that the new minister, Ronald Lamola, recently blatantly denied there was any antisemitism in South Africa. As the saying goes, “There are none so blind as those who will not see.”

I guess we need to give him a chance to do his job. Here’s hoping he will prove to be much better at it than we expect. And if he isn’t, it’s up to us to stand up and not let him get away with it.

In one week, I went to a protest in Tel Aviv, in which the people were demanding that the hostages be brought home and the government is changed, and a protest in Johannesburg. The latter was far smaller, in which residents demanded that the local powers that be fix our water problem after nine days without water in our suburb.

In both instances, there was a great sense of camaraderie among protesters. The police, who were initially mostly sympathetic, got frustrated with the protesters because they felt they were pushing the line.

However, in both cases, there was a sense among protesters that they were at least doing something in demanding change. They all felt proud to stand up and be counted and not just accept something they found offensive. Many pointed out that others feel the same but are too complacent to come out every week.

There was clear sense of community at both protests, with the bond being their sense of joint injustice at the situation and determination to fight for change. The communities looked very different, and they were, but the sense of purpose was the same.

In Israel, I felt the deep despair of Israelis about their situation. No matter how much Israelis love their country – and they do – they are gatvol of being at war. For so many of them, they are angry that the government has let the war go on for so long and allowed the damage it has wrought on the Israeli people.

As one wise man I met on the Gaza border said, “It’s time we stopped arguing about everything and found our way to secure Israel’s future. We’ll never totally agree with one another. Let’s say you will always be convinced of 11, and I will always believe in five. The good thing is we both have numbers, and can agree on that. So, we should be focusing on what we agree on, and trying to find a way forward with that. Then, in a decade, once we have fixed our country’s problems, we can look at the difference between five and 11, and solve that.”

This made total sense to me. He also said the best leaders are those who wake up every morning concerned only with their country’s people and what works best for them. Not leaders with big egos. Not leaders with an axe to grind. Not leaders with something to prove to others. Israel, he said, needs a leader whose sole purpose is the betterment of his people – all the people in his country.

Israelis, for the most part, don’t believe they have that right at the moment. Hence, the inevitable protests around the country many times a week.

South Africa’s new government gives us hope. The ANC is still predominantly in the driver’s seat, but the Democratic Alliance, Inkatha Freedom Party, Patriotic Alliance, and other parties are also in government, and this is a good sign.

However, we still have suburbs that don’t have water for upwards of nine days. We still have potholes and failing infrastructure. Will this change? Will we allow it to stagnate and not move forward?

The truth is, it’s up to us! We voted the GNU in, and we need to ensure that it lives up to its promises. Will its leaders wake up every morning with their only concern being our welfare? We don’t know yet.

I can’t see President Cyril Ramaphosa suddenly changing his spots, but perhaps with the other parties keeping things clean, he just might live up to previous expectations.

If not, we need to take to the streets and protest. Or find some other way of making our voices heard. The tribe has spoken, as said in reality television show, Survivor. Let’s see what happens next.

Shabbat Shalom!

Peta Krost


Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

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