Violence and vigilance
This past week, inflammatory rhetoric by pro-Hamas factions, particularly in Cape Town, reached even greater heights of virulence. Over the weekend, there were violent attacks on both Jews and Christian supporters of Israel, resulting in a Christian prayer meeting calling for peace and the release of the hostages which was scheduled to take place in Sea Point having to be cancelled. Among those strongly coming out against these thuggish attacks on the constitutional right to freedom of speech and assembly was Cape Town Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis. The mayor further condemned the unacceptable threats made by certain speakers against Herzlia school, a dangerous crossing of the line into outright incitement to cause harm, which our Cape Council is following up on with its legal advisors.
Over the past several days, the Board has met the state security cluster to address these threats. We are encouraged by the seriousness with which it is approaching the matter, and the commitment it is showing towards ensuring our community’s security at this volatile time. The Board is also in the process of assisting in laying criminal charges against certain individuals for antisemitically motivated attacks against community members.
On Tuesday, 14 November, the Board, together with the South African Zionist Federation, met the African National Conference (ANC) at its own request. The main purpose of the meeting from our point of view was to ask the ANC to reflect on the hurtful statements it made on the massacre of Israeli civilians carried out by Hamas on 7 October. We explained how let down our community felt by the ruling party’s failure to express any form of sympathy for the Israeli terror victims, mostly civilians, murdered by Hamas in the week following those atrocities. We further wanted to share the escalating levels of antisemitism in our country, which have increased nearly tenfold since the conflict began, and which are being fuelled by inflammatory rhetoric by certain political leaders.
During the meeting, the ANC acknowledged the hurt its stance had caused, making an appeal to rebuild trust and embark on a process of dialogue and re-engagement with the community. It was an open and honest engagement.
- Listen to Charisse Zeifert on Jewish Board Talk, 101.9 ChaiFM, every Friday from 12:00 to 13:00.