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When good men do something, lives are saved




And every time I thought that, I smiled. I kept thinking of the incredible work done by Ian Scher and his team. Scher is the head of Rescue South Africa, a local organisation that flies all over the world to save lives of people in crisis situations. It does astonishing work! Scher and his team are “good men (and women)”. When they first got wind that Cyclone Idai was en route to Mozambique, they immediately got ready to leave the comfort of their homes and head into the unknown to save lives. And, they worked relentlessly to do just that in the toughest conditions. This is far from the first or the last time they did this. (See page 4.)

Lo and behold, it turns out there were far more “good men (and women)” from our community who wanted to help those left destitute in Mozambique.

The South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) took to raising money and non-perishables to send to combat the humanitarian crisis caused by the cyclone. And, as SAJBD National Director Wendy Kahn said, our community members were so willing to open their hearts and help these desperate people on our border.

Our people are like that – they are always willing to go the extra mile for those in need. Once again, it is clearly “good men” doing something that will prevent evil from triumphing.

However, when Kahn mentioned that Gift of the Givers was going to transport what it had collected to the crisis zone, some people were very unhappy.

Now, for those who don’t know, Gift of the Givers is a humanitarian response organisation. It, too, rushes into areas where angels fear to tread to deliver life-saving aid in the form of rescue teams, medical personnel and equipment, medicine, food, and water. It has done this for millions of people in 43 countries so far. It doesn’t ask or care what race, religion, colour, or class the people it helps are, it simply does what it can to save lives.

Yes, Gift of the Givers does have a Muslim background, and, yes, it does refer to a place called “Palestine”. However, these are extraordinarily “good men”.

Because of the latter, there was a small segment of our community which was furious that the SAJBD dared to work with the Gift of the Givers.

Importantly, there were far more people who lauded the SAJBD for joining hands with Gift of the Givers, putting aside differences, and working together to save lives. As Bronwyn Penn Nesbitt aptly put it on Facebook, “Working together, we can make the world a better place!”

I salute the SAJBD for doing this. It is an example to us all. It is vital that we stop seeing differences, step over the barriers, and work together for the good of humankind. (See page 5.)

On that note, there is a certain segment of our country, and indeed it is a small one, that is dead against any kind of understanding. It is Boycott Divestment Sanction (BDS) South Africa, which despite constantly saying that it is a humanitarian organisation, is determined only to sew hatred and lies. It will stop at nothing to paint Israel as the devil and Hamas, the Palestinian Authority, Hezbollah, and other Palestinian organisations as angelic.

And, it does it well. While Israel was reeling from a rocket attack from Gaza this week, destroying a home and injuring a family, a top South African government official made it clear that the government looks to BDS for direction in Israeli-Palestinian matters.

Speaker of the National Assembly Baleka Mbete sent a video message to an international BDS conference in Ramallah, saying as much.

Her message makes it clear she has no problem in relying on BDS for a direction in these matters, rather than actually getting on a plane, going to Israel, and finding out for herself. (See page 3.)

This is frightening, and clarifies the distorted view held by some vocal members of government.

So, once again, I call on the “good men (and women)” in government and the ANC to stop this one-sided view of the Israeli-Palestinian situation. Let us find a way of working together towards saving lives and making peace. Stop the hatred and violence, and find peaceful solutions that will save lives. That way, with the help of good men, evil will not triumph

Finally, Grant Gochin – who essentially took the Lithuanian government to court to get it to acknowledge what was done to its Jewish population at its hands – lost his fight. The Lithuanian court claimed this week that his intentions were “ill-based” and dismissed his case. Gochin has no intention of letting this go. We support him. He is undoubtedly one of the “good men”. Go Grant!

Shabbat Shalom!

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