Zuma appeals to both Israel and Hamas
The purpose of the visit, as expressed by the spokesman for the Department of International Relations, was to make “a special appeal for an immediate ceasefire and call for calm and restraint by all parties to the conflict”.
The approach taken by South Africa has been to condemn both the actions of the Israeli Defence Forces and of Hamas for their rocket attacks and to deplore the deaths and suffering that has ensued in both territories.
We welcome the fact that government, despite vociferous calls by certain parties for it to expel the Israeli ambassador and sever all ties with Israel, has chosen instead the path of engagement with both sides. The President’s consistent stance has been to call on all parties to end the current conflict rather than pointing fingers at any particular side.
We believe that through adopting this reasonable, middle-of-the-road approach, South Africa can indeed put to constructive use its own experience of conflict resolution in helping to resolve peace in the Middle East.
Locally, the war in Gaza continues to generate negative fallout, particularly in the ongoing anti-Semitic comments appearing in the social media and elsewhere. Over the weekend, we had to deal with an especially disturbing tweet, purportedly sent out at the behest of the ANC Youth League, calling for Jews to be killed.
In our letter to President Zuma, we urged that all necessary steps be taken to investigate and take appropriate action on the matter. The letter further stressed that racist incitement of this nature was diametrically opposed, not just to the democratic, anti-racist ethos of the country, but to the fundamental values of the ANC itself.
The ANC has since distanced itself from the tweet, noting that the Twitter account used, was not the official ANCYL one and undertaking to investigate who set it up.
Since the opening of a hotline inviting community members to keep us informed of any anti-Semitic incidents or commentary they come across, we have received further notifications of such activity.
We appreciate being thus informed, as it enables us to document and timeously deal with each case as it arises. One of the consequences that we have noted of our having taken action against various individuals guilty of anti-Semitic hate speech, is that increasingly, false names and accounts are being used by perpetrators to disguise their identities.
Thank you Linda, welcome Ronnie
On Monday evening, the Council for KwaZulu-Natal Jewry held its AGM, at which Linda Nathan stepped down as president and Ronnie Herr took over. I congratulate Ronnie and look forward to working with him in his challenging new position. I also congratulate Linda on her very successful term of office and thank her for all her friendship and support.
Board provides regular updates
The Board provides regular updates on its activities via its electronic and social media outlets. I urge people to follow us on twitter @sajbd and to “like” us on our Facebook page, and also to help keep us informed about issues affecting the community as they arise.
We will endeavour to respond to whatever enquiries that are sent through to us; those wanting to speak to me directly can leave a message on the hotline, 071 921 0570 and I will get back to them as soon as I can.
- Listen to Charisse Zeifert on Jewish Board Talk, 101.9 ChaiFM every Friday 12:00 – 13:00.