#MakeUsCount 2019

Cape Town, 6 May 2019: When South Africans go the polls this Wednesday to vote in our sixth Democratic election, the SA Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) ‘Make Us Count’ will be one of the election observer team there to ensure that the elections are conducted in a free and fair manner.  

This historic interfaith observer group has grown beyond the Jewish community, and uniquely brings together Muslim, Catholic, Anglican, Agnostic and others in helping safeguard the integrity of the electoral process. 

In addition to its multi-faith nature, the team includes many foreign nationals currently living in South Africa.  According to Alana Baranov, the originator of the ‘Make Us Count’ team, “one of the most special aspects of this team are the refugee observers, many of whom have never witnessed an election and cannot vote in their countries of origin.  They want to be a part our team to give back to South Africa and be a part of a democratic process first hand". 

The team comprises of over 200 observer stationed at polls across the country.  You can follow the #MakeUsCount hashtag on Twitter for updates through the day. The team is officially accredited by the IEC and will be working with election officials on the day.  

The monitoring group forms just one aspect of the SAJBDs’ broader election awareness, education and mobilization campaign held in the lead up to the 2019 general elections.  It further included mobilizing people to register to vote; promoting the registration of South Africans based overseas and hosting a series of high-profile political events across the country and organising two particularly successful election debates in Johannesburg and Cape Town.  It also provided opportunities for the Jewish community to be addressed by representatives of some of the main competing parties.  

For more information on the ‘Make Us Count’ election observer team, please contact Yanir Grindler on 082 080 8189 or yanir@sajbd.org

ENDS

Issued by Charisse Zeifert, 082 427 2788 / Charisse@beyachad.co.za  

6 May 2019

SA Jewry calls on government to condemn rocket attacks on Israel

SAJBD and SAZF condemn the attacks on Israel. 

Johannesburg, 6 May 2019: Yet again, the people of Israel and Gaza are mourning their dead following another unprovoked wave of deadly attacks by Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Over 600 missiles have been fired at Israel, striking homes, schools, kindergartens, synagogues and a hospital. Four Israeli civilians have been killed and many more injured. 

The SA Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) and SA Zionist Federation (SAZF) deplore and condemn these latest acts of murderous violence against the Israeli people. Ever since Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza in 2005, Hamas and other extremist groupings seeking Israel’s destruction have used it as a base from which to continually bombard Israeli towns. So long as this persists, all efforts towards achieving peaceful co-existence between the two peoples are doomed to failure.

Typically, Hamas chose to carry out its attacks from densely-populated civilian areas, using hospitals, schools and other ‘neutral’ installations as launching pads for rockets and storehouses for weaponry. This use of civilians as human shields is a flagrant contravention of international law. It makes Hamas guilty not only for Israeli deaths and injuries, but also for the inevitable casualties suffered by its own people. The time has come to lay the blame for the ongoing suffering and destruction at the door of those truly responsible. So long as Hamas and its accomplices are rewarded with propaganda victories every time they instigate conflict, they will persist in this perverted policy.

Unlike Hamas, Israel tries to avoid harming civilians. Ultimately, however, its primary responsibility is to protect its own citizens. No sovereign nation can reasonably be expected not to respond when subjected to a barrage of hundreds of deadly missiles, each of which has the power to wreak havoc and take many lives and which target major population centres.

The SAJBD and SAZF commend those responsible for brokering a ceasefire, especially the government of Egypt, and urge all parties to strictly abide by its terms. We further call on our government to unequivocally condemn rocket attacks on Israel. In order for our country to be true role players on the world stage, government needs to speak out clearly in situations when such blatant acts of aggression are perpetrated, whether by the Palestinians or anyone else.

The SAJBD and SAZF extend heartfelt condolences to the bereaved families and pray for the recovery of the victims.

For more information please contact Charisse Zeifert on 082 427 2788 / Charisse@sajbd.org.

______________________________________________________________

Issued by the SA Jewish Board of Deputies and South African Zionist Federation

6 May 2019

The South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) congratulates the UCT Council

Johannesburg, 31 March 2019: The South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) congratulates the UCT Council for rejecting the Senate resolution on their proposed academic boycott of Israel. Their decision on Saturday endorsed the principles of academic freedom that underpin any credible global top ranking university.

An attempt to boycott academic institutions in Israel, or indeed in any other country, would contravene outright these principles, on which the proper functioning of institutes of higher learning is predicated. For CT to do so under any circumstances, let alone at the behest of a narrow-interest lobby group, would be a tragic betrayal of the universities fine record of upholding such values.

We look to the Senate to further endorse and uphold these principles in their future deliberations. Any resolutions should reconfirm the Universities ethos and its commitment to fairness, justice and non-racialism.

For more information please contact Wendy Kahn on 082 444 3675 / wendy@sajbd.org

"Raise Your Voice - Not Your Phone"

The Cape SA Jewish Board of Deputies applauds the establishment of the anti-bullying Project Brave Heart organisation and the Western Cape Education Department’s anti-bullying campaign, “Raise Your Voice – Not your Phone” as reported in the Argus 24.2.2019.

It is horrifying that despite a constitution clearly demanding that all are to be treated with dignity, the message is not being heard and more than three million children are bullied in SA each year. With the advent of social media cyberbullying has become an easy and cowardly way to attack other learners and sadly some of these attacks have led to teenage suicides..

The Bible commands us to protect the weak and if the word bully was known at the time, Prof Eisen, chancellor of New York’s Jewish Theological Seminary, has suggested, “Thou shalt not bully”would probably have been included as a commandment.

Our community has learnt two things in the 20th century. First: Never be a bully. If you see someone being bullied, whether by an individual or a group, go to his or her defence. Do not help to spread cyberhate against others. Second: Never allow yourself to be bullied. Stand up in your own defence. Don’t pick fights but don’t run away from them. Because you can be sure if the bully succeeds that day, against you, he will bully you again and will go after others, as well.

These campaigns will help to develop a more comprehensive programme to tackle the problem in the schools.

We shall be encouraging our community to wear red and blue on the 3rd May in support of the anti - bullying campaign.

We want our youth to grow up in a society where bullying whether physical or cyberbullying, is seen as the despicable, cowardly and contemptible act it is, a society where there is no place for hate.

Stuart Diamond

DIRECTOR

Cape SA Jewish Board of Deputies commemorates UN International Holocaust Remembrance Day at the Cape Town Council Chambers.

#WeRemember

Cape Town, 28 January 2019: UN International Holocaust Remembrance Day (HRD) is an international memorial day held on 27 January the day that the Soviet forces liberated Auschwitz and discovered the horrors inside. Cape Town City Councillor Ronel Viljoen (Portfolio Chairperson Community and Health) and Cape Town City councillors commemorated the day with the Cape Jewish Board of Deputies. An unveiling of a series of mosaics depicting the Neue Synagogue in Berlin destroyed on Kristallnacht (The Night of Broken Glass) in 1937. The creation by the Herzlia High School art students - an artistic response to the trauma of their Holocaust history - will be on display for a week at the Cape Town City Chambers to promote awareness of this important day.

UN International Holocaust Remembrance Day commemorates the tragedy of the Holocaust and honours the victims of Nazism, including Jews, Poles, Roma, Soviet prisoners of war, LGBQTI people, the handicapped and others. It also rejects all forms of Holocaust denial and encourages all its member states, including South Africa, to adopt and promote Holocaust education programmes.

Guest of Honour, Jewish Holocaust survivor and refugee to South Africa, Miriam Kleinebscht who described her family's relief at eventually finding refuge in South Africa when she was just a young thirteen year old girl, “We landed! I was so happy to be in South Africa, the sense of freedom, being able to participate in daily life like everyone else! It was unbelievable!” Miriam a remarkable 96 years old, spoke about the horrors of living in Nazi Germany and spoke fondly of Bochum, the coal mining village in Western Germany she had come from. She said “Bochum had a community of 1152 Jews who had been living there since 1349. The first synagogue was built in 1594, and it too was destroyed on Krisallnacht along with other Jewish communal buildings and schools. The Jewish community was diminished to about 40 people after the war. The rest had all perished in the Riga, Auschwitz and Theredienstadt Death Camps.” She went on to say how horrified her family was when ten years later, in South Africa, the Nationalist government brought in Apartheid, copying the Nazi laws. Once again park benches, pools and cinemas were reserved for particular groups. Mariam ended her speech with a loud and resounding message “On this, the United National International Holocaust Remembrance Day, we must acknowledge the past both in Germany and South Africa and say NEVER AGAIN!"

Rael Kaimowitz, Chairman of the Cape SAJBD explains the significance of this day further, “It is vital that we remember that past. What begins with Jews, doesn’t end with Jews. Hitler’s Final Solution was designed to kill every Jew and it ultimately consumed, Europe’s handicapped, its gypsies, homosexuals and religious dissidents. History shows that when there is an increase in antisemitism, there is an increase in prejudice against other minority communities including Islamaphobia and attacks on all minorities culture. It is early warning sign of collective breakdown in society.” He continues “It is a reminder of where racism and discrimination can lead. And with racism on the rise in South Africa, this is an important reminder. There should be no place for hate in this country.”

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________Ends

Notes to editors:

About International Holocaust Remembrance Day

· The United Nations set 27 January as International Holocaust Remembrance Day in 2005.

· The Nov. 1, 2005, resolution honours the victims of Nazism, including Jews, Poles, Roma, Soviet prisoners of war and others. 6 million Jews and millions of others minorities were murdered on orders of the Nazis who ruled Germany from 1933 through the end of World War II in 1945.

· About 2,200 people attended first commemoration in 2006 at the U.N. Headquarters in New York City.

· Since 2010, the U.N. has designated themes for each year’s commemorations focusing on some aspect of the Holocaust, according to the museum. This year’s theme is “torn from home”.

· See António Guterres (UN Secretary-General) on the Holocaust Remembrance Day (27 January 2019)http://webtv.un.org/watch/antónio-guterres-un-secretary-general-on-the-holocaust-remembrance-day-24-january-2019/5993519288001/

COUNTRY COMPARISONS, 2015-2018: Total Antisemitic Incidents by Country

2015                        2016                        2017                        2018

South Africa:                          54                             43                              44                          61

Australia:                                190                           210                           230                       366

Canada:                                    1277                      1728                        1752                        n.a.

France:                                     808                          335                           311                           n.a.

UK:                                             924                         1309                        1382                        727* (January-June only)

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Cape Jewish Community hosts a voter education event for all SAJBD (Cape Council) engages with the IEC and My Vote Counts in preparation for the 2019 election

Cape Town, 23 November 2018: The SAJBD (Cape Council) hosted an evening of critical discussion with Dr Nomsa Masuku, Independent Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) and Janine Ogle of National Co-ordinator of the non-profit organisation, My Vote Counts (MVC). This community meeting was to emphasize citizen awareness and active participation in the democratic voting process in South Africa.

Attended by the wider community and members of civic organisations, Dr Masuku gave the audience an in depth understanding into the complex workings of the IEC. She explained the processes leading up to and post-election time, the various voter readiness programmes and complex registration processes.

Dr. Masuku shared startling statistics showing thatthe least represented segment of registered voters is the 18-19 year old demographic. Only 270,356 young voters registered to to vote countrywide, when in fact there are 1,729,923 eligible voters in this population group. She noted with concern, “It is this younger generation who have the most difficulties with election results. So it is imperative for us to target them through our communications efforts.” 

The MVC’s, Janine Ogle echoed Dr. Masuku’s sentiments on the importance of free and fair elections in a democracy. Her organisation’s work is to ensure that the political and electoral systems are open, fair and for government to be accountable to the public. Their current focus, is to pressurise the President to enact the Political Party Funding Bill, by signing it before the 2019 elections. This legislation will curb the instances of corruption on all levels by putting measures in place that not only have political parties disclose their donor information on a regular basis but also regulate it by having the IEC monitor and oversee this process. 

She appealed to the audience to sign the MVC’s petition, and explains “ We are effectively telling the President to not have the Bill collect coffee stains on his desk. We need him to grant us our Constitutional right to information and to cast an informed vote ahead of the elections in 2019.

Committed to voter education, the IEC has a unit of 1600 voter educators that can be deployed to any community event to educate citizens. The message was clear, that citizens need to actively prepare and participate in the elections, and with the Western Cape sitting with only 3,039,327 registered voters, we need to mobilise our immediate communities, especially the youth to to take advantage of these informative iniaitives, if we want our voices to be heard.

Provincial breakdown of registered voters as at 31 August 2018

Screen Shot 2018-12-04 at 9.38.04 AM.png

NOTE: 1The VAP figures were supplied by StatsSA

About the SAJBD (Cape): Started in 1915, it is the umbrella organisation for the Cape Jewish Community that, i) safeguard the religious and civil rights and the status and welfare of the Jewish community in the Republic of South Africa (ii) Acts on behalf of the Jewish community in the Republic in all matters affecting its relationship with the Government and with provincial, local and other authorities, whether statutory or non-governmental; (iii) Promotes harmonious relations between the Jewish community and all sections of the population in the Republic; (iv) Promotes the creative content and enhance the quality of Jewish life in the Republic;  (v) Takes any lawful action it may deem necessary in all matters affecting the Jewish community; (vi) Maintains fraternal relations with Jewish communities and institutions in other lands; (vii) Collects and applies funds for carrying out its objects (viii) Furthers respect for and the application of fundamental human rights for all sections of the population of the Republic. www.capesajbd.org

Released by:

Liza-Jane Saban : Head of Communications (SAJBD Cape Council)

+2783 565 1906      I liza-jane@ctjc.co.za




Mitzvah Day: Cape Town 22 October

For immediate release

Be a Mensch on Mitzvah Day.

Mensch Mitzvah Day, a day of global social action launches in Southern African 

Cape Town, 22 October 2018: Ancient wisdom and modern science seem to agree: Being a part of something larger might be one of the best things we can do, both for others and ourselves. Mitzvah Day is an international movement guided by the Jewish values that brings thousands of people together worldwide, of all faiths and none, to give their time, not their money to make a difference to the communities around them. Local South African NGO, Mensch, has been invited by Mitzvah Day UK, the event’s original organisers to host this day of social action in Southern Africa on Sunday, 18 November 2018. 

Mitzvah Day is a Jewish-led day of social action that started off in the United Kingdom ten years ago, bringing people of all backgrounds together to do good. Gina Flash, organiser of the day in South Africa says that on Mensch Mitzvah Day “we give our time, not our money, to make a difference to the community around us. We introduce people to social action, to their neighbours and to local charities setting up projects which address real needs. Jewish led, we bring people of other faiths and none, to volunteer side by side, with fun and laughter, bringing communities close together.”

“2018 has been a year where we have seen an increase of divisiveness in our country” says Rael Kaimowitz, Chairman of the SAJBD (Cape) who are one of the Mensch Mitzvah Day’s sponsors, “For those of us who believe in unity and respect, we know that there is a need to build stronger local communities and that reaching out to all our neighbours has become more important than ever before.” He continues “We are supporting Mensch Mitzvah Day because our vision is of Jews and non-Jews coming together to build more cohesive neighbourhoods and to strengthen civil society.”

On Mensch Mitzvah Day, South Africans are invited to gather their colleagues and friends to give of their time to make a difference, both in their local communities by gifting an organisation with an act of kindness - a Mitzvah! 

The chosen Mensch Mitzvah Day activity would depend on the needs of a beneficiary organisation, project or community. From reading to children or donating books, to ‘Make & Bakes’ for shelters to sunshine outings for the elderly, to starting a neighbourhood recycling project - the options are endless for these acts of kindness.

Taking part is easy! Register as Volunteer Partners (your school grade, community group, friendship group, or business), or as Beneficiary Partners (non-profit organisations, projects or charities), decide on an activity and partner, and create your Mensch Mitzvah Day!


Mensch Mitzvah Day gives us an opportunity to appreciate what life is really all about: taking what life gives us, with all its brokenness and deficiencies, and making it as beautiful and meaningful as we can. 

Be a mensch, join us on the first ever Mensch Mitzvah Day event! 

 

For more information, visit www.mensch.org.za/mitzvahday or email info@mensch.org.za or contact Gina Flash, 079 1430 006.  Use the hashtag: #MenschMitzvahDay 

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________Ends.

Notes to the editor: 

·       Mitzvah: In common usage, a mitzvah often means “a good deed” or a “selfless act of kindness”— as in “Do a mitzvah and help Mrs. Govender with her packages.” 

·       Mensch: A mensch is a person who can be relied on to act with honour and integrity. It also suggests someone who is kind and considerate. As in  “ Be a Mensch and help Mrs. Govender with her parcels!”

About Mensch: Mensch is an NGO that supports and facilitates change-makers and change-making activities to bring about social transformation in South Africa. Mitzvah Day is a day that ignites the spirit of volunteerism. Mensch facilitates a network of Jewish social change-makers and engage a broader community of activated social change-agents to learn, network and act collaboratively. www.mensch.org.za

Impact Report from the UK Mitzvah Day: https://mitzvahday.org.uk/vision-mission/annual-reports/

About the SAJBD (Cape): Started in 1915, it is the umbrella organisation for the Cape Jewish Community that, i) safeguard the religious and civil rights and the status and welfare of the Jewish community in the Republic of South Africa (ii) Acts on behalf of the Jewish community in the Republic in all matters affecting its relationship with the Government and with provincial, local and other authorities, whether statutory or non-governmental; (iii) Promotes harmonious relations between the Jewish community and all sections of the population in the Republic; (iv) Promotes the creative content and enhance the quality of Jewish life in the Republic;  (v) Takes any lawful action it may deem necessary in all matters affecting the Jewish community; (vi) Maintains fraternal relations with Jewish communities and institutions in other lands; (vii) Collects and applies funds for carrying out its objects (viii) Furthers respect for and the application of fundamental human rights for all sections of the population of the Republic. www.capesajbd.org

Released by: 

Liza-Jane Saban 

Head of Communications (SAJBD Cape Council) 

Ph: 0835651906

Human Rights are non-negotiable.

The SAJBD adds its voice to deregister the African Basic Movement

For immediate release

Cape Town, 26 October 2018: Immigration is set to become a key issue in the 2019 South African elections. The issue is ripe for populist campaigns. Serious measures to counter the dangerous rise in xenophobic rhetoric need to be taken, including the deregistration of the African Basic Movement who have called for government to 'get rid of' asylum-seekers and refugees by the end of 2018. 

 “Xenophobia is an issue that the South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) takes extremely seriously” explains Rael Kaimowitz, Chairman of Cape (SAJBD),  “After the horrors of the 2008 attacks against refugees, the hate-attacks continue throughout the country.  We are flirting with some serious issues with politicians who stoke this anti-foreigner rhetoric.  We call upon the IEC CEO Sy Mamabolo to act swiftly. Politicians who pander to xenophobia forget that human rights are non-negotiable in our country.” 

The SAJBD (Cape) will join civic organisations to lodge a complaint with the IEC to deregister the African Basic Movement. 

 There is simply no place for hate in our country.  Political parties, along with the citizens of the country need to make every effort to build a more tolerant, and informed society, free of xenophobic prejudices. 

__________________________________________________________________Ends

Notes to editor:

No Place For Hate – The SAJBD (Cape Council)  recently launched a No Place for Hate campaign which sets out to change bias-behaviour. With an increase in public displays of hate, this is an open-source of materials that can be used by individuals, schools, organisations and businesses who pledge to make the world around them free from hate.

You can start by signing your own personal #Noplaceforhate agreement on the pledge wall, visit www.capesajbd.co.za to do so.

Hashtag:  #noplaceforhate

Released by:

Liza-Jane Saban

Head of Communications – SAJBD (Cape Council)

0835651906


SAJBD welcomes apology over antisemitic comments

SAJBD welcomes apology over antisemitic comments

For immediate release

Johannesburg, 18 July 2018: At a meeting last night held at Ian Levitt Attorneys in Sandton, the SA Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) withdrew criminal charges against two Johannesburg men.  This followed a settlement agreement reached between the parties.  

The charges laid against Tameez Seedat and Muhammad Hattia were in response to threatening and antisemitic comments that they made on a Whatsapp group, Sneakerheads.   

Senior SAJBD representatives, including the National Chairman Shaun Zagnoev, as well as one of the administrators of the Sneakerheads group (who cannot be named as he is a minor), were present.  

Zagnoev said that the meeting had been a very moving one for all concerned. There had been no doubt that both Seedat and Hattia were genuinely remorseful for what they had done and wished only to make amends. The comments made by family members who accompanied them likewise showed a sincere desire to address whatever harm had been done and move forward in a spirit of peace and reconciliation.   

The SAJBD welcomes the settlement. We are committed to building a South Africa where people accept and respect the right of others to hold different viewpoints, irrespective of whether or not we agree with them. We are further encouraged by the sincerity and goodwill that emerged during the meeting held between the parties and their legal representatives last night. That meeting took place immediately following Mandela Day, and was informed throughout by the spirit of reconciliation that Nelson Mandela epitomised.  

The administrator of the Sneakerhead whatsapp group, said that he had felt comfortable accepting the apologies, since those responsible genuinely regretted their actions. He further remarked on how positive a difference it made for those in conflict with each other simply to meet face to face to resolve the issues between them.

In terms of the agreement, Hattia and Seedat expressed sincere regret at having posted the comments, and unequivocally apologized in writing to the South African Jewish community and to the Jewish members of the Sneakerheads group.  It was also agreed that both would attend a programme at the Johannesburg Holocaust & Genocide Centre to learn more about the importance of fighting bigotry and intolerance.

The SAJBD will continue with its legal action against Matome Letsoalo, who has enthusiastically continued his attacks against the Jewish community on social media (and even opened a new twitter account for this express purpose).

For more information please contact Charisse Zeifert on 082 427 2788

Shashi Naidoo has become the latest victim of this thuggish vendetta.

Johannesburg, 18 June 2018: For hard-core haters of Israel, merely defaming and demonising the Jewish state is no longer enough.  Now, they are using blatant threats and intimidation to punish and silence anyone who dares to challenge their bigoted narrative.

Shashi Naidoo has become the latest victim of this thuggish vendetta. For tweeting comments expressing support for Israel and condemning its enemies, she has become the recipient of multiple death threats, in addition to being subjected to a flood online abuse. This hysterical invective continues unchecked, despite Naidoo having since apologised for at one point using an expression that she concedes was insulting. 

The SA Jewish Board of Deputies is appalled by how flagrantly the right to freedom of expression is being abused when it comes to debating the Israeli-Palestinian question.  When it comes to Israel, it is a case of “anything goes”. Those who hate the Jewish state are permitted to express themselves in the most virulent, over-the-top terms, without fear of harassment.  It is a very different question for those who take a stand on Israel’s behalf, particularly when they are public figures. 

One does not have to be a supporter of Israel to deplore how extremists on the other side are hijacking the conversation with a view to ensuring that their side only is heard. It is something that needs to be condemned across the board, not only as a threat to fundamental democratic freedom, but as an affront to common decency.      

Mpho Phalatse: Enough of intimidation & blackmail against those who seek to exercise their basic Constitutional Rights

Johannesburg, 12 June 2018: Earlier this year, the ANC repeatedly denounced artist DJ Black Coffee simply for exercising his democratic right to perform in Israel. Then civil society went for journalist Gareth Cliff, depicting him as a moral pariah for daring to put forward an alternate opinion on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  Now Dr Mpho Phalatse, MMC for the DA in Gauteng, has become the target of hysterical condemnation for having expressed support for Israel at a South African Friends of Israel conference on Sunday.  This is despite her subsequent clarification that she did so in her personal capacity.  

These are just the most recent instances of attempts to silence South Africans who challenge the anti-Israel narrative. It is all part of an environment in which Israel is being demonised to a degree that bears no relationship to reality. The propagandist whipping up of emotion aims at ensuring that only one opinion on the subject will be allowed, with anyone who disagrees with that narrow-minded, usually agenda-driven, opinion becoming a target for vilification.  

Anti-Israel bigotry does not merely threaten the rights of the hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of South Africans who are passionate supporters of Israel. It also poses a serious threat to democracy in our country. South Africa has one of the most progressive Constitutions in the world, one that guarantees freedom of association and freedom of expression. Despite this, those who express support for Israel, or increasingly those that express differing or dissenting views on a broad range of topics, face horrendous intimidation, hate speech and attempts at silencing them, not just from members of the general public but, much more seriously, from the political establishment as well. Dr Mpho Phalatse has become the latest target of this totalitarian strategy.

This is an unacceptable situation. Ours is a democracy that entitles every one of us to hold and express differing opinions. We call on all South Africans to stand up against those who resort to bullying and intimidation to prevent others from exercising that inalienable right. 



Notes to Editor
For more information please contact Marc Pozniak, Vice-Chair SAJBD (Gauteng) on 082 890 3137

Released by:
Charisse Zieffert
Head of Communications – SAJBD (Gauteng)
011 645 2547 / 082 427-2788

 

Statement: Murder of Aubrey Jackson and Rosalie Bloch

Cape Town, 7 May 2018: It was with great sadness that we learnt of the tragic deaths of Aubrey Jackson and Rosalie Bloch, members of the Cape Jewish community. The SAJBD (Cape Council) express their deepest condolences to the Bloch and Jackson families who lost their loved ones in a violent and abhorrent manner over the weekend.

Aubrey’s father, Abraham M Jackson served as Chairman of the Cape Board from 1946-1949, and under his Chairmanship, founded the United Communal Fund. He played a remarkable role in many Jewish communal organisations and in the greater Cape Town community throughout his life. Abraham was life president of the Green and Sea Point Hebrew Congregation and a former chairman of the Community Chest, amongst others and was fondly known as “the fighting Irishman”. 

The Cape Board is horrified that violent crime remains disturbingly high in South Africa, and are perplexed by the senseless killings of this elderly couple. In Jewish religious teaching, we learn that the shedding of blood (Shefikhut Damim) is the primeval sin (Gen. 4:8) and throughout the centuries ranks in Jewish law as the gravest and most reprehensible of all offenses. With this in mind, we hope that the perpetrators of this crime will be apprehended and brought to justice swiftly.

For immediate release: Community-wide Yom Hashoah Memorial Day

Cape Town, 26 March 2018: The South African Jewish Board of Deputies (Cape Council) is leading a community-wide observance to remember the Holocaust on Wednesday, 11 April 2018, at Pinelands 2 at the Jewish Cemetery. Yom Hashoah is also known as Holocaust Remembrance Day. "Shoah" means utter destruction in Hebrew, and refers to the atrocities that were committed against the Jewish people during World War II. 

Yom HaShoah v’HaGevurah, a Day of Remembrance of the Holocaust and the Heroism is a community commemoration service starting at 12h45pm, all are welcome.

The ceremony will feature Holocaust survivor, Ella Blumenthal with her daughter, Evelyn Kaplan, granddaughter Jade Kaplan and great-granddaughter Deena Wolpert, as keynote speakers who deliver a speech together, “The Shoah- its impact on 4 generations”. 

The community will also have an opportunity to pay tribute to the memory of those lives lost, as we recreate an art installation of a synagogue that was destroyed in Kristallnacht, the Night of Broken Glass, eighty years ago. Kristallnacht owes its name to the shards of shattered glass that lined German streets in the wake of the holocaust—broken glass from the windows of synagogues, homes, and Jewish-owned businesses plundered and destroyed during the violence.

12h45:  Musical Reflections with Aviva Pelham 

13h00:  Community Tribute - “Night of Broken Glass" Art Installation

13h20:  Traditional Ceremony

Guest Speaker: The Shoah- its impact on 4 generations. Ella Blumenthal, Evelyn Kaplan, Jade Kaplan and Deena Wolpert 

14h00         Ceremony Ends

Ceremony Location: 
Pinelands 2, Jewish Cemetery, Forest Dr, Thornton, Cape Town, 7485

Released by: 
SAJBD (Cape Council) 
Liza-Jane Saban
Head of Communications
083 565 1906

Holocaust Memorial: No Place for Hate

A message of “end the hate” was the takeaway for the “Yom Hashoah” Holocaust Memorial yesterday at Pinelands 2 cemetery.  Yom Hashoah or Holocaust Memorial Day is a day of commemoration honouring the memory of the 6 million Jewish victims of the Holocaust and the other victims of the Nazis and their collaborators. More than 70 years after the Holocaust, the Cape Town community remembered the survivors and those who died. The event included musical performances, speaker remarks and an emotional testimony by a local survivor that moved hundreds of people in attendance to tears.

A Cape Town Jewish family shared their experiences and struggles by sharing the appalling story of what their family members went through during the Holocaust and its’ effect on each of them. Holocaust Survivor Ella Blumenthal (96 years old) spoke alongside her daughter, granddaughter and great-granddaughter about the impact of the Holocaust on each generation in their family. Mrs Blumenthal who experienced horror, pain and personal tragedies, acknowledged her cousin Rivka for the first time in her life. Rivka perished in a concentration camp. She explained that it was through taking Rivka’s name on her uncles’ visa to Palestine that she was able to escape Europe. Throughout her unspeakable experience, she never gave up hope and is perplexed that genocides continue in the world today.  

Rael Kaimowitz, Chairman of the South African Jewish Board of Deputies (Cape Council), addressed the audience and said that the tragedy of the Shoah must be remembered and passed down from generation to generation. He stated that this can only be achieved if we speak out against discrimination of others and continually reflect on the historical impact of these events to ensure they stop. During his opening address, he said:

“70 years ago, it was not the shards of breaking glass in synagogues and Jewish businesses that sounded the loudest. It was the vast majority of the German population standing by in silence that was truly deafening.

The absence of protest by ordinary Germans on Kristallnacht, the night of broken glass, signalled to the Nazis that they were free to continue with their plans to destroy the Jewish people.

In the 1930’s, there was surely no Place for Hate in the most civilised country and culture in the world? In 2018, there is surely No Place for Hate is there?

We have the United Nations; we have human rights, we have social activism, we have constitutional rule, we have “Never Again”. And yet, there is Hate everywhere.

 How much hate does it take to send men, women and children, old and young, religious and secular to gas chambers?

How much hate does it take in 2018 to use poisonous gas on your own civilian population?

How much hate does it take in 2018 for an 85-year-old Holocaust survivor to be stabbed to death and burned because she was Jewish?

How much hate does it take…. “ 

The first Yom Hashoah was 1953, and it has continued to be an essential day for Jewish people to come together and honour lost relatives and ancestors.

SAJBD says no upside to an Embassy downgrade in Israel

Johannesburg, 28 March 2018: The South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) notes the 54th National Conference Report & Resolutions, under the theme, Remember Oliver Tambo: Towards Unity, Renewal and Radical socio-economic transformation. The SAJBD is firmly supportive of the ruling party’s efforts and commitment to improve the lives of all South Africans and make meaningful its promises to improve economic growth and meaningfully address inequality and unemployment.

We however, once again, strongly advise the Government against a resolution to downgrade the South African Embassy in Israel. Such a move would negatively affect a large and diverse constituency. Since the initial announcement the outcry from a range of inter-faith communities, civil societies and Jewish interest groups has been astounding. We all realise that a downgrade is a punitive measure that will, in no way impact on the Israeli-Palestinian issue and will in way brings the two parties closer to a sustainable peace. But it will instead negatively affect our own South African citizens. A downgrade would be contrary to the ANC’s renewed commitment to nation-building and the optimism of President Cyril Ramaphosa ‘New Dawn’, as it would be sending a clear message that the citizens of a foreign country are more important than your own.

Indeed, as the Chairperson of the CRL Commission Thoko Mkhwanazi-Xaluva, said, the downgrade would “unfairly impact on the ability of SA Jews to practice and identify with their religious and cultural heritage and as such it would probably be unconstitutional. She is correct in believing that “no action should overtake the rights of people who live in the country. Otherwise, we render the constitution meaningless.” Additionally, many in the Christian community will be impacted in terms of their connection with Israel, and the downgrade is going to affect pilgrimages, a religious right for millions of SA Christians.

The decision to downgrade the South African Embassy in Israel is hypocritical as it is inconsistent with the ways in which the ANC seeks to engage with other countries. Practically, it would also affect South Africa’s trade, cultural, educational and economic growth. There is no upside to a downgrade.

Peace between Israel and the Palestinians is possible, and South Africa has a role to play in bringing this about. South Africa had in the past sent its envoys to the region to find solutions. As South Africans, we can also play a role in sharing our own lessons of dialogue and negotiations that were pivotal in our successful transition into an inclusive democratic society. The ANC, with its close historical relationship with the Palestinians needs to gain the trust of the Israeli’s and this would allow an ANC government to facilitate dialogue between the two sides. A downgrade would preclude the ANC from doing this, especially at the present moment, when the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is in desperate need of a credible peace-broker. 

The SAJBD, therefore, calls on the ANC, in the interests of pursuing a society based on equality and freedom of association, to consider moving towards a more meaningful role in finding peace. We remain committed in engaging and working with the ANC in finally realising a framework for negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians.

For more information please contact Wendy Kahn on 082 444 3675 or wendy@sajbd.or

Cape Board: Moving towards constructive engagement

The Cape Board has a history of tackling difficult issues.  We hold robust debate with community members, politicians, activists and media. When we face constructive criticism, we take it on. Especially so, if it is to strengthen our communal function and efficacy.  

The latest issue we tackle, is the latest SAJR report titled: Cape Board election found to be “flawed”. 

The article has the consequence of adding very little to the public understanding of the matter and amplifies opinions rather than facts. In reference to the opinions in the piece, we would like to clarify for the community: 

  • The Cape Board has accepted its election was flawed. 
  • As soon as certain voting delegates challenged the 2017 electoral process, the Board responded.
  • The Seligson Panel was assigned to fact-find and investigate these allegations and make recommendations. This was an autonomous appointment made by the Board
  • Eric Marx acted improperly. He has acknowledged his error, apologised and withdrew from public life for a period of time. Seligson Report confirms “We understand that the misconduct has been dealt with and there is no need for us to suggest further action be taken.”
  • The two women voted off in the 2017 election were not targeted based on their gender. 
  • The Seligson Report states “(We are) unable to find that there was indeed a concerted, organised campaign to spread specific defamatory allegations against the two candidates among the electorate, on account of their gender.” 
  • The Board in Cape Town as well as the National Board has a proud history of strong women leaders both in lay and professional capacities. We do not want their voices silenced. 
  • The Cape Board has been chaired by Moonyeen Castle and Li Boiskin who served two terms, in previous years. The National Board has been chaired by Marlene Bethlehem and Mary Kluk.
  • Currently, four women were voted onto the cape Board, Viv Anstey, Adrienne Jacobson and Leaza Cowen sitting alongside Daphne Miller from the Union of Jewish Women.  

This process has highlighted that there needs to be a change in the way we take issue in the community. By all means as your community representatives hold us accountable but it should be less about shame and litigation, and more about good faith, learning lessons and seeking opportunity. Quoting questionable phraseology such as “captured by extremists” and “religious agendas” creates a sensational story, fuels conspiracy theories and does little to promote good faith and respect.

Lay leaders give countless hours and years of dedication and service for no gain and very often at extreme personal sacrifice. How are we to attract the best community leaders when at the first sign of fault, a person’s character and reputation, built up over time are ruined?   

We accept diversity and urge all our community members and media to be mindful of the language it uses. Our community is no longer one-dimensional. There are differing opinions and points of view, comparable to Jewish communities worldwide. Within our diversity, there are opinions and outlooks which may never be bridged. We need to accept that. In addition, voters are likely to identify with those standing for public office, who best align with their outlook and understanding of Jewish communal life. And that is also okay.

UPDATE: SELIGSON REVIEW PANEL

Cape Town, 19 March 2018: On Friday 16 March 2018 an independent panel appointed by the Cape Council of the SAJBD (“the Cape Board”) reported on its investigation of allegations relating to the Cape Council elections held in 2017.

The Cape Board had appointed the panel in the interests of transparency. We had agreed to abide by its findings, and to implement its recommendations.  Milton Seligson SC chaired this panel along with Hilton Saven and Sally Frankental. We extend our appreciation to each of them for giving of their time and expertise.

As a community organisation, we are continually looking to enhance the openness of our processes, and the representativeness of our organisation.  This report provides a further opportunity for us to serve our community in a more efficient way.

We have called a short notice meeting of the SAJBD (Cape Council) to review the report in greater detail, and we will provide the community with a formal response to the report's findings following this meeting.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------ENDS 

Released by: 
Liza-Jane Saban
Head of Communications, SAJBD (Cape Council)
0835651906

South African Jewish Board of Deputies (Cape Council) responds to ANC Western Cape MP’s overtones of antisemitism in parliament.

Cape Town, 25 February 2018: On Friday 23 February 2018, African National Congress Member of the Western Cape Provincial Legislature Sharon Davids, followed a line of antisemitic oratory used for centuries as she implied that the water crisis in the Cape is a fabrication of Premier Helen Zille, the Democratic Alliance and pernicious influence of the Jews. Her remarks were prejudiced, discriminatory and in clear violation of Section 9 of the Constitution which guarantees freedom from discrimination on the basis of one's religion. 

Blaming minority groups for political gain at a time of crisis is not original, nor is it acceptable in our country. We have seen homophobic religious leaders blame members of the LGBTQI+ community for the present drought. And now antisemitic rhetoric has been added to this hateful discourse by government officials.

Rael Kaimowitz, Chairperson of the SAJBD (Cape Council) remarks “When elected officials speak of a “Jewish mafia” as responsible for the ongoing water crisis in Cape Town, they are following in the line of conspiracy theories used to persecute Jewish people for centuries.”  Kaimowitz, explains further, “This is not the first time that the ANC in the Western Cape has resorted to antisemitic conspiracy theories and divisive rhetoric in a quest to sew division between communities. In 2013 it was ANC Western Cape leader Marius Fransman, and we saw this behaviour repeated on Friday. We say to Ms. Davids, it is a fact that we are experiencing the worst drought ever recorded in our region, and this kind of vitriol does little to help the situation. While conspiracy theories have been circulating during this crisis,  it is irresponsible and unacceptable for a political leader to make such an utterance.

There is no place for hate in South Africa today. In the interest of transparency and understanding, we believe that a meeting with local ANC leadership and Ms Davids is imperative at this point.”

_______________________________________________

Released by:
Liza-Jane Saban (083 565 1906)

Head of Communications: South African Jewish Board of Deputies (Cape Council)

The Muslim Judicial Council (SA) and Al-Quds (SA) intended protest march to parliament

Cape Town, 13 December 2017: The final status of Jerusalem has always been one of the most difficult and sensitive questions in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  The Muslim Judicial Council (MJCSA) and Al-Quds (AQSA) has planned a protest march in Cape Town in reaction to US President Donald Trump’s announcement on Wednesday that his country was recognising Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and that it intended to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to the city. 

Section 17 of the South African Constitution says that everybody has the right to protest, peacefully and unarmed. And we know that this right is closely linked to other political rights in the Constitution, including freedom of expression and freedom of association.

To this point, the protestors are free to exercise their rights, but we caution that when a person conflates Jews, Israelis, and the Israeli government, it is antisemitic. When all Jews and all Israelis are held responsible for the actions of the Israeli government, it is antisemitic. When Jews would be denied the right to self-determination accorded to all other peoples, it is antisemitic. In the past, protesters at these marches have used language and chanted words such as “Palestine will be free from the river to the sea,” which appropriately interpreted by most people as a call for the eradication of Israel – and this is antisemitic.

As the South African Jewish Board of Deputies – Cape Council (SAJBD Cape), we believe that it is the collective responsibility of activists and organizers across the ideological spectrum to educate themselves and be informed.

The SAJBD Cape supports our government’s sentiments that ‘the principles of a two-state solution based on peaceful coexistence between the peoples of Israel and Palestine’ will be the long-lasting solution to the Israeli-Palestine issue. We believe that the South African government, now more than ever, has a unique role to play in facilitating this constructive dialogue to restart the peace process.

We are encouraged that this commitment was evident from the ANC NEC Subcommittee on International Relations at their press conference on the 6 December 2017, where they reconfirmed that the ANC will engage both Israelis and Palestinians, to ensure that they come together, united, to solve their problems, and find a long-lasting solution to the Israeli-Palestinian issue.

CRL Chairperson questions constitutionality of possible South African Embassy downgrade in Tel Aviv, Israel.

22 November 2017, Johannesburg: One of the considerations that will need to be taken, when the ANC International Relations Committee meets again at the upcoming elective conference in December, is whether the decision to downgrade the SA Embassy in Tel Aviv, is in fact constitutional. 

Speaking at a symposium recently, Ms Thoko Mkhwanazi Xaluva, Chairperson of the Cultural Religious and Linguistic Commission (CRL Commission), noted that were South Africa to downgrade its embassy in Israel it would unfairly impact on the ability of Africans Jews to practice and identify with their religious and cultural heritage. As such, it would probably be unconstitutional.

Prominent Jewish leader, Rabbi Dovid Hazdan, explained why a downgrading of the SA embassy would “have devastating and far-reaching impact on Jewish life in South Africa”.  He noted that Jews throughout the world were “inextricably bound to the Land of Israel”.  Rabbi Hazdan related how he had spent years in Israel studying for his Rabbinic ordination before returning to South Africa to practice as a religious leader and educator.  As in his case, Rabbi Hazdan said, Israel had been “the incubator, inspiration and source of instruction for Jewish Leadership in South Africa”.  His studies in Israel motivated him to return home to make a positive difference, for the Jewish community and for all of its people.

 

“It would not only be Jews that would be negatively affected by a downgrade” explains Linda Gobodo., “Christian pilgrimages to Israel bring the Holy Bible alive. A visit to the Holy Land, is the highest spiritual experience that any Bible-believing Christian could have.” Like many Christian churches and organisations, Gobodo’s organisation, Vuka Afrika arrange regular pilgrimages to Israel, and she herself was a frequent visitor. A downgrade would jeopardise that, since Israel may counter by shutting its embassy in South Africa, which means that South African Christians who visited Israel every week would have to apply and pay for visa’s into the country, making travel less accessible. 

South African and Israel needed to consider an upgrade, rather than a downgrade, said Apostle Gobodo. In agreement with Gobodo, National Director of the SAJBD, Wendy Kahn cautions that a possible downgrade would also make it impossible for South Africa to play a role in peace building in the region. She explains “This would be a tragedy, as South Africa’s experience of successfully negotiating a peaceful transition at home could be utilised in helping to peaceful resolve the Israeli-Palestinian dispute. The ANC, with its close relationship with the Palestinians, was also well placed to facilitate engagement if it were willing to build trust with the Israelis.”   

Irrespective of the situation in the Middle East, Ms Xaluva spoke about the importance of creating social cohesion and a spirit of national unity.  In order to attain that, it was imperative that everyone felt that they belonged. Ultimately, every decision of the government should fall within the Constitution.  No action should overtake the rights of people who live in our country. Otherwise we render the Constitution meaningless.

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Release By: 
Charisse Zeifert
Head of Communications: SABJD (National)
082 427 2788 / Charisse@sajbd.org