His passing reveals the best of a South African family and the worst of its government
By Lay of the Land Co-founders David E. Kaplan, Rolene Marks and Yair Chelouche.
The cruel murder on the 21 November 2021 in the Old City of Jerusalem of Eliyahu (“Eli”) Kay (25), a recent immigrant from South Africa has shocked the nation as it has the ex-pat community in Israel and the Jewish community in South Africa.
Who it has not shocked – which is shocking – is the political leadership in South Africa!
The fact that it took the South African government nearly a week – and only after disappointment and disgust was expressed from the Jewish leadership in press releases as well as letters to the media from dismayed members of the Jewish community – did the government finally – and one senses reluctantly – send a letter of condolence addressed to the South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) and with a request to pass it on to the Kay family.
This belated response fooled few.
The wording “…we are deeply saddened…” rings rather hollow from a government that is more receptive and responsive to the opinions and sentiments of Africa4Palestine than the SAJBD.
Formerly known as BDS South Africa, the organisation Africa4Palestine issued a statement following the brutal gunning down in cold blood of the 25-year-old former South African, describing Eli as a “South African mercenary” who was not murdered but “was killed in gunfire with the indigenous population” and that he “loved Apartheid – a disgrace to our South Africa.”
Yes, there IS a “disgrace to our South Africa”, but that disgrace is the ANC government that lends a warm ear to the disseminators of such vile accusations and lies as Africa4Palestine.
Compare South Africa’s belated reaction to the murder of Eli Kay with its embarrassingly hysterical response to its beauty queen, Lalela Mswane, participating in the 2021 Miss Universe pageant next month in Eilat, Israel.
Only last week, Lay of the Land published an article on the ANC government’s vehement opposition of South Africa participating in the beauty competition.
While this issue riled up the South African government influenced by the BDS movement, the brutal murder of a South African national on the other hand was met with initial official silence. The common denominator or explanation to both sets of calculated conduct by the ANC government was ISRAEL – the national homeland of the Jewish People.
After 2000 years of exile and persecution, Jews have a name for this – ANTISEMITISM.
Compare the week’s reticence of the South African government with the choice words of the representative of the Israeli government at the funeral of Eli in Jerusalem. Israel’s Minister of Diaspora Affairs, MK Nachman Shai – who in 2017 led a 5-member delegation of the Israeli Knesset (Parliament) to South Africa “to promote dialogue, understanding and cooperation between Israel and South Africa” – spoke of strangers to the Kay family who at the funeral, felt like family:
“So many people came today to say goodbye to you. Many never had the opportunity to meet you, who only learned your name yesterday and decided they wanted to be with you to say goodbye.”
In sad contrast, the only “goodbye” the South African government would truly be happy to say would be as a final farewell to the State of Israel! After all, compare South Africa’s ANC government downgrading its diplomatic relations with Israel – with no ambassador since 2018 – while in 2015, it welcomed to South Africa a Hamas delegation, even hosting it in the South African Parliament in Cape Town. This is the same Hamas that is committed to the destruction of Israel and who only this week was declared a terrorist organization by the UK, joining the US, the EU and other powers.
This is also the same Hamas that praised and took credit for the murder of Eli Kay. Official Hamas media identified the assailant Fadi Abu Shkhaydam as a “leader of the Hamas movement in East Jerusalem” saying “the operation” was designed to be a warning to Israel, which it said would “pay for the inequities” at the al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem.
Writing in the South African national daily, Business Day, Kenneth Mokgatlhe, makes the observation before posing the astute question:
“A hysterical SA government withdraws its support for a young woman to participate in the Miss Universe contest in Israel, but doesn’t say a word about a South African Jew killed by terrorists. Surely there is something wrong with this?”
Is this the direction South Africa is morally heading – associating and identifying with the murderers of Jews?
Clearly concerned at the government’s silence of a murder of a fellow South African by a Hamas gunman, the South African Zionist Federation released the following statement on the 22 November 2021:
“It has been over 24 hours since Eliyahu David Kay, a Jewish South African national who emigrated to Israel, was murdered in an act of terrorism in Jerusalem by a Palestinian gunman affiliated with Hamas. The South African Zionist Federation (SAZF) condemns the deafening silence from the South African Government and the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) on this issue. There has been no message of condolence to the family of the deceased, nor any public condemnation of this attack. DIRCO has in the past issued statements against terrorist attacks in the City of Jerusalem, and it is appropriate for them to do so now in respect of a South African national.
Hamas is an extremist organisation, as recently confirmed by the United Kingdom which designated Hamas as a terrorist organisation and has outlawed support for the group. This antisemitic and anti-Israel hate group gladly claimed responsibility for the killing of an innocent civilian and injuring others as the gunman opened fire in the Old City of Jerusalem.
We call on the South African Government to publicly condemn this heinous incident and to offer support and assistance to the family of the deceased.”
Finally, the ANC felt the heat and on the 25th November – after five emotionally-charged days following the horrendous murder – sent out its official letter of condolence. The circumstances surrounding South Africa’s response, reveals its antisemitic perspective, namely:
The killing of Jews when carried out by Palestinians is understandable.
Note the carefully selected wording in its belated letter of condolence.
“The South African government condemns the actions which led to the death of Mr. Kay…”
The implication in this cunningly crafted verbiage is that it could be the behaviour or “actions” of Israel’s Jews that is responsible for the death of Eli Kay. In other words, Israel is responsible for what happened to Eli Kay not the murderer, who will soon be honoured as a victim and martyr in Palestine and within some sectors in South Africa.
The SA government is sending a chilling message to its Jewish community and it’s a message that is being read loud and clear and may explain why in 2021 there will be more Olim (immigrants) to Israel from South Africa than over the past 25 years.
These Olim will be following in the heroic example of Eli Kay and his family, taking a journey that is securing the Jewish state for all eternity.
In the words of Nachman Shai at the funeral:
“Eli, you died a hero, an example to us all.”
While the mission of Lay of the Land (LotL) is to provide a wide and diverse perspective of affairs in Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish world, the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by its various writers are not necessarily ones of the owners and management of LOTL but of the writers themselves. LotL endeavours to the best of its ability to credit the use of all known photographs to the photographer and/or owner of such photographs (0&EO