A letter to Jonathan Shapiro (Zapiro) concerning his caricature of Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng published in The Daily Maverick on Thursday, 2nd July 2020.
By Stephen Schulman
Dear Jonathan Shapiro,
I have long admired your artistic talents in caricaturing even though I have at times disagreed with their contents and message. Still, we live in an age of democracy and freedom of expression and you and I, like others, have the right to express their views. I now wish to exercise that right and take issue with your scurrilous caricature of the Chief Justice of your country South Africa.
Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng, a devout Christian and a respected personage with a long history of fighting for human rights, had actually dared to express his personal beliefs that were anathema to and ran counter to the official oft trumpeted biased anti -Israel mantra of the ANC leadership and you included: simply calling for a more even handed approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and recognizing the validity of the existence of the State of Israel. Had he adopted the well worn official line of vilifying and demonizing the Jewish state, encomiums would have been showered upon him, but with his thoughtful and measured words he had actually rocked the boat and gravy train and in so doing had incurred the opprobrium of and brought the full wrath of the political establishment, its faithful followers and sycophants down on his head.
The age old adage states: “A picture is worth a thousand words!” In your caricature of this august gentleman, you have pulled out all the stops, using all your talent to besmirch and humiliate him. Firstly, you have resorted to the well-worn sordid trick of mocking and distorting his name with the pejorative “Moegoe Moegoe“ – making him sound like some bothersome insect while knowing only too well that Moegoe is South African slang for “a stupid person, coward, or weakling”. Shame on you Jonathan Shapiro!
For his sins of calling for a non-lopsided approach to the Israeli- Palestinian conflict, you chose to label the Chief Justice the “Chief Zionist” – a venomous assault on his credibility and objectivity. Furthermore, he now has the Jerusalem dividing wall like a vise on his head, squeezing his cranium, addling his brain and distorting his vision. If you, Jonathan Shapiro, see Zionism as synonymous with this wall, allow me to enlighten you. Prior to its construction, there was a wave of bombings and terrorist attacks in Jerusalem. Many innocent men, women and children whose sole crime was being Jewish and living in Israel, were murdered, maimed, disfigured and blinded by terrorists and many families destroyed – many of them by suicide bombers – coming from the Palestinian Authority that consequently rewarded them for their nefarious deeds by granting the families of theses murderers and “martyrs” a generous monthly pension – the official ‘pay for slay’ policy! The suicide bombers, as promised by their Muslim religious leaders, would get their own special reward by ascending to the great celestial brothel where seventy-two non- menstruating virgins (Did they work in shifts?) were waiting for each one.
Was the wall – a necessary evil – effective?
The answer is a resoundingly positive one as since its construction, the number of terrorist attacks has plummeted and many lives have been saved and much suffering averted. The logic is quite clear: Had there been no terror attacks on Jews, condoned and sponsored by the Palestinian Authority, then the dividing wall would not have been necessary.
Now, Jonathan Shapiro, I ask you in the name of moral consistency, why do you not condemn other walls that have been erected? To name a few: Turkey illegally invaded Cyprus and built a wall dividing the island and in its construction caused much suffering to Greek Cypriots who were forcibly evicted from their homes, losing their livelihoods. Egypt built a wall to separate the Gaza Strip from its territory at the cost of destroying many homes of Gaza residents. Have you used your pen to voice your indignation or have you with double standards conveniently ignored them?
In your caricature, you labeled the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) a myth. A myth can be defined as a narrative of fictitious events without any foundation explaining certain phenomenon and that is sometimes used to propagate certain ideologies. You have therefore decided to place the Hebrew Bible in the same category as the Greek myths – entertaining but devoid of any value or truth whatsoever. In other words, you have negated the bedrock of the Jewish faith, its deep connection to the land of Israel and made a mockery of the religion. Many of your cartoons have reinforced this point.
Nevertheless, whilst publicly besmirching the religion you were born into, you have not been averse to using the Jewish community of Cape Town and shamelessly exploiting its services. I believe you chose to send your children to Herzlia, a Jewish Day School and had no qualms in requesting your mother to be placed in Highlands House, a Jewish home for the aged. In saying one thing and doing another, it is pretty clear that moral consistency is not your strong point. That, Jonathan Shapiro, in simple English is called: moral hypocrisy.
About the writer:
Stephen Schulman is a graduate of the South African Jewish socialist youth movement Habonim, who immigrated to Israel in 1969 and retired in 2012 after over 40 years of English teaching. He was for many years a senior examiner for the English matriculation and co-authored two English textbooks for the upper grades in high school. Now happily retired, he spends his time between his family, his hobbies and reading to try to catch up on his ignorance.
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
A Christian perspective over the furor in South Africa following the Chief Justice expressing understanding and advocating a balance approach to the Israel-Palestinian conflict
By Rev Reuben Chapasuka
Following the participation of the Chief Rabbi of South Africa, Warren Goldstein and the Chief Justice of South Africa, Mogoeng Mogoeng in a webinar on June 23, moderated by Israel’s English daily, Jerusalem Post’s Editor-in-Chief, Yaakov Katz, I was asked in my capacity as a pastor and Executive President of the Cape to Cairo Israel Mission to answer a number of written questions submitted to me by Cape Town’s daily, the Cape Argus for an article. I answered them fully. Clearly the paper was not happy with my answers as it declined to publish.
My concern is that South Africa’s ruling ANC government may move to remove the Chief Justice from his office over his expression of his personal and Christian views of support for both Israel and the Palestinians. I feel that it is important that my voice as a Christian be heard. Believing that all sides should be heard, Lay of the Land has agreed to my request to publish the Cape Argus questions and my answers, appearing hereunder.
Why do you feel Chief Justice Mogoeng was justified in his remarks and why have you have chosen to support it?
“I fully endorse his views because he spoke not from the bench but as a devout South African Christian. There is nothing controversial in what the Chief Justice said. He expressed that South Africa would have greater influence if it adopted a more balanced approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. That is a fair comment. I too believe that South Africa can play a meaningful and possibly unique role in bringing the Israelis and Palestinians closer to the table. Some members of the judiciary have also spoken out about their personal convictions concerning the same issue, but they were not subjected to this same condemnation. The problem centers on who is advising the ANC on its diplomatic relations with Israel which by the way, our country still maintains, albeit at a recently downgraded level.
It is ironic that the Chief Justice would have received tremendous praise from these very same vocal critics had he instead chosen to denounce Israel. Clearly his ‘offense’ was not that he was expressing on issues areas outside his legal purview; but that his views upset the #Africa4Palestine crowd and their following in the ANC.
The Chief Justice is not denying Palestinian rights. I am a Christian, a pastor, a husband, a father, a marriage counsellor and also a leader of an organization whose mandate in the continent and beyond the borders of Africa is to proclaim Africa’s biblical connection to the Holy Land. I am familiar with the suffering of people not only in Africa but in countries beyond African borders that have rejected the biblical mandate about the land of Israel in their respective countries. As it is written in Genesis 12:3, and which the Chief Justice espoused: “I will bless those who bless you and I will curse those who curse you.” Therefore, I fully endorse the views of Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng because he spoke not from his Judicial bench but as a South African Christian, a pastor, a father figure who is passionate to see God blessing this country. Today, some of our children who were born in 1994 did not finish high school. Some of those who finished cannot even read and write. Is that not a curse? And some of those who finished their studies from Universities are not employed to date. Is that not a curse?
Here is a man praying for South Africa, to see South African youth walking with God and enjoying the fruit of the land of their forefathers. What they must do is simple; pray for the peace of Jerusalem (Psalm 122). Hardly a week after the president called for a NationalDay of Prayer for May 31, what where they expecting? Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem and South Africa will prosper.
Thus, from my perspective as a clergyman, bound by the biblical mandate, the Chief Justice is entitled to have expressed what he did as a Christian of conscience and in a country that today proudly proclaims the freedom of speech.
As a practicing Christian, Judge Mogoeng’s praying for peace in the Holy Land was not a political statement. It does not mean that he is choosing one side over the other. It means that he hopes for peace in the region. As he said in the past: “I can only love. I love Israel. I love the Jews. I love the Palestinians. I love everybody. I don’t hate anybody… How can you condemn me for asking God for peace?”
What is your response to #Africa4Palestine calling the Chief Justice’s remarks an indictment and disservice to the many Christians in South Africa?
“Firstly let us note on some of the statements of Africa4Palestine on the issue:
“The Chief Justice conflates the modern political entity, the racist State of Israel that was created in 1948 with the Biblical Land of Israel. In the process he does a disservice to the Palestinian Christians who are descendants of the first followers of Jesus Christ.
He insults the Christians of Bethlehem, the birthplace of Christ, and those who live in Jerusalem, who are currently living under a brutal Israeli occupation – deemed unlawful by South Africa together with most other countries and the UN.”
Africa4Palestine is a radical anti-Israel lobby that throughout its existence has resorted to every possible distortion of fact in order to demonize and defame the Jewish state and incite hatred against it. This is evident in their latest outrageous claims that today’s Palestinians are descendants of the original Jews, and that Jesus himself was a Palestinian. As such, it is just another racist label against the Jewish people by this self-styled “human rights” group, which in its previous incarnation as BDS-SA was guilty of provoking numerous ugly anti-Semitic incidents.
Africa4Palestine’s views on the State of Israel are devoid of truth, biblically, historically, and also with regard to present reality.
The formation of the modern State of Israel came after the passing on 29 November 1947 of the UN General Assembly Resolution 181 with 33 votes in favour and 13 against. Clearly, the nations of the world deemed this action just and there was no hint of racism perceived.
The Chief Justice is absolutely correct as the Biblical Land of Israel and the modern State of Israel are one and the same geographical piece of land, albeit now smaller, parts of which we all know as Judea and Samaria. The name Palestine is fairly new and was only introduced by the Romans when they suppressed the Bar Kokhba revolt, a rebellion of the Jews in the Roman province of Judea. This was a third Jewish-Roman war and occurred around 135 CE, a full century after the death of Christ; and further evidence is that the name Palestine does not appear anywhere in the Bible. Through instruments such as the Balfour Declaration and the UN, the Jewish people have been restored to their ancestral land from which they were expelled during Rome’s conquest and occupation. Why is it so difficult for some people who also lost their land through colonial conquests in Africa to empathize with the restoration of the Jews to their ancestral land? We draw strength from this restoration because it is both morally justified and the fulfilment of biblical prophecies as detailed by our prophets including Isaiah and Ezekiel. The presence of Jews in Israel can never be termed an occupation unless we, as Africans, are willing to concede that our historical struggles for self-determination and reclaiming our ancestral land also amount to an occupation.”
An Inconvenient Truth
In conclusion, while Israel, like all other countries is not perfect, it does not practice institutionalized racism.
The Bible records that the earliest followers of Jesus Christ were His fellow Jews living in Judea and Samaria; and Gentiles who lived predominantly in the Ancient Near East and as far as modern day Greece, Turkey and Ethiopia. An inconvenient truth is the fact that there are very few Christians left in Jericho and Bethlehem – the birthplace of Jesus – as they are an oppressed minority in these areas which are administered by the Palestinian Authority. Their populations are rapidly declining. On the other hand, Christians living in Israel are thriving and growing. This contrast of the experiences and destinies of the Christian communities living in the territories administered by the PA with those living in Israel, should speak volumes!
Anyone who wants to witness true democracy and see the true colours of Africa4Palestine you may come with me to Jerusalem after the lockdown. I will be your tour guide.
For the sake of salvation and the social and spiritual emancipation of the youth in Africa, I must state that any and all Bible believing Christians have a duty to speak out against Replacement Theology and the revision of Jewish history in Israel because it seeks to destroy the very foundations of our Christian faith. Perhaps we should not be surprised as Psalm 83:4 foretold that there would come a day when some people would say:
“Come, let us destroy them as a nation, so that Israel’s name is remembered no more.”
With God as our father, we will not allow it.
About the writer
Rev Reuben Chapasuka MA.Th (UP) – Executive President of Cape to Cairo Israel Mission. He is the Rector of Cape to Cairo Christian Academy which is currently in operation in Africa and Madagascar (online Platform) and is a Senior Pastor at Liberty Christian Fellowship Ministries. 291 Louis Trichardt Street Mayville Pretoria 0084
* Title picture: Chief Rabbi of South Africa Warren Goldstein and Chief Justice of the Republic of South Africa Mogoeng Mogoeng (photo credit: COURTESY / REUTERS/MIKE HUTCHINGS).
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
Cape Canaveral is synonymous with “We have a liftoff” but the “liftoff” of Israel’s Amos-17 satellite by Ramat Gan-based company Spacecom on the 6 August at Cape Canaveral, Florida was also a “lift off” for Africa too.
To address the ‘digital divide’, back in 2015, the tech giant launched Internet.org – a non-profit initiative – that would bring together technology leaders, nonprofit organizations and local communities to provide Internet access to the most remote regions of the world.
The Now Generation
It is so easy to take services today for granted that were once thought a luxury. One prime example is the INTERNET that is essential to growing the knowledge we have and sharing it with others.
In almost everything we do today, we use the Internet from ordering a pizza, buying a computer or printer, sharing a precious moment with a friend or sending a photograph over instant messaging. Before the Internet, if you wanted to keep up with the news, you had to walk down to the newsstand in the morning and buy a newspaper reporting what had happened the previous day.
Now everything is instant – emphasis on the – NOW!
While for many of us it’s a huge part of our everyday lives, in much of the world, many still do not have internet access. Internet.org’s goal is bringing internet access and the benefits of connectivity to regions in the world that doesn‘t have them – notably AFRICA.
Imagine the difference an accurate weather report could make for an African farmer planting crops, or the power of an encyclopedia for a child in a remote village without textbooks.
However no less important is what millions across the African continent could contribute when the world can hear their voices.
The more we connect, the better our world.
One is reminded of the Lionel Richie/Michael Jackson lyrics of the 1985 charity single classic for Africa “We Are The World”:
“There comes a time
When we heed a certain call
When the world must come together as one
There are people dying
Oh, and it’s time to lend a hand to life
The greatest gift of all…”
It’s time the ‘Now Generation’ includes the continent of Africa and Israel is responding in addressing the Digital Divide.
Built by Boeing, AMOZ-17 will be located at 17° East where it will reach across the African continent, providing satellite communication services including broadband and high-speed data services to Africa as well as the Middle East and Europe.
It will be the most technologically advanced satellite over Africa, “providing extensive C-Band HTS capabilities, Ka-Band and Ku-Band to a range of markets and combining broad regional beams and high throughput spot beams to maximize throughput and spectral efficiency,” says Spacecom.
It will change the face of the continent which suffers from snail-pace internet speeds and inadequate infrastructure. According to a 2018 joint report by the World Wide Web Foundation, the Alliance for Affordable Internet, and the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women known as UN Women, internet penetration across the African continent stands at 22 percent.
Sunny Days Ahead
To get connectivity in Africa via Amos-17, all that will be required said the director of business and technology ventures at Spacecom Eran Shapiro, speaking last month at a conference, is “a simple solar-powered terminal.”
With no shortage of sun, all of Africa will be ‘connected’.
Quoted in the Times of Israel, Shapiro said “Africa is a huge continent with the fastest growing population in the world, forecast to reach 2.5 billion in 2050. It also has the highest percentage of young people, with about half of its current population under 18. The continent has a growing demand for content, with the number of households using digital TV growing some 20% year over year to 2022.”
However, the continent suffers from a lack of internet access infrastructure with vast areas either underserved or completely not connected to any communication infrastructure.
This is set to soon change and it will be as easy as
“a simple solar-powered terminal.”
The Israeli satellite will be the first over Africa that will provide “high-throughput satellite services (HTS) as well as C-band frequencies, which allow high availability of service,” said Shapiro. It will be suited to the African climate and send a single beam per country, as opposed to numerous narrow beams provided by other common HTS satellites. “Its digital payload will provide higher service availability and easier customer adaptation and expansion,” the company said, and will be able to adapt to existing C-Band terminals on the ground, so there will be no need to upgrade equipment.
The Israel Connection
The $250 million Amos-17 is expected to operate for at least 20 years. Spacecom CEO David Pollack told reporters last week that the company hopes to recover that cost “in about six or seven years. And then, because it’s 20 years, we have hopefully a long life to make profit,” according to a CBS News report.
Spacecom has a number of already signed agreements with various African broadcasters, notably Nigeria-based IDS Africa. IDS Africa will use the satellite to broadcast Channels TV news programming throughout Nigeria as well as to the Nigerian diaspora in Europe.
Founded 23 years ago in Israel, Spacecom is traded on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange. The $250 million Amos-17 weighs 6.5 tons and will be the length of three buses.
Evolution On A Treadmill
From the onset of the agrarian revolution many thousands of years BC, “it took took 6,000 years to double the world’s GDP,” writes Jean Philbert Nsengimana in Forbes. With the Industrial Revolution kicking in around 1760, it took less than 100 years and with the computing revolution in the latter half of the 20th century, the time was reduced to less than 15 years.
The Fourth Industrial Revolution, continues Nsengimana, “digitally smart factories, cities and entire economies connected to the Internet – has demonstrated that the rate of change will only accelerate.”
While Nsengimana laments that while much of Africa may have missed the opportunities of the earlier revolutions, the continent that is home to 16.3% of humanity but also home to only about 4% of global GDP, “cannot afford – nor does it have to – miss out on the possibilities of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.”
“We Are The World”
With a unity of purpose, if the African continent connects everyone and empowers the young generation, experts believe it could bridge the development gap with the rest of the world in around a decade.
By 2030, Africa will have the largest potential workforce. What if every one of them was connected, digitally skilled and an empowered digital consumer and or producer?
With Amos-17 in the sky above, Israel has its eye on Africa and ready to extend its hand.
Originally from South Africa, Paul Hirschson returned to Africa as Israeli ambassador to Senegal and six other West African countries. Following his tenure, he reflects on the experience with Lay Of The Land.
By Rolene Marks and David E. Kaplan
Seated in a bustling coffee shop in Tel Aviv Ambassador Paul Hirschson was far removed from downtown Dakar. Nevertheless, like Tel Aviv, Hirschson will tell you “Dakar is a cosmopolitan city whose identity is based on its melting pot of peoples.” Looking around at the packed tables of animated Tel Avivians besides us, it was hard not to recognise a similarity of ethnic diversity.
Housing 25% of the country’s population and 80% of its economic activity, “Dakar is Senegal’s veritable engine room,’ he says.
So is Tel Aviv Israel’s engine room!
Culture, climate and a history of overcoming adversity – “there are a lot of similarities.”
Dakar is one of Africa’s great cultural and economic hubs. It is also home to a unique MASHAV-supported project helping Senegalese learn drip irrigation. Before returning to Israel at the end of his tenure as ambassador, Hirschson visited agricultural projects Israel was supporting, such as small farms east of Dakar in the plains of Senegal, nestled beneath the giant baobab trees.
“Agriculture is the anchor of what we are doing there,” says Hirschson.
“There is no country more perfectly poised to help Africa than the State of Israel,” says Hirschson, who was Israel’s man in Dakar from August 2015 to August 2018. It was an active period of diplomatic outreach as an increasing number of African countries warmed to the State of Israel. “Bilateral ties between Israel and countries on the continent that the Jewish state had previously no established relations are growing,” he says. This is born out by Israel recently opening its twelfth Embassy in Africa, this time in Kigali, Rwanda and rumours abound of the possible establishing of formal ties with Sudan.
“Such relations are of mutual benefit,” he says. For Israel it represents a strategic outreach but for West Africa “we are able to provide Israel’s groundbreaking technologies in agriculture, cyber security, counterterrorism, medicine, water management and other fields. We help provide much needed solutions to many of the challenges facing the continent today.”
The history of relations between Israel and the African continent is both heartwarming and complex.
It would seem almost natural that African countries would seek to build bridges with Israel. “Many of these countries have a historical and political trajectory that mirrors that of the Jewish State,” points out Hirschson noting that it was the legendary Golda Meir, Israel’s first female Prime Minister who recognized as Israel’s Minister of Foreign Affairs in the 1950s, the great potential for Israel to help Africa.
“Meir recognized that African countries and Israel share similar tragic pasts, having endured multiple wars and struggles for independence against foreign powers who ruled their ancestral homelands,” he says.
Listening to Hirschson, we were reminded of Theodore Herzl, the founding father of modern Zionism also wrote about what he saw as two peoples whose mutual histories of slavery and colonisation mirrored each other.
“There is still one other question arising out of the disaster of nations which remains unsolved to this day, and whose profound tragedy, only a Jew can comprehend. This is the African question.Just call to mind all those terrible episodes of the slave trade, of human beings who, merely because they were black, were stolen like cattle, taken prisoner, captured and sold. Their children grew up in strange lands, the objects of contempt and hostility because their complexions were different. I am not ashamed to say, though I may expose myself to ridicule for saying so, that once I have witnessed the redemption of the Jews, my people, I wish also to assist in the redemption of the Africans.”
It is well over 100 years that Herzl wrote these empathetic words and “Israel is proud to be in Africa not to exploit but to enrich,” says Hirschson.
While today relations between Israel and the continent are strengthening, it seems that in West Africa “something quite extraordinary” is taking place reflected by the visits of Israel’s Prime Minister, Benyamin Netanyahu, over the last few years.
In 2016, Netanyahu became the first Israeli premier to visit Africa in nearly three decades, with a trip to Uganda, Ethiopia, Kenya and Rwanda. A year later he attended a meeting in Liberia of heads of state from the West African regional group, Ecowas. Regrettably, an Israel-Africa summit that was supposed to take place in Togo in October 2017 was cancelled but the mood is changing reflected in the statement by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu when
Chad and Israel renewed diplomatic ties describing it as:
“a partnership… to forge a prosperous and secure future for our countries”.
Ambassador Hirschson has strong ties and a passion for the African continent. Born and raised in South Africa to a family that played an active part in the struggle against Apartheid, Hirschson has an affinity to the people of the continent.
He is most proud of his grandfather, Issy Wolfson who was an anti-Apartheid activist and a trade unionist and “the only union representative to stand in a parliamentary election.” Growing up in a family at the forefront of the anti-Apartheid movement, “has had a huge impact on me; it gets into the DNA.”
“Africa and Islam meet in a harmonious way in Senegal,” says Hirschson, a country which has had a turbulent and troubling history. “For 300 years, slaves were exported from a small island off its coast called Goree, where visitors can see the dank cells where people were imprisoned until shipped to the New World. The “Door Of No Return” still there, says it all! But from this tragic past has arisen a success story, a democracy in West Africa with a unique form of localised Islam and a colourful local culture.”
Hirschson says, he met with many in Africa “who identify Israelis with the West but are acutely aware that we are not European.” This impacts on their understanding and “although Muslims in Senegal and West Africa may have an affinity for the Islamic world and the Palestinian cause, they differentiate it from relations with Israel.”
Now, with Senegal last year joining the UN Security Council as a non-permanent member for the next two years – alongside Egypt, Japan, Ukraine and Uruguay – “it is potentially a very important ally for Israel.” The Embassy in Senegal is also responsible for six other countries in West Africa – Guinea, Gambia, Sierra Leone, Guinea Bissau and Cape Verde.
Hirschson explains that Israel is able “to have a unique conversation” with Africa. There is an explanation of ‘salvation’ why Africa became known for Jews as the “new exile from exile”.
“What few people are aware is that when Jews fled from the Spanish peninsular during the horrendous persecution of the Inquisition of the 15th century, it was to the African continent they first took refuge; this is why there were such large Jewish communities in north Africa from Morocco to Egypt.” When introducing himself in Africa, Hirschson would relate that “our first engagement with Africa was 3000 years ago when we were slaves in Egypt. The second was some 2500 years ago when the Iraqis (Babylonians) conquered our first state and a part of my people escaped south and were given refuge in Ethiopia. Our third engagement was 500 years ago when we were exiled from Europe during the Spanish Inquisition. And our fourth engagement with Africa is Israel’s outreach today as a nation state that is independent. Today, Israelis live all over Africa. Africans hear the same story as our story of being slaves, conquered, colonised, exiled, and regaining independence in modern times. It’s the same narrative.”
Situated in one of the most neglected regions in the world, Senegal as with many parts of West Africa are in dire need of both humanitarian and economic aid. During the 2014 Ebola crisis that placed thousands at risk, the tiny state of Israel was according to a statement by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in New York, the world’s largest per-capita contributor to halting the spread of Ebola in West Africa.
“We have the ability to win hearts and minds in places like Senegal,” says Hirschson. “Unfortunately, it sometime takes outbreaks of diseases or natural catastrophes like floods, landslides and earthquakes for the world to notice the scope of our contributions.”
In Guinea, with whom “Israel renewed diplomatic relations in 2016, we built in 2017 an Intensive Care Unit in an economically depressed neighborhood and ran an agricultural training course for Guinean agronomists in Israel.”
During the same period, “We established the only Dialysis Center in Sierra Leone and was the first country in the world to deliver humanitarian aid to Sierra Leone following the devastating mudslides which killed over 1000 people in 2017.” In 2015, “Twenty-five children from The Gambia and in 2018 the same number from Senegal were sent to Israel for life-saving heart treatment.”
Good relations with Africa can be mutually beneficial and “there is little doubt of an increasing appreciation of Israel by Africans. It is appreciated that Israel was the fourth country in the world to recognize Senegal’s independence.”
Ambassador Hirschson asserts that Israel is “a perfect match” for Africa with agricultural, water, security and smart phone technology.
“Our farming conditions are almost an exact mirror image of the Senegalese farms. It is almost ‘copy & paste’,” says Hirschson.
“We built hundreds of smallhold-family farms in Senegal and trained 1500 family farmers in modern agricultural technologies and systems.”
In recent years, Israel’s expertise in security technology is increasing sought. With the defeat of ISIS, “many of its members are returning home to Africa and pose a threat to fledgling democracies and the stability of fragile states,” says Hirschson. “This provides a fertile ground for terror, and Israel has the proven experience, expertise and technology to help. African countries are aware of the threat of fundamentalism, and poverty creates perfect conditions for extremism to flourish.”
An encouraging development, “is that some countries have come to understand that they can have friendly ties with both Israel and Palestinians; that it is no more a case of one or the other. This is a valuable lesson that more developed countries around the world can heed.”
Looking at Israel “through the lens of self-improvement and not only politics is mutually beneficial, and the next big challenge will be getting farming done right and hopefully convert farmers into entrepreneurs,” says the ambassador.
“Netanyahu’s warm embrace of Africa,” asserts Hirschson, “coupled with the growing needs of African countries is starting to bear real fruit.
With shared narratives and a growing affinity for each other, it makes total sense that the next great love affair with Israel is born in Africa.
*Feature picture: Having A Field Day. An animated Ambassador Paul Hirschson at a small farm project supported by Israel in Senegal. (photo credit: Seth J. Frantzman)
In South Africa there are a number of statuary bodies independent of government, officialdom and other outside influences, which determine that the fabric of democracy is kept intact in the daily business of a democratic country. The Press Ombudsman is one, whose role in the print media is to determine whether the actions of a newspaper are in line with good journalistic practice. Complaints regarding the practices of print media can be reported by the general public to the Press Ombudsman, who determines whether a complaint should be brought before the South African Press Council.
The Press Council of South Africa of which all newspapers are members accepts a Press Code that will guide the South African Press Ombudsman and the South African Press Appeals Panel to reach decisions on complaints from the public after publication of the relevant material.
Furthermore, the Press Council of South Africa is constituted as a self-regulatory body with a mechanism to provide impartial, expeditious and cost-effective arbitration to settle complaints arising from this Code.
The powers of the Ombudsman include an ability to censure and fine newspapers found to be in breach of this ethical code.
On 25 October 2012 I believed I had found cause to complain about a story that appeared in the Cape Times headlined Apartheid policies: Israeli poll reveals a ‘sick society’.
My complaint centred around the fact that despite having pointed out to the Cape Times that the newspaper of origin, Ha’aretz, and its journalist, Gideon Levy, had retracted and apologised for an incorrect report, the Cape Times not only refused to do the same, but that it also refused to publish my and other rebuttal letters on its letters page leading the Press Ombudsman to later describe its action as “perpetuating a lie.”
The story, originally written by Catrina Swart of The Independent (in Britain), claimed that a new poll had “revealed that a majority of Israeli Jews believed that the Jewish state practices ‘apartheid’ against Palestinians…” It continued to quote some other statistics, emanating from the poll.
Swart was reporting on an article by Gideon Levy published in the Israeli publication Ha’aretz.
The story read: “A new poll has revealed that a majority of Israeli Jews believe that the Jewish state practices ‘apartheid’ against Palestinians… That many Jews believe that Israel has adopted ‘apartheid’ policies… Nearly 70 percent of those questioned would object to the 2.5 million Palestinians living in the West Bank obtaining the vote if Israel was to annex the Palestinian territory, suggesting that they effectively endorse an apartheid regime.”
Following the publication of Levy’s story, Ha’aretz published a correction the day after stating: “CLARIFICATION: The original headline for this piece, ‘Most Israelis support an apartheid regime in Israel,’ did not accurately reflect the findings of the Dialog poll. The question to which most respondents answered in the negative did not relate to the current situation, but to a hypothetical situation in the future.”
Levy wrote in an added apology: “My sin was to write: ‘The majority doesn’t want Arabs to vote for the Knesset, having Arab neighbours at home or Arab students at school. The truth is different…This article is meant to fix a few mistakes. They shouldn’t have happened; we must acknowledge them, apologise for them and fix them. They were not made intentionally…Now is the time to make things right.”
My complaint was that the Cape Times should have published these corrections.
The Press Ombudsman found inter alia “…its [the Cape Times] intro was materially the same as that of the headline in Ha’aretz (which the latter publication has corrected). The newspaper should therefore do the same; it should also have reported Levy’s own correction. I believe that the Cape Times should have:
known about the corrections; and
“The Cape Times is in breach of Art. 1.6 of the Press Code that states: ‘A publication should make amends for publishing information or comment that is found to be inaccurate by printing, promptly and with appropriate prominence, a retraction, correction or explanation.’ This goes for the corrections by Ha’aretz as well as Levy.
“The Cape Times is:
cautioned for not making the same corrections as that of Ha’aretz and Levy; and
directed to publish these corrections…”
The Cape Times carried out this instruction and published the Ombudsman’s findings in full on page 7 of its April 19, 2013 edition.
We should be grateful that the position of the SA Press Ombudsman operates effectively as a diligent watchdog over the interests of the general public.
Unfortunately, this did not stop the Cape Times and other newspapers of the Independent group from persevering with their “fake” news and provocative propaganda. Over the intervening years I have had cause to cross swords with its journalists and editors. The consequences have been instructive. One has been that the group no longer subjects itself to the discipline of the Press Ombudsman and thereby frees itself from any responsibility to the truth.
About the author
Rodney Mazinter, a Cape Town-based businessman, writer, poet and author, has held many leadership positions within a wide range of Jewish/South African, sporting, educational, service and communal bodies, and currently serves as vice-chairman of the South African Zionist Federation in the Western Cape.
Has Jan Smuts’ Great-Grandchild, Philip Weyers, hit the nail on the head?
By Peter Bailey
As we commemorate Yom HaShoah, in memory of the six million Jews who perished in the Holocaust it is appropriate to readdress the question frequently asked:
“Why it is that Jews have been singled out for a particular kind of hatred by diverse groups of people over two millennia?”
There are, and have been many prominent individuals, such as Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and British Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who appear to hate Jews for no good reason, other than their Jewishness. However, the establishment of the State of Israel 70 years ago has proved a game changer. No longer do we only witness acts of anti-Semitism against Jewish individuals and property, but the Jewish State of Israel has become a prime target. The world can almost be divided into those countries that are vehemently opposed to Israel, denying its right to exist, and those that tolerate its existence for political expediency. The reality is that Jews in general, and Israel in particular, have few genuine friends in the international community, which brings me back to my opening question as to why that should be.
During my research, I come across long forgotten articles or facts dating back many decades, elements of which are as relevant today, as they were when published. One such article, was published on 8 February 1920, by no less a person than British master statesman, Sir Winston Churchill, titled ‘Zionism versus Bolshevism’ – A Struggle for the Soul of the Jewish People’. The date of the article is important, as it follows a few years after the publication of the Balfour Declaration by the British Government and mere weeks after the Treaty of Versailles, the terms for the end of WWI, came into effect.
Included in the Treaty of Versailles was the Balfour Declaration, giving the establishment of a Jewish Homeland the international stamp of approval.
Palestine had a population of about 800,000 when Churchill wrote his article, while the global Jewish population stood at around 14 million, from which we can infer that Churchill saw Palestine, at best, as a symbolic home for the Jewish people. Certainly not the independent State of Israel, often referred to as the Innovation Nation – a world leader in science and technology. Despite his brilliance and acknowledged foresight, he would be amazed to find that Israel is now a fully-fledged state where more than half the global Jewish population of about 15 million reside.
The Palestine that Churchill referred to was the whole of what became Mandate Palestine, which currently comprises Jordan, Israel and the disputed territory, which was illegally annexed by Jordan on 24 April 1950, and renamed the West Bank, while modern Israel comprises only 17% of the original area that was intended to become Mandate Palestine.
Churchill would be truly amazed that such a small area today sustains such a large percentage of world Jewry.
Anyway, I forwarded the article to my good friend in South Africa, Philip Weyers – a great-grandson of General Jan Christiaan Smuts, former Prime Minister of South Africa and a great friend of Winston Churchill the two having first met during the Anglo Boer War of 1899, albeit on opposing sides, and then as fellow members of the British Imperial War cabinet during both WWI and WWII. Together with British Prime Minister Lloyd George and Foreign Minister Arthur Balfour, they shared a common belief in the importance and necessity of the establishment of a Jewish Homeland in Palestine. Smuts played an important role in the wording of the Balfour Declaration and its acceptance by the Imperial War Cabinet.
The tone of Churchill’s article is set by the opening statement which reads:
“Some people like Jews and some do not; but no thoughtful man can doubt the fact that they are beyond all question the most formidable and the most remarkable race which has ever appeared in the world.”
The reply from Philip Weyers after he had read the article, really got me thinking that he might well have hit the nail on the head. Philip had this to say:
“Interesting that Churchill did not think Palestine would be big enough to accommodate ‘more than a fraction’ of the world’s Jews. I reckon he did not know about the resourcefulness of Jews to transform desert into very habitable areas. The world will continue to underestimate Jews as they have done for millennia, and when the Jews rise above expectations the response is often pure anti-Semitism.”
Could this be it – when Jews “rise above expectations” – that it is all about jealously’?
It is certainly no accident that twelve Israelis have won Nobel Prizes, three for peace efforts, while the rest for literature, science, medicine and economics. The development of many of the scientific and medical innovations that currently prolong or improve the quality of millions of lives daily – an ongoing process since modern Israel came into being 70 years ago.
During the same period, the surrounding Arab states – with about 430 million inhabitants – have managed to produce six Nobel Laureates, four of them for the peace that perpetually eludes the Middle East.
Let me end off by saying that by replacing the hatred and vitriol with an acceptance of Israel as a fixture in the region, rather than the never ending threats to annihilate the country and its people, would allow Israel to offer so much that could enhance the lives of the millions citizens throughout the Middle East and beyond.
Peter Bailey, who grew up in the South African gold mining town of Brakpan, first appeared in print at the age of 10 with two poems appearing in the SA Outspan and Farmer’s Weekly. He speaks extensively on the Jewish contribution to South African military history and is the author of ‘Smuts, the Anonymous Figure Behind the Balfour Declaration’ and ‘Street Names In Israel’.
Obsessed with Israel, South Africa ‘Downgrades’ into the abyss of absurdity
By David E. Kaplan
While South Africa speaks of downgrading its diplomatic ties with Israel, smarter countries to its north like Sierra Leone are benefiting from Israel’s amazing technology. Since March, the Jewish State is providing school children at St. Joseph’s Girls’ School in Sierra Leone’s capital of Freetown with clean drinking water extracted from the air.
Sound impossible? Not for Israel where the word “impossible” is absent from the Start-Up Nation’s lexicon.
The technology comes in the form of an atmospheric water generator known as the “GEN-350,” and is produced by the Israeli company Watergen which can produce up to 900 liters of water per day.
Situated in Rishon LeZion in central Israel, Watergen was set up in 2009 by entrepreneur Arye Kohavi, a former combat reconnaissance company commander in the Israeli Army.
The technology developed by Kohavi and his cadre of engineers, uses a series of filters to purify the air. After the air is sucked in and chilled to extract its humidity, the water that forms is then treated and transformed into clean drinking water. The technology uses a plastic heat exchanger rather than an aluminum one, which helps reduce costs.
Head Above Water
So, while in 2016 when a water conference to deal with the water crisis in South Africa was nixed because of the participation of Israel – considered the world’s no. 1 expert on water management – other countries in Africa like Sierra Leone are literally ‘tapping’ into Israel’s expertise in water technology.
“Watergen is currently operating in many African countries,” said Yehuda Kaploun, president of Watergen USA, “and even more announcements about other countries in Africa using our machines and technology will be forthcoming.”
With a weight of just 800 kilograms, the GEN-350 is easily transportable and can be installed easily. The GEN-350 units are provided with an internal water-treatment system and need no infrastructure except a source of electricity in order to operate.
Watergen’s efforts to make fresh, pure water available around the globe earned the company its place on the World Economic Forum’s list of the world’s top technology pioneers in 2018.
Yet, South Africa prefers to listen to BDS that says, “Israel water technology is not unique or special; such technology is widely available through other more friendly countries.”
So where are those other counties Lindiwe Sisulu, South Africa’s Minister of International Relations and Cooperation – the wording a clear misnomer – who is championing the campaign to downgrade her country’s diplomatic relations with Israel?
Rather than turn to Israel for help, will Cape Town prefer the dubious honor of becoming one of the few – if not the first – developed cities in the world to run out of water?
Would BDS SA try influence Sierra Leone to follow silly Sisulu’s lead, where water pollution in the West African country is one of the leading causes of death and which has an average life expectancy of 56 years, one of the lowest in the world. Approximately half of the population has no access to clean drinking water, and a little less than three-quarters of urban dwellers have a safe water supply available for use.
Sierra Leone’s water sources – primarily consisting of ponds, unprotected wells and freestanding water – have been contaminated by mining and chemicals used in the agricultural industry. Water-borne infections and parasites have increased the probability of Sierra Leoneans contracting diseases such as typhoid fever and Hepatitis A.
Does BDS South Africa prefer contaminated water than to being contaminated by contact with Israel?
Other than being antisemitic, BDS’s arguments – do not hold water!
There is a line from Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s, ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner’ that reads:
“Water, water everywhere, Nor any drop to drink…”
The image is of a sailor on a becalmed ship, surrounded by salt water that he cannot drink.
Today, because of Israeli ingenuity, there is potential water everywhere.
From the remote corners of India and Vietnam, to the palm-lined streets of Miami-Dade County, Watergen is doing what was once thought unthinkable – extracting safe, inexpensive potable water from the air we breathe.
“We created a product that can really be the next major source of drinking water,” says Maxim Pasik, Executive Chairman of Rishon LeZion-based Watergen.
Fired up after his visit to Africa in mid-2017, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – re-elected this May 2019 – announced that year to the world from the podium of the UN when he addressed the General Assembly, about Israel transforming air into water. He was thinking specifically how Watergen’s revolutionary product could be used in various parts of Africa.
Watergen’s cutting-edge and patented GENius technology provides a low cost, abundant and renewable source of fresh and clean drinking water by extracting it directly from the atmosphere. It is a plug and drink solution, requiring only electricity and no infrastructure. The company has also sought alternative energy sources for areas with little or no electricity.
For every community size, “We can provide drinking water from the air in the most cost effective, efficient manner to produce the healthiest, and cleanest tasting drinking water,” says Pasik. The Large-Scale unit produces up to 6,000 liters of clean drinking water each day, the mid-scale GEN-350 unit up to 650 liters each day, and the Genny home unit up to 30 liters each day, all based on an average temperature of 27°C with relative humidity of 60%.
Providing fresh pure water directly from the atmosphere, “at prices that are up to ten times cheaper than local filtered well water (at developing world prices), we are talking about a game changer formany tens of millions who only have access to contaminated drinking water,” says Pasik.
Regarding rural areas where there might be no access to electricity, the company has come up with a battery-operated solution. Using a reverse osmosis process for filtration and purification, the battery-operated device has a water purification capacity of 1,200 liters a day, so it can serve villages or areas that need water in emergency situations.
With unsafe water being responsible for more death than war, Israeli ingenuity provides a lifeboat. Instead of searching below for solutions, Watergen found it above – in our atmosphere – and devised a way to ‘tap’ into this unlimited resource.
Watergen hopes to improve the quality of life of billions who suffer from poor water sanitation or accessibility to safe drinking water. “This is a humanitarian issue,” says Pasik. “We would like to maintain peace between people and save people’s lives. The project is priceless and is huge.”
Proud that “this solution comes from Israel,” he adds proudly “This is a Kiddush Hashem (Hebrew for sanctification of God’s name) and tikkun olam (Hebrew for repairing the world)”.
Which only goes to show that sometimes the solutions to problems are staring us right in the face!
Out Of Thin Air
By 2025, two-thirds of the world will face drinking water shortages.
Watergen’s systems can solve this problem and help sustain life moving forward.
If Moses brought forth water for the People of Israel in the desert by striking a stone, today’s Israelites are striking water from the air
The history of the Jewish people and that of many African countries is more similar than it is different. There are some striking parallels – tribal allegiances, love of the indigenous land and a shared history of persecution and colonialism.
In the fledgling days before the founding of the modern State of Israel, Jews fought to end the British mandate that effectively colonized their ancient land.
It was with philosophy that both the founder of modern Zionism, Theodore Herzl and Israel’s Prime Minister, Golda Meir, who was the first to recognize that the Jewish state was the natural partner to help beleaguered African countries.
They recognized the shared desires of the African people as well as the Jews to live free in their homelands and respected the national liberation movements of the time, sensing a mutual desire to that of their own Zionist ideals. Zionism after all, is the national liberation movement of the Jewish people.
But today, much like in many other parts of the world, anti-Semitism is rearing its ugly head on the continent. A continent that has suffered more than its own share of discrimination and persecution.
From the north to the south
Many would be surprised to find out that there once were thriving Jewish communities in many countries across the continent and while communities are sparse in sub-Saharan Africa, in Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco and Egypt, they once flourished.
The Lemba of Southern Africa, the Igbo of Nigeria, Ethiopan Jews, the Abuyudaya of Uganda and the Sephardi and Ashkenazi of Europe, many of whom settled in Africa to escape persecution and who can forget the Mizrahi Jews of Arab countries, who were forced to flee Islamic rulers.
Due to rising anti-Semitism and poverty, these communities barely exist anymore. Outside of South Africa which has the largest community on the continent, there were communities in Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan, Uganda, Zaire (the Democratic Republic of Congo) and Zimbabwe. While many left for Israel, others left for Europe or elsewhere.
The continent’s massive poverty rates and political turmoil in the late 20th century led to some African national leaders blaming Jews for the problems of their countries which they claimed, “are operated by a conspiracy against the African race”. Anti-Semitism in Africa includes false rumors and allegations that the AIDS pandemic, was bioengineered by either the US, the United Nations or “the Jews” in a plot to exterminate millions of black Africans and that the disease is a part of the “Jewish” or “white Europeans’ maneuvers against Africa” or a continuous practice of “racial genocide”. African nations are prone to accept unreliable anti-Semitic reports and revisionist history that the slavery of black Africans in the new world was because of “Jewish merchants working for European colonial masters”. According to social scientists, these theories are appealing to some impoverished and downtrodden people without enough education to know the “Jewish conspiracy” myth is false and unprovable.
The South African story
In post-Apartheid South Africa, the Jewish community has not been spared. This is particularly troubling considering that the contribution made by the Jewish community during the Apartheid years was significant in the fight to end the racist regime. One famous example was that out of the 13 Rivonia trialists, 5 were Jewish.
Who can forget the inimitable Helen Suzman, the lone voice of opposition in parliament to the Apartheid government? Jewish and a woman to boot! Some of the greatest names to enter the pantheon of anti-Apartheid activists, be it through political, cultural, religious or civil action, include Johnny Clegg, Rabbi Isaacson, Joe Slovo, Arthur Chaskalson, Nadine Gordimer, Gill Marcus and Albie Sachs to name but a few. The founding fathers of the Rainbow Nation, Mandela, Sisulu and Thambo were intimately involved with Jews, having worked alongside many throughout their legal careers. Mandela famously visited Israel with “his” Rabbi Cyril Harris and met with then Prime- Minister, Shimon Peres. Mandela famously refers to Menachem Begin and the Irgun as the basis on which he hoped to model the armed wing of the ANC, Umkhonto we Sizwe in his autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom:
“I read The Revolt by Menachem Begin and was encouraged by the fact that the Israeli leader had led a guerrilla force in a country with neither mountains nor forests, a situation similar to our own.”
I think that these great stalwarts of human rights would be greatly hurt to witness the appalling invective levelled against South Africa’s Jewish community.
Good Jew, Bad Jew
Manifesting more as anti-Zionism rather than traditional anti-Semitism (although the two cannot be separated) the clarion call seems to be “Jews are welcome, Zionists are not.” Or are they? Over the past few years, anti-Semitism is manifesting on the Southern tip of the continent much like it is all over the world. Social media platforms have become new battlefields and threats of violence and subsequent incidents have increased.
There seems to be a division between who is termed “good” or “bad” Jew. Good Jews apparently are not Zionist and identify as Jewish by “cultural ties”, not those awful traditional, Israel loving kind. There have been atrocious incidents of anti-Semitism ranging from the BDS (Boycott Divestment and Sanctions) movement and their cries of “shoot the Jew” at a conference hosted by the South African Zionist Federation to the appalling tweets from populist Black Land First leader, Andile Mngxitama and a whole host of incidents and issues in between.
Many look to Europe or the USA as the barometer on how anti-Semitism manifests but if we ignore the South African model, we do so at our peril. It would appear that when BDS and their supporters in South Africa sneeze, their global network catches a cold. This is not to say that anti-Semitism in South Africa is restricted to BDS and the far left but the far right, perhaps emboldened by the alarming rise of their counterparts in the USA are rearing their ugly, neo-Nazi heads as well.
The consequences of rising anti-Semitism in South Africa are worrying. This could mean the marginalizing of a minority group that has played a vital role in not just the fight against the injustice of the past but continues to punch far above its size in helping to build a new country. It would also result in many of South Africa’s Jews leaving for safer pastures – and along with them, investment and employment opportunities for many of the country’s impoverished.
South Africans fought against Apartheid and many paid a painful price. After the struggles of the country’s dark past, do we really want to see this vicious cycle of discrimination and racism rise again?
Silence is no longer an option and the message that Jews are just as much a colour in the Rainbow Nation as any other community needs to be heard. Loudly.