South Africa Israel Academic Outreach

The SA-Israel Science Student Scholarship

By Benji Shulman and Terri Levin

South African campuses face an organised campaign of boycotts. It is time to push back by showing the beneficial aspects of education and knowledge sharing between two world-renowned universities. It is about building bridges through engagement and academic collaboration.

Two UCT science students have been offered by the Weizmann Institute of Science, the phenomenal opportunity to attend an invaluable 3-month research scholarship at their esteemed institution in Israel. This once in a lifetime scholarship will enrich the research capacity of the next generation of UCT scientists.

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Enriching Next Generation. University Of Cape Town, South Africa where two students have been offered a 3-month research scholarship at the Weizmann Institute of Science.

The Weizmann Institute of Science is one of the world’s leading multi-disciplinary basic research institutions in the natural and exact sciences and over the years, its researchers have been the recipients 6 Nobel Prizes, as well as 3 Turing Awards.

The Weizmann Institute also enjoys an enriching history with South Africa and UCT starting with Israel’s first state President Chaim Weizmann, of whom the Weizmann Institute is named after. Weizmann made an important visit to South Africa in the 1932, where he met with the leadership of the various Jewish communities across the country.

Israel’s finest diplomat, Abba Eban – the esteemed Minister of Foreign Affairs, Education Minister, Deputy Prime Minister and Ambassador to the UN and Vice President of the UN General Assembly  and who was President of the Weizmann Institute of Science  from 1959 to1966, was born in Cape Town on the 2 February 1915 to Lithuanian parents.

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Creative Campus. Searching for answers on a campus parading exquisite beauty.

More recently and exemplifying an enriching academic nexus between UCT and the Weizmann Institute of Science, Johannesburg born Prof. Leslie Leiserowitz but who obtained his BSc. in Electrical Engineering from UCT, was awarded in 2016 the Israel Prize for ‘Chemistry and Physics’ with Prof. Meir Lahav.  Israel’s most prestigious award was awarded to Prof. Leiserowitz for his work in the field of ‘Crystallization” that tries to answer questions like:

How and why do artery-blocking chunks of cholesterol form?”

What happens at the very first stage of the transition from water to ice?”

What can be done to prevent the formation of gallstones or the crystals in the joints that cause pain in gout?”

Finding solutions to problems is what science is about, and these are the challenges of our universities and future generations of students.

There is much that can be gained by strengthening the academic relationship with South Africa’s premier university UCT and Israel’s Weizmann Institute of Science which is constantly in the vanguard of scientific breakthroughs that have resulted in a wide range of patented technologies that make the world a better, safer, and healthier place.

More specifically with South Africa that needs to confront the challenges in both water management, entrepreneurship, health and improved methods of agriculture for a large rural population, the Weizmann Institute is well positioned to serve South Africa’s specific needs.

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Confronting The Future. The Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel, is one of the world’s top-ranking multi-disciplinary research institutions. Noted for its wide-ranging exploration of the natural and exact sciences, the Institute’s research efforts include searching for new ways of fighting disease and hunger, examining leading questions in mathematics and computer science, probing the physics of matter and the universe, creating novel materials and developing new strategies for protecting the environment.

Established in 1934, 14 years before the establishment of the State of Israel, the Weizmann Institute has been in the forefront of research to optimise its land mass, most of which is dry and much of it desert. The role it has played in increasing crop yields with the latest in scientific methods and of contributing to the greening of its desert is exemplary.

South Africa can benefit from its experience and expertise.

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Walk In The Park. Away from the lecture halls and laboratories, the Weizmann Institute’s parkland offers areas to appreciate as well as contemplate the challenges of nature.

Education, dialogue and the strengthening of ties between Israel and South Africa are at the epicentre of the South Africa Friends of Israel (SAFI) mandate, which gels perfectly in facilitating the partnership between these two outstanding universities. A flagship initiative of the South African Zionist Federation (SAZF), SAFI engages with other faiths, cultural and ethnic groups in the interests of building a broader grass roots support base for Israel in South Africa.

So important is this initiative being valued that the Weizmann Institute has pledged to match our contribution, if we raise the required amount of funds. So, we are appealing to YOU, for support, which will enable and empower these two deserving students, thereby helping UCT and South Africa in the field of science research.

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Under The Dome. Brilliant sunlight combined with brilliant ideas prevail in this EcoSphere in the Clore Garden of Science at the Weizmann Institute which is designed to raise the ecological consciousness of the public. The dome contains land and water plants, fish and algae and the energy for all the natural processes comes from the sunlight streaming through the panes of the dome.

By pledging R50 or more, you are supporting the SA-Israel Science Student Scholarship. DONATE HERE and you can save Academic Freedom

Please include as a reference: “your name” and “SAVEUCT” 

The SA-Israel Science Student Scholarship is an independent initiative that aims to support academic collaboration in Israel and South Africa. The convening committee has academics from both countries and members of the community. All monies collected are to be spent directly on the beneficiaries.

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Man With A Mission. Visionary Dr. Chaim Weizmann, an organic chemist, founder and president of the Weizmann Institute, later became the first President of the State of Israel.

As Dr. Chaim Weizmann so astutely noted:

Miracles sometimes occur, but one has to work terribly hard for them.”

Let us all work “harder” to bring this exciting collaborative project to fruition for Israel and South Africa.

 

 

 

 

headshot1 (1).jpgBenji Shulman, Executive Director  South Africa Israel Forum, is from Johannesburg, South Africa. He has a master’s degree in Geography and has worked in a range of fields in the Jewish community including education, advocacy, environment and outreach. He loves radio and has a hosted numerous shows on 101.9 ChaiFm in the last decade.

 

Terri Levin

Terri Levin, Media Liaison Officer of the South African Zionist Federation

 

 

AN OPEN LETTER TO UCT ON INVITING DR. STEVEN SALAITA TO DELIVER THE ANNUAL TB DAVIE MEMORIAL LECTURE THIS PAST AUGUST

By Stephen Schulman

To: Professor Mamakgethi Phakeng

Vice Chancellor

University of Cape Town

24th August 2019

 

Dear Professor Phakeng,

As an alumnus of the university, I received the latest Alumni News that contained a most informative article on pages 38 & 39 titled:

“The Development of Academic Freedom at UCT. Where does Flemming Rose Fit In?”

The article not only analyses and explains the function of the annual T.B. Davie Memorial Lecture but also goes to great lengths in extolling its centricity in the promotion of the core values that constitute the bedrock of UCT. The lecture “is meant as a platform for critically analyzing academic freedom”.

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Champion Of Academic Freedom. TB Davie led the University of Cape Town (UCT) during the politically turbulent post World War II years, from 1948 until his death in 1955. He courageously championed the cause of academic freedom and university autonomy, defining academic freedom as the university’s right to determine who shall be taught, who shall teach, what shall be taught and how it should be taught, without regard to any criterion except academic merit. His legacy continues in the memorial lecture series named after him.

These cherished values led to the dis-invitation of Flemming Rose, the Danish journalist from giving the 2016 T.B. Davie lecture after his newspaper had published cartoons of the prophet Muhammed eleven years previously. The then V.C., Dr. Price on behalf of the university’s management outlined three main reasons for this decision:

….”the risk that Rose’s lecture would provoke conflict on campus, the security risks of presenting the lecture,” and last but not least the disingenuous argument “that in the 2016 climate,” the lecture “might retard rather than advance academic freedom on campus.”

In the aftermath of this decision, the university, in September of the same year, convened a debate with a representative panel of its professors presenting their views to underline and strengthen UCT’s academic credo.

To quote Prof. Sandra Klopper: “Respect and tolerance for cultural, religious, political and other differences and acknowledgement of the values of diversity in society were part of the UCT statement of values.” She goes on to qualify: “Espousing an idea that is intolerant that causes harm through the advocacy of views that are demonstrably offensive, is in my view, not consistent with the idea of academic freedom.”

Prof. Imraam Coovadia, a member of the university’s panel in justifying the decision, voiced his opinion that ….”this is not a speaker who’s going to enlighten us intellectually” as well as his fear of resultant campus mob violence, assaulting of office bearers and wanton property destruction – well founded in the wake of the wholesale rioting, burning of churches and murdering of innocent Christians by Moslem mobs after the publishing of the cartoons!  Assoc. Prof. Adam Haupt, another panel member: “We’re arguing about someone we already know is racist and is a provocateur in the worst possible way…”

Nevertheless, in spite of its trumpeted statement of values, the university decided to invite Dr. Steven Salaita who gave the 2019 T.B. Davie Memorial Lecture on the 7th August.

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Dr Steven Salaita says UCT exercised academic freedom in its proposal to boycott Israeli institutions.

Dr. Salaita is a 3rd rate academic who on account of his views has been discredited and declared persona non grata by the American academia. His work is dominated by a singular obsession with and virulent hatred of Israel.  He has an enmity and hostility towards anyone who disagrees with him and freely and publicly insults and abuses those who dare to think otherwise.

Here are some of his tweets:

  • You may be too refined to say it, but I’m not: I wish all the fucking West Bank settlers would go missing.”
  • Let’s cut to the chase: If you’re defending #Israel right now you’re an awful human being.”
  • This is not a conflict between Israel and Hamas. It’s a struggle by an indigenous people against colonial power.”
  • The logic of ‘antisemitism’ deployed by Zionists, if applied in principle, would make pretty much everybody not a sociopath ‘antisemitic’.
  • If it’s ‘antisemitic’ to deplore colonisation, land theft, and child murder, then what choice does any person of conscience have?”
  • “Zionists: transforming antisemitism from something horrible into something honourable since 1948.”
  • “I repeat: if you’re defending Israel right now, then ‘hopelessly brainwashed’ is your best prognosis.”
  • “At this point, if Netanyahu appeared on TV with a necklace made from the teeth of Palestinian children, would anybody be surprised?”

 In addition to his filthy gutter mouth – unbecoming for any self-respecting person, let alone an academic – he resorts to the classic anti-Semitic tropes of demonization that would do Julius Streicher proud! His tweets bear eloquent testimony to his obsession – no need for elucidation!

In keeping with his bias, his doctoral thesis tried to prove the pathetically ridiculous fallacy that Zionism was inspired by and has links to the colonization of North America and therefore is a colonial racist entity committing cultural and racial genocide. His work is riddled with bias and multiple unsubstantiated falsehoods as are the books that he has written.

In all fairness to him, I read the transcript of his address and bravely ploughed through a convoluted, obtuse text riddled with both sniveling self-pity and spewing venom, the majority of which is devoted to axe-grinding, settling scores with his opponents and resorting to the well-worn trope that there was a Zionist (read: Jewish) conspiracy behind his being evicted from American academia.

Then, oozing cheap sentimentality, in an obvious attempt to garner sympathy, there is a long, totally irrelevant and maudlin digression about his son’s baseball game with a reminder of his paternal love and concern. In a first for this long history of lectures, he promotes the brand of sports drink that his son buys. Does Salaita get royalties from the manufacturer?

In my student days, I attended the T.B. Davie Memorial lectures and heard many distinguished speakers on academic freedom, but never have I read such an amalgam of unadulterated drivel, pseudo academic bilge and unabashed anti-Semitism.

 Is this the dignified and respected academic that UCT sees fit to invite to deliver a prestigious annual lecture?

Is this the lecturer that the council has deemed fit to follow in the footsteps of such distinguished personages such as Bobby Kennedy and Barack Obama?

Is this person with his foul mouth, his hatred and anti-Semitism, his complete intolerance of any views that do not correspond to his own, with his antiSemitic tropes such as the demonization of Israel’s prime minister, spouting the usual well-worn clichés suitable to address the convocation?

Is this not a person who conforms to being “….someone we already know is racist and is a provocateur in the worst possible way…”

Is this a person who embodies and promotes: “Respect and tolerance for cultural, religious, political and other differences and acknowledgement of the values of diversity in society were part of the UCT statement of values”?

Is this the person with behaviour and views so antithetical to the declared academic ideals of UCT that the university accords honor?

The university, understandably, does not wish to offend the sensibilities and beliefs of its Moslem students. However, when it comes to its Jewish students, all these lofty principles fly out of the window and Israel bashing and anti – Semitic statements become the order of the day. It pains me to say that the actions of this institution carry the rank stench of hypocrisy.

Has my alma mater sunk so low as to dredge the dregs of academia? Or, is it simply because they found someone suitable to echo their own beliefs?

Dear Professor Phakeng, I am appalled and disgusted by the actions of UCT. I am ashamed to say that I am a graduate of this once proud university.

Stephen Schulman

Ramat Hasharon. Israel

 

 

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

Cold Facts; Warm Embrace

People freezing In South Africa receive life-saving blankets from South Africa Friends Of Israel

 

By Kenneth Mokgatlhe ,newspaper columnist and former spokesman for the Pan African Congress.

South Africa’s biggest city Johannesburg may have attracted its earliest pioneers  with the finding of gold, today however, there is little golden for many of its citizens shivering in winter. Take for example Eldorado Park – not a remote rural village – but a suburb  of Johannesburg where on the 8th July 2019, the Paramount Chief of the Gonaqua Khoisan Tribe, Cornelius Botha, received on behalf of many of its destitute and homeless – many of them elderly –  blankets from the South Africa Friends of Israel (SAFI)  to provide much needed warmth during the cold period, where temperatures were dropping to life- threatening lows.

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Glaring Divide. Sandton skyline seen from Alexandra township. The juxtaposition between the rich and the poor is especially evident in Alexandra, where some of South Africa’s poorest live in the shadow of some of the country’s richest. File photo. Image: Alon Skuy
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Paramount Issues. From concern over the welfare of South Africa’s poor and destitute to calling upon the government to recognise traditional Khoisan leaders, Paramount Chief Cornelius Botha.

Winter Of Our Discontent

While winter is welcomed by those  with fashionable coats and luxurious homes, there are the many  in the same cities in South Africa who don’t have money to buy warm clothing or blankets or pay for electricity for heaters to keep them warm during the cold.

It was this horrendous situation that SAFI sought in its own small way, to address.

Gavi Sacks, National Chairman of the (SAFI), explained that this “was only our first stop on the Blankets of Hope Drive.” The organisation is committed “to helping South Africa’s truly vulnerable and often forgotten homeless people,” he added.

To understand how “vulnerable” and “forgotten” the words of local Eldorado Park resident, Elija Williams resonate following the protests there in 2017 over the lack of housing and jobs. Accusing the politicians of only visiting the area when votes are needed to win elections, Williams said:

 “My grandmother died living in a shack. I’m most probably going to die living in a shack. I don’t want my child to also have to live their entire life in a shack with no electricity.”

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A common sight across South Africa of satellite shanty townships adjacent to towns and cities.

A philanthropic organisation in Israel donated 3000 blankets (in total) for SAFI to handout. SAFI then arranged for the Blanket drives where hot soup and bread was also handed out.

Next stop on the Blankets of Hope Drive, was Booysens where 1500 blankets, collected by SAFI, were distributed to the needy. Over and above the blankets handed out to various communities across Johannesburg, “SAFI has been providing nourishment in this cold weather serving soup and bread rolls in strategically placed areas,” said Sacks.

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Disparity To Despair

The May 13, 2019 Cover Story in TIME examined South Africa as “the world’s most unequal country.” It showed pictorially frames of extreme poverty adjacent to extreme luxury as depicted in one frame of a shanty town next to a golf course in Durban, Kwazulu-Natal.

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Says It All. Appearing in Time, this photo taken in Durban contrasts a golf course adjacent to a shanty township.

With an escalating cost of living and turbulent political situation, the gap between the have and have nots is widening  at an alarming rate.

Johannesburg is known to be the destination of choice for many who have come seeking employment but sadly there are many homeless people who sleep in the streets, abandoned buildings or under bridges. Buildings such as churches or public halls are closed, and these helpless people cannot access those buildings leaving them no choice but  to sleep in the streets – even in winter. There seems to be an inherent lack of shelters or places where they can find respite from the bitter cold and crime that is so prevalent.

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UnCovered. Time graphically exposes on its May 13 2019 cover South Africa’s inequality with this photograph of Johannesburg’s suburbs of Primrose on the left and Makause on the right.

It is in this cold ‘climate’, that the ‘warm’ help such as from South African Friends of Israel is so appreciated.

Chief Cornelius Botha and Eldorado Park Pastor Errol Jacobs expressed gratitude to SAFI, lamenting how their communities are too often “forgotten”. Welcoming the blankets and food, they expressed that it was indeed “a blessing from God.”

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No Opportunities. Eldorado Park where South Africa Friends of Israel handed out blankets, in May 2017, exploded over lack of houses and jobs. Shaun Jacobs a young protester explained what set off the protests: “There’s no development in this area. There is no future for the youth here. Why do you think so many people from here get involved in selling drugs and stealing? It’s because there are no opportunities.”

At a time when the world seems to polarized and people seems to become more insular, it is really heartwarming to remember that there are many who still exemplify generosity.

Kindness is the paramount gift you can give another person.

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Elderly people draped in blankets they received at the Blankets for Hope event in Booysens

 

 

image006 (8).pngKenneth Mokgatlhe holds BA Honours (political science) from the University of Limpopo. He was a spokesperson of the Pan Africanist Congress from 2015 to 2018.  Mokgatlhe has written for Political Analysis South Africa, and is a frequent columnist for South African papers, notably – The Star, Sunday Independent, Sowetan and Cape Times.

 

Chariots of Hope

150 South African children will receive “Wheelchairs of Hope” from Israel!

By Tamar Lazarus acting co-president of WIZO South Africa

In South Africa, the statistics are grim. Children with disabilities are among the most neglected groups in the country and the majority of these children face enormous economic and social barriers that have an adverse impact on their physical, social and intellectual development and wellbeing.

The simple provision of a wheelchair is something completely out of reach for most!

Identifying the need to help, WIZO South Africa has joined forces with an Israeli NGO or non-profit, called WHEELCHAIRS OF HOPE to bring 150 child-size wheelchairs that will give these children the dignity of mobility.

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A Moving Gesture. The Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital Johannesburg, Gauteng, have received through WIZO South Africa, lightweight, reliable and child friendly wheelchairs from Israel.

“Wheelchairs of Hope”, is dedicated to providing children in developing countries with lightweight, reliable and child friendly wheelchairs. These wheelchairs have become more than instruments of mobility – they have become chariots of hope, helping these children to win battles and gain access not just to education but to friends and peers as well.

For some of these children, the only way to get around is to crawl.

“Our wheelchair is specifically designed for children, as we wish to empower education through mobility,” explained Pablo Kaplan who together with his life partner and co-worker Chava Rotshtein founded Wheelchairs of Hope in Israel in 2009.

“Mobility from early childhood is a gate to education. By giving access to education we create a new generation with better skills, confidence and hope.”

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Prime Movers. Pablo Kaplan who with Chave Chava Rotshtein founded ‘Wheelchairs of Hope’ in Israel in 2009.

In 2013, Kaplan and Rotshtein presented their idea at the opening day of the United Nations General Assembly and were selected to serve on UNICEF’s task force for assistive technologies.

This inspired WIZO South Africa to ensure that we could help as many of our vulnerable children as possible.

WIZO Cape Town recently donated four wheelchairs to the Paediatric Oncology wards at the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital and Tygerberg Hospital as part of its local outreach programme.  This is just the latest in a series of wheelchair donations.

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WIZO Impact. The writer Tamar Lazarus (right) with WIZO SA colleagues at Tygerberg Hospital in Cape Town.

The child-size chairs will give those patients who cannot walk, dignity, control and self-reliance, which are often compromised by having to rely on other people to move them around.

The wheelchairs are not just practical – but attractive.  Aimed at children aged five to nine-years who are able to push themselves, these colourful, ergonomically designed wheelchairs are light-weight and robust to handle urban and country terrains. The ‘WHEELCHAIRS OF HOPE’ wheelchairs were developed by specialist Israeli doctors and engineers from ALYN Hospital, Israel’s leading paediatric and adolescent rehabilitation centre, with the simple wish to “empower education through mobility”.

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A Touch Of Class. An Israeli ‘Wheelchair of Hope’ is seen here in a South African classroom.

From Israel With Love

The donation of these bright and colorful wheelchairs from Israel, offers these young South African children the life-changing gift of mobility, and self-reliance. They will also be a great help for staff and nurses who care for these precious youngsters.

We often take the ability to move in our home and community for granted – and with that, the ability to learn, interact with others, and participate in family life. We are so pleased that we are able to assist, for now, 150 children with mobility impairments, and give them these’ WHEELCHAIRS OF HOPE’ to enable them to lead active and fulfilling lives.”

So far, the recipients of the WHEELCHAIRS OF HOPE wheelchairs are:

  • Maitland Cottage Children’s Orthopaedic Hospital, Cape Town
  • Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital, Johannesburg
  • Red Cross Hospital Paediatric Oncology ward
  • Tygerberg Hospital Paediatric ward
  • Charlotte Maxeke Hospital Oncology ward
  • Special school Bolwar
  • ‘Give a Child a Family’ organisation, Margate
  • Open air school Durban
  • Athlone school for the blind
  • Individual children who otherwise would not have access
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The Magnificent Six. Empowered by mobility, these smiling children at Harding Special School in Kwazulu Natal each with their Israeli wheelchairs donated by WIZO South Africa.

We know that the receipt of these wheelchairs from Israel will have a truly lifelong impact on these kids – and their entire family unit will be transformed by the gift of the basic human right of mobility.

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A Kid On The Move. Young child on his Israeli Wheelchair of Hope’ inside the Paediatric Oncology Ward at Tygerberg Hospital in Cape Town.

WIZO SA will be seeking additional donors to become part of this excellent initiative.

If you would like to donate, or recommend a suitable recipient, please contact our offices 021 4646700 ext 131 or email us at wizosa@ctjc.co.za.

 

 

 

 

 

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Tamar Lazarus is the acting co-President of WIZO South Africa

 

 

 

 

 

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Meeting Of Minds

Aiming on future cooperation following SA academics visiting Israel.

By Benji Shulman

An enlightening tour took place in July where academicians from universities across South Africa visited Israel. Organised by the South African Friends of Hebrew University, the participants came from the University of the Witwatersrand, University of Johannesburg, University of Cape Town, University of Venda, University of the Free State, University of Stellenbosch, Gordon Institute of Business Science, University of Pretoria as well as government research agencies, and were closely exposed to Israel’s unique business culture.

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Oasis Of Excellence. Hebrew University campus in Jerusalem.

With South Africa’s economy shrinking by a worrying 3.2% in the first quarter of 2019, experiencing sky-high unemployment and attracting little investment, it was important for the SA participants to learn how such a small nation like Israel, with few natural resources, engineered an economic miracle earning the enviable moniker of the “Start-Up Nation’.

The tour began at Hebrew University’s Jerusalem Business School of Administration where they heard a lecture on Israel’s “DNA” – a mixture of knowledge, innovation and entrepreneurship. In other words – the success mode of Israel innovation technology.

From theory to practice, the group’s next stop was the University’s Technology Transfer company known as Yissum.

Founded in 1964 to market ideas and innovation of university researchers and employees, Yissum’s mission is to benefit society by converting amazing Israeli innovations into commercial solutions that address the world’s most urgent global challenges. It was important for our South African academics to hear how Hebrew University’s top researchers at Yissum were successfully “bridging breakthrough academic research with scientific and commercial applications.”

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Get Real. Yissum impacting on society by transforming excellent ideas into reality.

Such successes included working with Jerusalem-based Mobileye that was bought out for $15 billion by Intel. Mobileye safety technology is increasingly integrated into new car models from the world’s major automakers providing warnings for collision prevention and mitigation.

Hearing about Israel’s understanding of ‘entrepreneurship’ and how to grow businesses was high on the group’s agenda and HUJI Innovate provided the perfect vehicle to learn all about it.

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Glowing Global. Illuminating the path ahead, HUJI Innovate, the Hebrew University’s innovation platform, encourages students, faculty and alumni to develop new solutions for real-world problems while fostering a vibrant ecosystem that helps accelerate the creation of new ventures.

HUJI-Innovate

The Innovation & Entrepreneurship Center is the Hebrew University’s platform to encourage and assist students, faculty and alumni to develop their Innovation and Entrepreneurship capabilities.

To meet the increasing challenges of an ever-changing workplace, our South African group heard how HUJI supports its students and faculty in the development of new solutions for real-world problems and in this way,  create new and exciting ventures. This is something South African universities would do well to emulate.

Students of the 21st Century need to navigate a more challenging workplace than their predecessors and for the South African academics to  learn how to  boost a student’s perception of innovation and entrepreneurship with the aim to help them maximize their potential was most instructive.

And what could be more inspiring than the chance to view the personal papers of the 20th century physicist Albert Einstein at the University’s treasured Albert Einstein Archives.

As an aside, we learned that Einstein was a member of the university’s first board of governors and in 1925, the original 46-page manuscript of “the general theory of relativity” ended up at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

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Einstein Stands In Jerusalem. Although much later being offered the post of President of Israel, Einstein was satisfied in helping establish the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and served on its founding Board of Governors. It is now the home to his official archives where a statue of the physicist greets visitors.

‘Innovation’ was what this visit to Israel was all about and no less ‘innovative’ was the event organised by the South African Friends of Hebrew University in partnership with Wits’ Israel Alumni Association. Hosted at the World Mizrachi Hall and supported by Telfed (the communal support organisation for the Southern African community in Israel), the main speaker for the evening was Sivan Ya’ari whose Innovation: Africa organisation has been bringing Israeli water technology into Africa and effectively changing lives.

The event was attended by many ex-pat South Africans living in Israel, as well as Israelis interested in environmental challenges on the African continent. Other special guests included former Ambassador to South Africa, Arthur Lenk, editor of the Jerusalem Report, Steve Linde, veteran radio broadcaster, Walter Bigham, and several Holocaust survivors. Our university professionals found the talk most insightful and spoke about water-related challenges in South Africa.

Not all work and no play

The group had the opportunity to tour the Old City of Jerusalem as well as one of the world’s oldest port, vibrant Jaffa; meet with members of Israel’s ethnic minorities, sample Israel’s famous night life and of course eat lots and lots of local delicious cuisine!

The group was most impressed of the visit to the Peres Centre for Peace and Innovation in Tel Aviv. Founded in 1996 by the late President of Israel, Shimon Peres, the group heard how the Centre develops and implements programmes with a focus not only on promoting a prosperous Israel but of paving the way for a lasting peace between Israel and its neighbours.

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Living Legacy. The Peres Center for Peace & Innovation shows how technology and innovation can be put to the service of peace and act as a hub for innovation and peace. (credit Efrat Sa’ar)

Celebrity weatherman and science communications expert, Simon Gear, who accompanied the group said that “as South Africans, engaging Israel is crucial both from a perspective of the incredible technology there and from a view of supporting peace initiatives for Israelis and Palestinians.”

The guests were able to see a side of Israel that many do not, and this included various engagements with Israeli government departments; meeting with NGO’s who are working in innovation and development and mingling with other members of the academic community. There was a broad consensus that both countries had much to learn from one another, and that finding ways to broaden the conversation in different sectors was a key to making collaboration a success. Already by the end of the tour, there was interest in specific projects.

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Working For A Better Tomorrow. Africa and Israel share similarities in its past and can join hands in facing the future – together

 

This tour was made possible with the support of the South African Friends of Hebrew University. Yes, it was a journey from South Africa to Israel, but as we learned at Hebrew University, the journeys ahead are really those from:

Ideas to Ventures

 

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Focus On Africa. The South African group of 11 senior lecturers & researchers attended an event on the 8th July in Jerusalem where they heard Sivan Ya’ari CEO Innovation speak on the nature and scope of her work and how it can help meet the challenges of Africa. Steve Linde, Editor of the Jewish Report moderated the discussion . Seen here at the event are (l-r): Steve Linde, Jonny Lipczer from World Mizrachi, Dr Les Glessman, Chairman of Wits Israel Alumni, Benji Shulman, Director of South Africa Israel Forum, Roy Scher Telfed Jerusalem Chairman, Carmel Krawitz Executive Director S.A. Friends Hebrew University and Sivan Ya’ari CEO Innovation Africa July 8th World Mizrachi King George Jerusalem

 

 

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Benji Shulman Benji Shulman is a board member of the South African Friends of Hebrew University, newly appointed Head of Public Policy as the SAZF and organises educational group visits to Israel.

From Bishops To Pawns

BDS South Africa earlier this year reported on American and African Christian leaders, having issued a joint statement comparing the situation of Palestinians under Israeli occupation to that of black South Africans under Apartheid and urged “Economic Pressure”.

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Doing BDS bidding, South African Christian leaders issue statement urging “economic pressure” against Israel.

The statement follows a “Pilgrimage Group Visit” to Israel-Palestine by a delegation of American and African church leaders, the latter of whom include the General-Secretary of the South African Council of Churches Bishop Malusi Mpumlwana, Presiding Bishop of the Methodist Church of Southern Africa Bishop Zipho Siwa, Founder of Grace Bible Church Bishop Mosa Sono, Bishop of the Central and Southern Africa District of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, Bishop George Crenshaw, President of the Apostolic Faith Mission of South Africa Pastor M.G. Mahlobo,  Roman Catholic Archbishop of Cape Town Most Reverend Archbishop Stephen Brislin, Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Natal Right Reverend Dino Gabriel, Acting Presiding Bishop of the Ethiopian Episcopal Church Bishop Zandile Myeni, and the Executive Director of Ecumenical Service for Socio-Economic Transformation Dr Nomasonto Magwaza. Below is a response from a fellow Christian, neither a Bishop nor a pawn.

 

Response To Christian Leaders Urging “Economic Pressure” On Israel

 By Bafana Modise

As a Christian who has traveled to Israel and analyzed the conflict from both sides of the coin, it is truly upsetting that the very leaders who have taught the Bible to millions, as the report suggested, have allowed themselves to be used as pawns to advance a political narrative that is totally contradictory to the very Bible they claim to preach truthfully.

These are the leaders who have taught many to believe in scripture and prophecy. Lest we forget that the Christian faith was born from the land of Israel, and not Palestine. There’s no confusion between the biblical Israel and the current, as the article suggests. Moses, David, Solomon, Yeshua (Jesus), etc. lived and experienced favour from God on the same land.

Biblically and archeologically, we know for a fact, that the Jewish people are indigenous to the land of Israel, as they remain the only nation to have built a kingdom there, and they have returned more than three times to the same land. “and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth.” – Isaiah 11:12.

Now I wonder if those leaders actually believe and understand what they are currently teaching every Sunday?

The view that Palestine is indigenous to the Arab community suggests that the Bible we read is null and void, or rather it’s a book of fairytale stories, but yet again, the same teachers of the same Bible are the ones advocating for the isolation of Israel. Believers all over the world have been waiting for a time such as this, where all the exiles will return to the land of Israel, as inscribed in the Book of Joel, Zachariah and many others. We were taught in Bible studies, and most probably by the very same churches, that the Lord will restore Zion again in generations to come.

Some preachers today, in their pulpits, have turned around and twisted the scriptures for political points and relevance in the secular world. Christians should remain bold in their faith and never compromise the Gospel, irrespective of the political climate. I urge South Africans to ask the BDS movement these questions:

  • When exactly did this 100-year-old war actually become Apartheid?
  • Was it when the newly founded Jewish state was attacked by the whole Arab world in ’48, or rather in ’67, when the Arab world was certain that victory and annihilation of the Jews was on its way. I hope now you understand why some still have their house keys?!
  • Why are Palestinians in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and others still discriminated against in those countries?
  • Why can’t these countries take responsibility for their failure to destroy the Jewish state and absorb the Palestinians living in their countries for 70 years? The Arab world is equally responsible for Palestinian refugees, which they created by launching war on Israel in the first place.

 Approximately 850 000 Jewish refugees from the  Middle East were absorbed in the new state after they were expelled from Arab countries, many fleeing horrendous persecution – notably in Iraq.

  • Where were the Palestinians when the conference sat in Sudan in 1967 – known as the 3 No’s Conference of Khartoum – resolving that there shall be: No Peace (!), No Recognition (!) and No Negotiation (!), with the State of Israel?

The Palestinians have received millions in aid from the international community, but to this day, there is still no development in Gaza and the West Bank. Unfortunately, the enemies of Palestine are their very own leaders, whom are more interested in settling political scores and demonizing Israel, rather than improving the livelihoods of their people.

My heartfelt opinion on this conflict is that all believers, such as myself, should advocate for peace between the two parties, and if it need be, intervene with messages of unity and love.

To deny and twist Christian beliefs and prophecy in the pursuit of political greener pastures is just as the same as Peter, who loved and stood with Jesus in private and then denied any knowledge of him in Public.

Those listed Christian leaders in the article should rather ask how the Christian churches in the Middle East are thriving? Hopefully their eyes will be opened.

“Blessed are the peace makers, for they shall be called Sons of God” – Matthew 5:9

 

 

image004 (8).pngBafana Modise (26) is  Radio Personality, Public Speaker, Leadership Coach, Christian Activist and Voice-Over Artist who serves as Education Coordinator at South African Friends of Israel.

Israel Apartheid Week

An open letter to the Student Representative Council of the University of Cape Town in response to hosting the annual hate fest in April 2019: The Israeli Apartheid Week.

By Stephen Schulman, a UCT alumnus living in Israel

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Hall Of Hate. Jameson Hall  – renamed in 2018 ‘Saartjie Baartman Hall – is UCT’s venue during its annual ‘Israel Hate Week.

Dear members of the UCT SRC,

Now that the new year of 2019 has arrived it came to my notice that you, as in the past, and as is your custom, in the merry month of April, hosted that annual hate fest: the Israeli Apartheid Week.

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As a past graduate of our proud university and even though many moons have passed, I still feel a kinship to this great institution and its students and therefore would like to draw your attention to certain cogent facts and to engage you in a frank open discussion. I am certain that your studies and exposure to the benefits of academia of my alma mater have endowed you with qualities of intellectual and moral integrity and have instilled in you the virtues of disinterested enquiry, dispassionate objectivity and courtesy that shall enable you to weigh my words and honour me with a reply.

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You label Israel an “apartheid state”.

To deserve that label, a country must fulfil certain criteria. Apartheid was official government policy, legislated, executed and also condoned and ideologically justified by the main Afrikaner churches. Black people were discriminated against, disenfranchised, relocated, dispossessed and relegated to the fringes of society while there were strict laws against miscegenation and racial intercourse.

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The high-profile marriage in 2018 between Arab-Israeli news anchor, reporter, and television host Lucy Aharish, a Muslim (left), and Israeli film and television actor Tzahi Halevi and a Jew. (Photo: Meir Edery)

Unfortunately, nowadays the term “apartheid” has been too often incorrectly applied to any form of discrimination, been devalued and has consequently lost its original context.

Now, does the State of Israel fulfil the criteria to be so labeled? Does it have an official policy of racial discrimination to groups within its borders?

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Firstly, all citizens irrespective of race or religion have full equality.There are Arabs serving in the diplomatic corps and an Arab judge in the supreme court. In the Knesset (Israeli parliament) the current minister of communications is a Druse. There are Arab parties in the Knesset and even though they see themselves as Palestinians and their views are often inimical to the state, as Israel is a democratic country, they have the right to express their opinions, which they freely do. Arab citizens are an integral part of the work force and partake fully in society. In my Medical Health Fund and in hospitals and clinics, there are Arab doctors and nurses with Arabs and Jews together in the hospital wards. I have been treated by Arab doctors and nurses and wait my turn in line after other Arab citizens to see a doctor. There is mingling in cinemas, restaurants and supermarkets. Just recently a well-known and popular TV presenter who happens to be a Moslem Arab married a Jew. Is this “apartheid“?

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Israel has freedom of religion and religious sites are protected by law. The Bahai faith so viciously persecuted in Iran has magnificent gardens and buildings in Haifa. A great number of Christian pilgrims visit our country. The LGBT community lives and works freely here. Do these same conditions exist in the Middle Eastern countries surrounding us, in Gaza and the West Bank?

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You profess a deep and lasting concern for the Palestinian community. Let us now examine a few facts. In 1948, the United Nations declared Israel as a legitimate state with a right to stand amongst the community of nations. The Israel War of Independence ensued as the fledging state’s Arab neighbors refused to abide by the UN resolution, acknowledge Israel’s existence, avowed to destroy it, “push the Jews into the sea” and promptly invaded the country. In the aftermath of the war, approximately 600,000 Palestinian Arabs became refugees. Moreover, approximately 850,000 Jews who had been living in the Arab countries many centuries before Islam dominated the area, were persecuted, subjected to pogroms, disenfranchised, dispossessed and expelled.

image010 (3).pngIn the name of justice for all, a most relevant and pertinent question would be to enquire about the fate of these 850,000 Jewish refugees. The answer is quite simple: the vast majority were accepted with open arms by the fledgling state while a smaller number having European passports chose to move there. Today, Jews from Arab countries and their descendants are an integral part of modern-day Israel.

Israel did not push them into squalid refugee camps and keep them there to fester as hostages as the Arab countries have done to their fellow Moslems. Israel did not deny them full citizenship and opportunities. You profess deep concern for the Palestinians’ rights. Lebanon restricts them to refugee camps, denies them basic rights such as citizenship, health care, employment and education and disqualifies them from owning property. Moreover, they are barred from studying or practicing in twenty professions. Lebanon continues to ignore calls by various human rights groups to the Lebanese authorities to end discrimination against Palestinians.

Is this not “apartheid” in its true sense?

In reality, the policy and actions of Lebanon are closer to the Nuremberg Laws of Nazi Germany. In the wake of the Gulf War, many Gulf states, Qatar included, used the opportunity to expel the Palestinians living there. Saudi Arabia has imprisoned many and in Syria, thousands have been tortured and murdered. Is there an Arab country that has accepted their co-religionists the Palestinian refugees, given them citizenship and full rights as Israel has done to the Jews expelled from the Arab countries?  In the name of full justice and moral consistency, why have you never raised your voices in protest? Why have you not devoted a week to this cause?

The SRC has always stated its awareness of and devotion to causes for human rights.

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Turkey under Erdogan has summarily dismissed over 100, 000 civil servants, purged the army, jailed many in the opposition and effectively silenced the free press either by laws or intimidation.

Iran is under dictatorship, executing, jailing and torturing many of its citizens, persecuting religious minorities such a the Bahai and actively developing and spreading terrorism throughout the globe.

Saudi Arabia denies gender equality, has religious intolerance ad has executed over 500 people in the last few years.

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China has forcibly relocated over 1000,000 Moslem Uighurs, incarcerated, executed and harvested the organs of members of the Falun Gong sect. and let us not forget, amongst others, its maltreatment of the Tibetans.

Yet, in the light of all these well-known gross abuses, the SRC has chosen to remain silent. Why is this so?

Is it because you don’t wish to offend and bite the hand that feeds you when Saudi Arabia and China invest large sums of money in SA?

You quite rightly state your pride in being an African university and your involvement in the affairs of the continent and so it should be. Nevertheless, you remain silent in the face of injustices. To name a few:

Zimbabwe is corrupt and oppressive towards its own people. There is slavery in the Sudan and many fellow Africans suffer under incompetent and corrupt rulers. I saw in your group picture where you happily and contentedly sit, that with the exception of one white person that you are all Africans, so in raising your voices you cannot be accused of racism. You have been empowered by your fellow students to speak out. Why is there silence on your part?

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Hall Of Hate. Jameson Memorial Hall is UCT’s venue during its annual ‘Israel Hate Week.

When I was at UCT, the SRC saw beyond campus politics, was involved, protested and demonstrated against government apartheid policies. South Africa – your country, the country of your forefathers and your future generations – is mired in deep corruption with its leaders filling their pockets at the expense of the ordinary citizen. Poverty, neglect and crime is rampant. In your site, I searched in vain for any pronouncements of your concern or activism.  It is incomprehensible that you should choose silence!

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Consequently, your official platform is full of platitudes that unfortunately are devoid of any content. I find it pitiful that you find time to single out Israel while willfully ignoring the rampant injustices around you. I find it pitiful and morally repugnant that you turn a blind eye to many egregious violations of human rights and let hatred, racism and anti-Semitism blind your reason. I find it saddening that you, the student council are devoid of any moral compass and are stained with moral cowardice.

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I level these charges against you. They are serious. If I have erred, I shall gladly stand to be corrected. I look forward to your reply. If not, then you will have affirmed all my accusations.

Stephen Schulman

Ramat Hasharon,

Israel.

 

 

 

“Shitty Jew”

By Rolene Marks

This is a personal account of a grossly antisemitic incident and the events that followed. It is important to share these stories, especially at a time when levels of antisemitism are rising to alarming levels around the world. We can no longer be silent in the face of hatred

Yes, you read the title correctly. This is not an easy story to share with you but at a time when hatred and vile invective against Jews is rising alarmingly across the globe, I feel the need to rise above my own personal humiliation and hurt and allow myself the vulnerability of sharing this very personal story with you.

Today, it is more important than ever to expose racism and bigotry wherever it rears its ugly head and send a message that antisemitism will no longer go unchecked. It is no longer okay to gaslight the concerns of Jews and we will no longer suffer in silence.

This story takes place in race sensitive South Africa and exposes a diabolical double standard that exists on issues pertaining to racism. The democratic rainbow nation that enjoys what is arguably the most progressive Constitution in the world, sets the bar when comes to calling out the bigots and haters but when it comes to the oldest hatred in the world, is oddly silent. Has the current political climate with the ruling ANC’s almost rabid disdain for the State of Israel filtered down and is clouding human decency?

South Africans are all too familiar with cases like Penny Sparrow, Adam Catzavelos and others who have made repugnant racist comments and are paying the price but there seems to be no punishment for antisemitism – only avoidance.

I guess when it comes to equal opportunity hatred, the South African media are not as “woke” as they purport to be. Cry the beloved country.

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It all started with a letter.

In my capacity as co-founder of the South Africa-Israel Policy Forum, I responded to both a letter written by Gunvant Govinjee and an article written by Alexander O’Riordan that featured in the Business Day and The Daily Maverick respectively. Regrettably, my opening line that stated unequivocally that my letter was in response to both the letter AND the article, was omitted in both publications.

O’Riordan erroneously interpreted some of my comments as a direct attack on him, and proceeded to call me a liar both in a letter of response in the Business Day as well as on my Facebook page. The latter followed an invitation into my personal space after a well-meaning acquaintance suggested that if we spoke to each other, we might find middle ground.

It was not to be!

O’Riordan unleashed venomous invective, calling me a liar multiple times, alleging that I called him a racist (there is a BIG difference between calling someone a racist and saying comments are such) and demanding an apology. Although acknowledging that ‘perhaps’ he had reacted wrongly, he STILL persisted in calling me a liar. I had all the facts so wasn’t as bothered by those accusations as I was by what followed.

When I replied to him by saying that I was a proud Jew, his only response is to resort to personal attack and things took a profound turn for the worse.

O’Riordan responded by calling me a “shitty Jew” no less than four times and his final punch was comparing me to Harvey Weinstein and Bernie Madoff. Now, while I cannot testify to Madoff or Weinstein’s levels of religious observance, I can ask why is religion a factor on what kind of a person they are? We don’t judge other criminals by their religion n’est-ce pas?

O’Riordan then went on to clarify who he deems “decidedly unshitty”. Those Jews that are “good” i.e. anti-Zionist or anti-Israel like Ronnie Kasrils or Joe Slovo. Good Jews vs Bad Jews – a distinction which antisemites are weaponising in order to sow division and try rationalise their hate-driven behaviour.

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O’Riordan claims that Ronnie Kasrils, a former Minister of Intelligence is a “good Jew” but please allow me to remind readers that this is a man who in an Op-ed for the Daily Maverick on the 20th of April this year, made the following comments referring to the development of business ties with Israel as “crony capitalists within the ANC” who were more than ready to have “their palms greased like Judas with silver coins“.

Today, the word ‘Israel’ or ‘Zionist’ has replaced ‘Jew’, and Kasrils, despite his Jewish roots, is trafficking in nasty antisemitic tropes. While O’Riordan – a self-proclaimed atheist – further states that there are “shitty people” of other religions, it is the focus on Jews and his propensity to make divisions that is decidedly dangerous and must be called out.

Good Jew vs Shitty Jew – this is not criticism of Israeli policy, which is legitimate and which Israelis have elevated to a national sport. This is where the line has been crossed and a further line drawn in the sand.

We, the Jewish people will decide what is offensive to us and making these despicable distinctions offends us to the core. Must we be punished and isolated for having and supporting a state of our own? Those like O’Riordan who make these distinctions believe so.

Following this, I sent an official letter of complaint to both editors, thinking that they do would share my disgust and act. To date I have had no response – not even an acknowledgement  of receipt  – from either of the editors.

Radio silence!

 At first, I was angry and then I thought, perhaps there is something more to this. Were the editors afraid of taking a stand or drawing attention to this issue? I really don’t believe it is anything personal or anti-Israel on behalf of the editors; on the contrary, I think the political climate in South Africa is such that it could invite a lot of hate-filled invective.image005 (5).png

Has the climate become such that when it comes to rising antisemitism in South Africa, people are too scared to take a stand? The recent signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the ruling ANC and terror organization, Hamas as well as the renaming of Sandton Drive after arch terrorist, Leila Khaled, has firmly cemented where South Africa’s alliances fall. The trafficking in antisemitic tropes by ANC and other party leaders such as the EFF who made this statement “We also call on the international community to remember the people of Palestine, the birth and death place of Jesus Christ. They represent the suffering, the permanently crucified, disfigured and humiliated body of Christ hanging on the summit for all shame. The Palestinians suffer racial discrimination, colonization and apartheid in the hands of the apartheid state of Israel” or former Foreign Minister, Lindiwe Sisulu who wished the “Israeli Embassy was in the Dead Sea” only adds fuel to the fire.

O’Riordan’s comments I find racist and offensive and the subsequent editorial silence of the respected Business Day and Daily Maverick, I find worrying, especially in today’s climate. My concern is compounded by these publications offering a platform to a professional propagandist who when unable to establish facts, resorts to racism, when referring to me as a “shitty Jew”!shitty Jew4.JPG

If he had made these comments about another race or religion, it would be equally intolerable and someone like this who trafficks in racism should be publicly shunned and exposed. O’Riordan should be held to the same standards as any racist.

If it is not going to happen in a country like South Africa that purports to be a liberal democracy to take a stand of racism in any of its ugly forms then it is up to us as individuals. Failure to do so allows for hatred to flourish.

I won’t be silent or silenced. Not on my watch.

In a democracy there should not be any place for intolerance and racism in a civilized society.shitty Jew5.JPG

Times Are A’changing

In Europe, now South Africa – Jews are feeling uneasy

By David E. Kaplan

The recent spat between the South African Jewish Board of Deputies’ vice president, Zev Krengel and Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Lindiwe Sisulu, illustrates not only the widening chasm  between South Africa’s ruling party and its Jewish community but something far more alarming.

It exposes an increasing unease Jews are feeling with their position in South Africa today.

The “issue” is not over anything pertaining to Jewish wellbeing in their country – the primary concern of Krengel’s organisation the SAJBOD – but over South Africa’s relationship with the Jewish State – Israel.

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Satisfying Selfie. SAJBD National Director Wendy Kahn, SAJBOD’s vice president Zev Krengel and SA President Cyril Ramaphosa are all smiles following post-election celebrations held at the IEC (Independent Electoral Commission’s) Results Gala.

Once a  ‘sign’ of inclusivity, the much touted “Rainbow Nation” image of the Mandela era has lost its sparkle. That inclusivity  comes today  for South Africa’s Jews  with a price tag:

Stop Supporting Israel.”

Can this really be expected as an option for a People who have repeated for over 3500 years from the Psalm of King David:

 “If I Forget Thee, O Jerusalem! let my right hand forget its skill!”

Zionism –  the nationalist movement of the Jewish people that supports the re-establishment of a Jewish homeland in the territory defined as the historic Land of Israel – is in the DNA of South African Jewry. Well over a half century before the Holocaust in Europe, Zionism arrived in South Africa  “in the knapsacks of the Litvak Jews.”

Many of the young new arrivals from the late nineteenth century  had been members of Hovevei Zion societies in Eastern Europe – the forerunners and foundation-builders of modern Zionism. These societies aimed to promote Jewish immigration to their ancestral homeland in Ottoman ruled Palestine, and advance Jewish settlement there, particularly in agriculture.

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Fundraising For Palestine. A 1922 pledge of 175 by a Cape Town Jew. South African Jewry’s contribution in absolute figures was second only to Jewry in the USA in the first two decades of Keren Hayesod (Foundation Fund) that was established in 1922. By 1939, with a Jewish population of 90,700 South Africa’s per capita record was extraordinary when compared to a Jewish population of nearly 5,000,000 in the United States.

It was therefore no surprise the South African Zionist Federation was established as early as 1898 – over a decade before there was even a Union of South Africa –  followed by the Board of Deputies in 1903. Nine years later the ANC was founded in 1912, with the aim of fighting for the rights of black South Africans.

Now the organisations tasked with fighting for the rights of Jews and Blacks are facing off over an issue a continent away!

What has startled the Jewish community even more, was the rebuke Krengel and the SAJBOD received as if they had no right to criticize the ANC member.

The criticism in question was Krengel referring  to Minister Lindiwe Sisulu as “the single biggest enemy” in government to South African Jewry. This was in response for her crusade for South Africa to sever diplomatic relations with the Jewish state.

Krengel had every right to articulate his concerns particularly following the Minister’s ignorance, bias and antisemitism all evident in her accusing “the Israeli government of funding WITS” (University of the Witwatersrand) and adding to her accusation “This was a fact that must be taken into account when implementing the proposed downgrade of the South African embassy in Israel.”

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Down With Israel. Diplomatic downgrade crusader, Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Lindiwe Sisulu. Picture: GCIS.

If the British Labour Party, once the political home for much of Britain’s Jewish community is being investigated for institutional antisemitism – why should senior members of the ANC be free of similar rebuke?

The Jewish leadership would have been remiss in not taking the minister to task.

As national vice chairman of the South Africa Zionist Federation Ben Levitas in Politicalweb expressed:

the SAJBOD did what they were elected to do by opposing Minister Lindiwe Sisulu’s decision to act on the ANC’s 54th National Conference resolution “to immediately and unconditionally downgrade the South African Embassy in Israel”. The Boards mandate is to guard and protect the interests of the Jewish community and the downgrade of relations with Israel most certainly impacts on the well-being of the community.”

While the cracks have been paved over following the recent national election, some members within the community are seeing through the façade of rainbow-nation-like unity and camaraderie. A May 23 letter by Brian Josselowitz to the editor the SA Jewish Report is revealing:

You can schmooze with the political elite, and even take selfies with ANC President Cyril Ramaphosa, but he serves at the pleasure of the national executive committee, and he will not vote against ANC policy, especially on the question of Israel.

The SA Jewish Report (SAJR) gave him its unqualified backing when he won the ANC presidency at the party’s last elective conference, and if he has, as the SAJR would have us believe, an open mind about the conflict, why didn’t he take cabinet colleagues Naledi Pandor and Sisulu to task, in public, for their anti-Semitic remarks? Why has he allowed Sisulu to say that all relations with Israel are being severed, and the embassy will be downgraded to a visa office, without repudiating her in public?”

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Soothing In Synagogue. President Cyril Ramaphosa addressing the Jewish New Year’s prayer session at the Gardens Synagogue in Cape Town, September 12, 2018. Picture: GCIS

A Deep Sense Of Foreboding

What is happening to freedom of speech in South Africa  when the Board’s director, Wendy Kahn, feels the need to defend  her organisation’s right to criticise government.

 “…I think the Jewish community, as with all citizens of South Africa have got a right to criticise and condemn statements and actions of government.”

All this follows:

  • in 2018 the ANC put out the red carpet in Parliament for the terror organisation Hamas that had only weeks before   fired close to 500 rockets from Gaza into southern Israel with the intention of endangering the lives of Israelis. A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was co-signed by the ANC and Hamas that supported – inter alia – “the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel” and ensured that “ANC leaders and government officials do not visit Israel
  • The ongoing crusade of South Africa’s premier university – the University of Cape Town (UCT) – to boycott academic institutions in Israel
  • The passing of a motion brought to the Johannesburg council by the ANC, Al-Jamaah and EFF to rename one of the city’s prominent roads, Sandton Drive, after Leila Khaled. While glorified as the “poster girl of the Palestinian struggle”, this is the same Leila Khaled who, holding two hand-grenades in her hands in 1970, terrified a planeload of passengers on an EL AL Flight from Amsterdam to New York City and who the previous year, in 1969, had hijacked a TWA Flight from Rome to Tel Aviv diverting it to Damascus International Airport, where together with her partner, blew up the nose section of the Boeing 707. These are South Africa’s role models today – dedicated to the destruction of the State of Israel. Khaled was not hijacking civilian aircraft in support for a Two-State Solution:

        In 1970, there were only 1,514 Jews living in the West Bank!

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Explosive Personality. TWA Flight 840 being blown up on August 29th 1969 by Leila Khaled and her fellow hijackers. Source: adst.org

Is it any wonder that Jews in South Africa are questioning the direction of their country, the policies of its political leaders and the nagging thorn pricking daily, whether it is a suitable place for their children and grandchildren?

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Sign Of The Times. PFPL plane hijacker Leila Khaled (centre) warmly received in South Africa in 2015, might soon have a street in Johannesburg named after her. (photo credit: AFP PHOTO/GIANLUIGI GUERCIA)

An old acquaintance in Cape Town who recently put his property on the market remarked:

 “It’s now just a house; it’s no more a home!”

 

 

* Feature Picture:  Cyril Ramaphosa chating to Lindiwe Sisulu on the last day of the ANC National Conference on December 20, 2012 in Mangaung, South Africa. (Photo by Gallo Images / Foto24 / Felix Dlangamandla)

SA At Odds With World Powers And BRICS Nations About Israel

By Rowan Polovin

Hating one Middle Eastern country has never garnered the ANC votes or won it any international favour.

There is something foul about SA’s foreign policy. It stands continuously with the anti-Western bloc of dictators, fascists and human rights abusers. It has a horrendous track record of voting at the UN General Assembly and the UN Human Rights Council that is diametrically opposite to post-apartheid’s values of freedom and nondiscrimination.

It votes against measures that sanction human rights abusers and praises the “diversity” of totalitarian dictatorships. It abstains on the appointment of a special rapporteur on violence against the LGBTI community and on resolutions condemning human rights abuses in Syria.

It keeps consistently but deafeningly silent about all the horrors and atrocities committed in Africa, Asia and the Middle East, as well as on the mistreatment of women, minorities and children. It sits Janus-faced on the international stage, facilitating the work of despots offshore, while proclaiming the values of human rights back home.

There is but one country at which South Africa directs all its opprobrium and judgment. It is the most undeserving country of such hostility but is so targeted because the governing party irrationally believes this will win it votes locally and power internationally.

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Speak Of The Devil. While separating from the only democracy in the Middle East, Israel, South Africa embraces one of the world’s worst human rights abusers and prime promoter of instability in the Middle East, Iran, as seen here with SA’s Deputy Minister for International Relations and Cooperation, Reginah Mhaule (right), expressing this past March in Cape Town before Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister, Abbas Araqchi (left), “we remain committed to continue to support the Islamic Republic of Iran.”

The ANC is dangerously wrong on both accounts: hating Israel has never garnered it votes in any election, and targeting Israel internationally only isolates South Africa itself. It carries out an inverted foreign policy that bashes the ‘Jew of nations’ and applauds the scoundrels.

The ANC owes the public an explanation about why it does this.

Last week, South Africa’s Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Lindiwe Sisulu, recklessly steered into dangerous territory when asked about her country’s relations with Israel. She spoke of removing the South African ambassador to Israel and of kicking out the Israeli ambassador to SA. She even declared that the ANC will dictate university policy on Israel.

She forgot about SA’s esteemed constitution and rule of law, and that the ANC sits below, not above it.

Our constitution was carefully written by wise people who recognised that freedom of religion, speech, association and academia are fundamental values that ensure the longevity of a democratic state. Any unjust attempts to undermine those values, as Sisulu and her faction seem intent on doing, will unravel the very structures of the democratic state her predecessors fought for.

On the issue of cutting ties with Israel and allowing the antisemitic BDS fringe movement to capture foreign policy, Sisulu and the ANC should proceed with extreme caution. South Africa is focused on rebuilding its standing in the international community and hoping to be taken seriously on international affairs.

While still a member of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and SA) bloc, it parts company with every other member on Israel. Every BRICS country besides South Africa is constantly improving ties and friendships with the Jewish state. South Africa stands at odds with these world powers, including many African and Arab countries that work more closely than ever with Israel.

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India Has Other Ideas. While South Africa considers ‘downgrading’ with Israel, its fellow BRICS’ member, India, opts for ‘upgrading” as seen here with India Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi (right) and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during the India-Israel Business Summit in New Delhi. January 15, 2018 (MONEY SHARMA/AFP)

Moreover, South Africa needs Israel’s help to solve local problems such as water scarcity, access to electricity and agricultural solutions that would take millions out of poverty and turn our deserts into fields of plenty. Millions of South Africans would not take kindly to their future being stolen by petty short-term interests. Nor will they appreciate the negative effect this will have on local job creation and our already struggling economy.

Cutting out Israel only cuts out SA’s future.

If South Africa attempts to throw out the Israeli ambassador, it will send a signal that it wishes to disconnect the proudly South African Jewish community from their spiritual, religious and historical homeland. The government should take heed that Jews will never allow their bond with the Jewish state to be broken. Nor will committed Christians, who make up the majority of South Africa’s religious communities.

Antisemites may be pleased that their irrational hatred of Jews has resulted in a downgrade in relations with Israel, but the majority of South Africans will not be pleased with the uncertainty and instability it will bring.

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Red Carpet For Killers. While threatening in 2019 to “kick out” the Israeli ambassador to South Africa, its ANC leaders has no problem embracing Hamas as seen here with terrorist mastermind Khaled Mashaal being honoured in Cape Town in October 2015. (AFP/Rodger Bosch).

It is time for principled business people, government officials, political parties and civil society to stand up to the ANC’s desperate and hypocritical obsession with the Jewish state. Our future depends upon it.

 

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Rowan Polovin is chair of the SA Zionist Federation’s Cape Council.