Personal tribute to a friend and ally – the renowned journalist, publisher and lover of Israel who passed away in Johannesburg South Africa in November 2018.
By Kathy Kaler, CEO and host of Afternoon Drive Show, Chai FM
Being a radio presenter, I consider myself privileged. I get to engage with thousands of people daily via ChaiFM. People share their opinions, fears and hopes with me – daily. And all are important and yet most of our listeners I will never meet.
Except for Moses Moyo!
His text messages came in to the Morning Mayhem almost every morning since 2013 until his sudden passing.
Moses’ messages were frequently in defence of Israel while at other times comments about service delivery in Johannesburg, but most often they were song requests – Yaakov Shwekey, Moshe Peretz or Benny Friedman.
He signed them all ‘Moshe’.
It was only when I received a video of Moses singing along (to Benny Friedman’s “Mazal and Brocha” nogal!!) that I realised I was engaging with someone from “outside” our often-insular community.
But I was wrong.
Moses Moyo was someone very much engaged in the Jewish community.
On every level.
He loved our culture, our music, our religious rites, our traditions and even our quirks.
And he loved Israel. Passionately.
Moses understood profoundly, the importance of the Jewish state, not only to Jews but what Israel means to the world and her place in the greater scheme of things.
Always interested in hearing the human stories, I took the initiative to call Moses up one day and invite him for a cup of coffee. And that was where our friendship began.
In a little coffee shop in Glenhazel. It was 2014.
I came to know Moses as a great defender of the underdog – whether he was standing up for Israeli actions to defend her borders or the plight of African asylum seekers in Hillbrow. Moses stood for truth and all that was right in the world. It is no secret. Anyone who knew him will tell you that.
A year ago, Moses planned to run the Jerusalem Marathon as part of the DL Link #RunForRecovery team. Due to issues with his passport, he had to forego the 2018 Marathon but had it on his radar to run this year. Moses was incredibly positive and for him it was just a postponement.
Little did anyone know…
In October last year, while listening to the Morning Mayhem on ChaiFM I heard about Moses’ untimely death. Like so many others who knew him, I was filled with disbelief. And sadness. And loss. Not only had I personally lost a friend, but as a Jewish and Zionist community, we had all lost an ally.
After his passing, the Jewish Community started fundraising for Moses’ children’s education.
Education… A tree of knowledge, right? The South African Zionist Federation (SAZF) and the Jewish National Fund (JNF) will also be planting a tree in Israel in Moses Moyos’ name. I will be at that ceremony. Two trees. A tree of knowledge for his children in the form of the trust fund and a physical tree in the Holy Land.
Moses would have loved that.
What a testament it is to our community organisations to honour a wonderful man who was so loyal to our community and did so much to bring Christian and Jewish Zionists together.
This year I am part of the Jerusalem Marathon 2019 DL Link #RunForRecovery team. I will be running the 10km Marathon.
This morning I went for my early morning run on the streets of Jerusalem, and as I ran down Ben Yehuda into Jaffa road – my tears flowed.
And I let them.
They were tears for Moses Moyo.
They were tears of Gratitude.
Of Simply Being Alive. (Eventually I had to decide whether to run or cry – doing both is near impossible).
So, I ran.
This Friday I will be running for Moses Moyo to complete what he wasn’t able to.
My official DL Link racing shirt (yes, apparently a Marathon is a race!) has his name on the back along with the names of the two other warriors for whom I am running. The red DL Link Jerusalem Marathon 2019 Tour T-shirts have his name on the shirt of all 85 runners on the team.
Because we are all Moses Moyo
Champions of the Underdog. Pursuers of Truth. And Proud Zionists.
Onward and Upward. Always.
More on Moyo (By the Editor)
Moyo was the founder and chairperson of ‘Friends of the Inner-city Forum’, a community-based organisation in the inner city of Johannesburg. He was also a founding director of Ekuphumuleni hospice. He played an important role in the creation of Tirisano Inner-city Housing Co-operative – an initiative to help people buy flats in the inner-city of Johannesburg on a rent-to-buy basis.
He was a reporter with Eyewitness News.
Moyo was a pro-Israel activist and raised money by offering to run in the Jerusalem Marathon for the DL link, a cancer survivor organisation.
Moyo was the Deputy President of the Association of Independent Publishers.
Kathy Kaler is the CEO 0f Chai FM, a Johannesburg based radio station and is host of the Afternoon Drive Show.
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 first Prime Minister, Golda Meir, recognized 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.
Israel’s paltry trade with South Africa during Apartheid era
By Rolene Marks
Israel Apartheid Week will wind its hate filled way across the world in March and April – one of the main accusations is Israel’s support of South Africa during Apartheid. Lay of the land sets the record straight.
Israel’s detractors love to compare the Jewish state to Apartheid South Africa. This is not a comparison based on facts but rather part of a greater campaign to paint Israel as a pariah state and deal out the same sort of isolation through boycotts and sanctions as was done to South Africa during the height of Apartheid.
Many try to single out Israel as the only country during those years to have had any dealings with South Africa but on closer inspection, trade and co-operation between the two countries was so minute to that of other countries whose trade with the Apartheid government registered in the billions of dollars.
While Israel’s cooperation with the Apartheid regime is a cause of much embarrassment to me as both a South African and an Israeli, Israel’s role in not standing up to Apartheid is insignificant in comparison to other countries.
Focus on the Facts
Israel’s total amount of trade with the then Apartheid government was a mere $200m dollars per annum compared to:
– U.S.A – $3.4 billion
– Japan – $2.9 billion
– Germany – $2.8 billion
– U.K. -$2.6 billion
– Arab countries – $3 billion
The Arab countries could have brought the Apartheid regime to its knees – if it wanted to! It didn’t.
It was the oil tankers from Iran and Saudi Arabia which kept the wheels of Apartheid oiled. Arab oil exports to South Africa totaled more than $3 billion per year and, if that supply had been cut off, would have ended apartheid in the 1960’s!
The Saudi and Iranian human rights records are abysmal and constitute some of the worst human rights violators in the world today. Nonetheless South African government officials frequently visit both countries. The singling out of Israel for opprobrium smacks of a horrendous double standards when one considers that in Iran, homosexuals are hung from cranes, and the ruling government has no compunction in denying the Holocaust or calling for the destruction of the Jewish state.
This occurs all the while parading their ballistic missiles through the streets of the capital, Teheran!
France supplied Apartheid South Africa with weapons, nuclear material and financial aid, Switzerland the USA and Britain funded the Apartheid regime, Germany supported the racist regime in extensive trade. I include a few of the thousands of examples that can be sited:
Royal Dutch/Shell’s subsidiary, Shell South Africa, was involved in extensive operations in the petroleum, mining and chemical industries of South Africa and Namibia, with an estimated turnover of more than US$2 billion in South Africa in 1989.
In 1962 Britain’s ICI and South Africa’s De Beers each put £5 million into AECI (African Explosives and Chemicals Industries) to set up three new plants producing tear gas, ammunition for small arms, anti-tank and aircraft rockets.
British Leyland’s South African subsidiary supplied Land Rovers that were used by the South African police against students in the 1976 Soweto uprising.
The human rights records in Iraq, Libya, Syria have resulted in many hundreds of thousands of civilian deaths. Once again, South African government officials have no problem visiting these human rights violators, and those that purport to be human rights activists, like the BDS movement, remain silent and raise no issues of concern?
One must ask if a special standard is applied to the Jewish State and why?
It appears that perspective has little to do with the assumptions made about the historical relationship between Israel and South Africa. It also looks as if human rights are not a factor when dealing with bilateral relations between South Africa and other countries. When South African leaders visit Russia, perpetrator of some of the greatest crimes against humanity in modern times in places like Syria and Chechnya, and which in 2014, invaded and then occupied the Crimea in the independent Ukraine, they never raised any issues of concern.
Why does South Africa – that maintains that its “legacy” obliges it to take issue wherever and whenever human rights are grossly violated – remain silent against gross violations by Russia?
When the ANC hosted internationally criticised Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal in South Africa – a man responsible for attempted genocide against the Jewish people – there were photo ops and soundbites instead of condemnation.
And therein lies the rub!
When a special standard is applied to Jews and the Jewish state, it leads people to ask some very troubling questions.
Israel is a free, vibrant albeit flawed democracy. Is the Jewish state culpable as its detractors try make out?
The facts speak otherwise.
When it comes to historical trade relations between the two countries, Israel’s opponents are intentionally defaming the Jewish state ‘making mountains out of molehills’ by way of lies and deception.
Israel Apartheid Week (IAW) is an international annual series of events held all over the world around February, March and April with the stated purpose of spreading information regarding the plight of the Palestinian people and rallying support for their cause. The 2019 series of events takes place from 16th March until 14th April. On April 1st 2019, the South African IAW shall commence.
There will be rallies, speeches, protests, presentations, workshops, even concerts, poetry readings and films, a huge festival of sorts, all designed, according to their website, to ‘raise awareness of Israel’s apartheid policies’ and ‘gain support for the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel campaign’.
This movement has much support especially in South Africa where it is known what the racist apartheid regime was and so it is easy to attract local support to an ‘anti-apartheid’ cause. People in South Africa and throughout the world jump onto the BDS bandwagon genuinely wanting to support the apparent underdog. Who wouldn’t want to support the underdog?
If you are reading this and happen to be one of the very passionate people fighting for the rights of the Palestinian people, I implore you, as free-thinking and passionate individuals who care for the well-being of others, to consider the below responses to the arguments generally put forward:
“Israel is practicing ethnic cleansing and genocide against the Palestinian people”
How is it possible for the Palestinian population to have grown from around 650,000 in 1948 to over 4.6 million now if Israel is engaged in constant ethnic cleansing? And if there is this ethnic cleansing going on, how is it that Israeli society is made up of millions of Muslim Arab and Christian citizens? It does not make sense.
“The Palestinian people are denied having a Palestinian State”
“Jews build / expand settlements in disputed areas”
Why is there a push to support the Palestinian people to be such ethno-fascists that it is somehow deemed ‘understandable’ if someone ‘loses all sense’ and murders people (including stabbing children to death) because of not wanting Jews to live among them or even build a shed on their own properties, for example? Should we not be more concerned that non-Muslims are, to put it euphemistically, not welcome in Palestinian areas? If those areas become a Palestinian State, then those Jews who live there should have the option of deciding whether to move in order to remain citizens of Israel, or become citizens of Palestine. Much like what should happen in the formation of any state.
“Israel can end the conflict by giving land over to the Palestinian Authority
Israel has given land in the past, but nothing has changed with regards to the Jihad waged against Israel and the stream of rockets being fired into Israel. Why is this not questioned by those wholeheartedly standing against Israel by default of standing for the Palestinian people?
(Courtesy of MEMRI)
Be a courageous game-changer and question this. Supporting any boycott of Israel without investigating for oneself whether or not these allegations against Israel are true, not only puts supporters of Israel (or Jewish people in general as has been seen in many incidences around the world) in danger, but also prevents growth, learning, understanding and dialogue. It prevents the ingredients needed in the first place for peaceful resolutions.
Comparing Israel to apartheid South Africa does a gross disservice to those who suffered through apartheid.
Don’t simply jump on the IAW and BDS band-wagons. Be for the Palestinian people by questioning their leadership, not by being against countries which help them, including Israel. Supporting BDS ironically hurts the Palestinian people by putting the blame on others for their leaders’ crimes.
Courtesy of Israel Collective
“Sharon Salomon is a South African, Israeli living in Johannesburg. She is the granddaughter of Auschwitz survivors, and of those who were smuggled from Iraq to Israel in the 1950’s. She remembers little bits of Apartheid as a young child and her parents being fiercely against. She is passionate about being a voice for truth and dialogue believing it to literally save lives. She is the director and founding member of Race Against Extinction supporting tiger conservation. She holds a BSc in Mathematical Sciences and consults as a Business Analyst.”
Israeli consortium bids for South African food & beverage behemoth
By David E. Kaplan
Contrary to those half-witted South African politicians who advocate keeping their distance from Israel, are the astute in the country’s business community who think the positive opposite. The operative word is “THINK” as this week reveals a proposed marriage of South Africa’s beverage giant Clover with Israel’s Coca Cola.
Of course, a deal is only a deal when all is signed – but why keep this news ‘bottled’ up – when the champions for enterprise and entrepreneurship in both South Africa and Israel are so enthused to see ‘golden’ opportunities above ground rather than the usual mineral subterranean variety.
Heading a consortium called MilCo, Israel’s Central Bottling Company (Coca Cola Israel) submitted a bid to acquire control of Clover, in a deal that values the South African public traded company at $359 million (NIS 1.3 billion). The consortium is offering the SA food producer’s shareholders R25 per share, which will amount to 59.5% of the SA food producer.
Interestingly, while Clover traces its history back to 1898 with farmers meeting in the lush pastures of the Natal Midlands to discuss the establishment of a butter factory, only a year earlier in 1887, 208 delegates met at a hotel in Basel Switzerland where the modern Zionist movement was birthed under the chairmanship of Theodor Herzl.
Trajectories of both affirm that with determination, passion, grit and self-belief, the impossible becomes possible.
While Clover Industries produces milk and juices, has 8,000 employees and owns 13 production facilities throughout South Africa, the Central Bottling Company is the fourth largest manufacturer of consumer products in Israel. It owns a number of leading brands, headed by Coca Cola Israel, Tara Dairy, and other beer and soft drink brands.
Eran Elsner, who manages the Central Bottling Company’s overseas business, said, “The Central Bottling Company group believes that its activity is synergetic with the activity of the company in South Africa. There is a reciprocal contribution of knowledge and experience between the Central Bottling Company group and the overseas companies, which is channeled towards innovation and business development, while providing added value to consumers, who are always foremost in our considerations.”
Other members of the MilCo consortium are Ploughshare Investments, which will buy 10.9%, and IncuBev, which will buy 8.3%. The latter is an international business focused on the food and beverage sectors in sub-Saharan Africa.
A barometer of the excitement following the announcement, Clover’s share price jumped 19% to R23.80 on Monday morning after the JSE opened.
At the same time in Israel, CBC, whose subsidiary companies serve more than 160-million consumers worldwide, made the following press release:
“CBC is Israel’s leading manufacturer and distributor of beverages and, through its foreign subsidiaries, has manufacturing and distribution operations in Turkey, Romania, and Uzbekistan. CBC, which is also the owner of the Tara dairy, Israel’s second-largest milk processing dairy, produces and distributes its own brands and Müller brands, and it operates the license for the Müller brand in Romania.”
CBC also owns Gat Foods, a “grove to table” juice operation with customers in more than 70 countries. In addition, CBC works closely with its international franchisors, including The Coca-Cola Company, Carlsberg, Anheuser-Busch InBev, the Müller Group and Diageo.
Further South African participation in the bid is Brimstone Investment Corporation (Brimstone) cementing its plans to further expand into the food sector.
“In addition to a long history of being one of South Africa’s most popular brands,” says Brimstone CEO Mustaq Brey, “Clover runs South Africa’s largest chilled and frozen goods distribution network and is well placed for further expansion. This made it an attractive investment proposition for the foreign direct investment which South Africa desperately needs if we wish to achieve the economic freedom our country deserves.”
Brey added that all of Brimstone’s investments are geared towards transforming the South Africa’s economy by creating shareholder value on a sustainable and responsible basis. “In this transaction, MilCo is adopting an owner-operator approach and a long-term investment horizon with a view to grow the dairy category as a whole, thereby benefiting local farmers and other suppliers throughout the value chain.”
Building for the Future
Clover has a “strong portfolio of brands and best distribution system in South Africa,” said Richard Izsak, CBC’s chief of staff and Israel Country Manager and Strategic Planning Director for The Coca-Cola Company’s Eurasia Group. “We want to build the company for the long term.”
While foreign takeovers of South African listed-companies have been a rarity in recent years, State President Cyril Ramaphosa has made clear that international investment is a centerpiece of his plans to revive the economy. The challenges are immense – weak economic growth and high unemployment and as warned by the US and the UK, “ongoing corruption scandals are a barrier to investment” as recently reported in South Africa’s Sunday Times.
This is not deterring Israel that has faith in South Africa.
Regarding the economy, says Izak, “CBC is investing for long term, even if there are some ups and downs in the short term.”
It’s the more the “downs” than “ups” that are keeping away much foreign investment, however Israel is ready and willing to invest.
Despite political currents and the diplomatic obstacles, the “Startup Nation” continues to enjoy a prosperous relationship with South Africa.
“South Africa is a country of unquestionable business potential,” said the head of the Israeli Economic Mission to Southern Africa Amit Lev in 2018 to the SA Jewish Report. “While it can be difficult at times, the trade relations between South Africa and Israel are mutually beneficial and have potential to improve both countries significantly.”
Noting that Israel’s trade with South Africa is low relative to business engagements with other countries – accounting for only 1% of overall trade – Lev expressed that “with the right approach and resources, there is an opportunity to make a difference in the markets of both Israel and South Africa.”
Lev discounts the impact of BDS as a challenge for business. While these threats must be addressed, “our success stories outnumber such problems.”
There are many advantages to carrying out business in South Africa. “Besides being a portal to the rest of Africa,” said Lev, “the country has a growing economy, a sophisticated banking system which is compatible with Israel’s, and it is a member of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) group.
“Also, the country is a top agriculture producer, and the issues it is currently facing regarding water are ideal for the implementation of business infrastructure and solutions from Israel. Israel has so much to share with South Africa in the water, hi-tech and agriculture sectors, and the opportunity for Israel here is immense.”
Reflecting on the economic achievements Israel has notched up in the past 70 years, “Now is the time for Israel to mature its economic sector and move into its next 70 years of success. By creating multinational corporations, growing its trade network around the globe, exposing itself to more opportunities and inviting others to be a part of the growth, Israel can be enhanced and make giant steps in this magical movement of economy.”
While the business relationship between South Africa and Israel is promising, the Coca Cola bid for Clover indicates that the future could be even more promising.
No surprise when it has ‘academics’ like Oscar van Heerden peddling lies and falsehoods against Jews.
By David E. Kaplan
Where does one even begin in responding to University of Johannesburg academic, Oscar Van Heerden’s scurrilous diatribe posing as an article in the Daily Maverick (24th January 2019) that opens with inflammatory lies:
“The Palestinians are being decimated. Bombs are being dropped on them, rockets are deployed to kill them, and snipers are at the ready to finish the job where the other methods failed.”
This is classic antisemitism when you resort to antisemitic rhetoric blaming the Jews of Israel with such transparent falsehoods.
Even the words “finish the job” is a term taken straight from the intentions of the Nazi’s “Final Solution” and referencing it to Palestinians.
He intentionally neglects to mention Israel’s attempts at negotiation since the 1967 war being rejected. On September 1, 1967, the Arab League summit delivered the “Three No’s” – ‘no to peace with Israel’, ‘no recognition of Israel’, and ‘no negotiations with Israel’.”
Van Heerden does not mention this nor does he write of the constant terrorism, rockets fired at Israeli civilian populations and tunnels built for terrorists to enter Israel and murder civilians.
And how does this South African armchair academic portray this murder and attempted mass murder of Israelis:
“After all, one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter.”
It bothers not that this “academic” resorts to propaganda joining an infamous company that goes back 2000 years using hatred of Jews to deflect confronting the truth of societal problems. In the first century, the Jews were blamed for the death of Jesus; the 7th century Jews were persecuted by the Muslims for denial of the prophethood of Mohammad; in the Middle Ages, Jews were accused of the Black Death, the plague that decimated half of Europe; in 1881, Jews were accused of the assassination of Tsar Alexander II; from 1933-1945, Nazi propagandist referred to Jews as rodents and sub-humans (untermenschen) paving the way for factory-style mass extermination. Since 1948 and the Declaration of the State of Israel, the “Jewish enterprise” of Israel is a colonial blot on a Muslim landscape that requires being expunged.
At no stage does van Heerden address Palestinian intransigence – only blaming Israel. But the reason is clear, for Van Heerden is not seeking a solution for the Palestinian people but the dissolution of Israel’s Jewish people. He reveals his true agenda when not even supporting the official South African position of a “Two-State Solution” when he quotes:
“…So as we stand here on the 70th anniversary …of the Nakba, we have an opportunity to not just offer solidarity in words but to commit to political action, grassroots action, local action, and international action that will give us ….. a free Palestine from the river to the sea.”
In other words – no Israel.
And who is he trying to fool when he writes: “Palestinians are routinely punished for their political views rather than any actual threat of violence.”
Threats of violence?
How would he describe the firing of 500 missiles at Israel in November 2018? Lobbing over marshmallows?
South Africa that same November welcomed a delegation of Hamas from Gaza. Does South Africa want to play a role and support the ‘Two-State Solution’ or does it prefer to subscribe to the dark agenda of Hamas and Van Heerden of “a free Palestine from the river to the sea.”
Hamas has long proved its terror bona fides in line with its 1987 covenant expressing its religious duty to destroy the Jewish people and its nation state. Since 1993, Hamas has killed hundreds of Israeli civilians in mass-casualty suicide attacks throughout Israel. Hamas’ current terror crusade in Gaza has been engineered by Muslim Brotherhood groups in Europe and by Yahiya Sinwar, Hamas’ president, a former commander in the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam, Hamas’s military wing.
Sinwar is widely considered to be Hamas’ most ruthless leader since the organisation’s founding in 1987.
Is Pretoria aware that the Iranian regime has put Gaza “in play” as a chess piece as part of its regional strategy to destroy Israel and subvert countries across the Middle East?
Accordingly, Tehran’s $100-million funding of Hamas and Islamic Jihad in 2018 stands behind the terror campaign as the Islamic Republic’s southern front to destroy Israel. Simultaneously, the regime has placed some 175,000 Hezbollah rockets in Lebanon, pointed at the Jewish state, while tens of thousands of Iranian military operatives are ready to attack from Syria.
Iranian operatives under the command of Iranian Quds Force commander, Qasem Soleimani, together with Sinwar and the Hamas leadership, have been planning, financing, inciting and compensating tens of thousands of supporters, many of them young teenagers, to storm the internationally recognised border fence with Israel even at the risk of death. This is a far cry from how van Heerden describes the situation in the opening of his article!
Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar, referring to the Jews living in southern Israel near the border with Gaza:
“We will tear down the border and we will tear out their hearts.” Hamas operatives, camouflaged in civilian clothing to appear like innocent civilians, reportedly receive $1,000 to commit cross-border attacks. Hamas pledged $3,000 to the families of those killed by Israeli fire.
Palestinians injured by Israeli troops in the clashes receive $200-$500 in compensation, depending on the level of injury, while the Palestinian Authority pays thousands of dollars monthly for life if they are captured or killed, in line with PA legislation.
This is not a popular protest; it is part of Iran and Hamas’s grand strategy in its war of attrition to destroy the Jewish state.
Hamas leader Mahmoud Al Zahar – who visited South Africa in November 2018 – confirmed Hamas’ strategy in a May 13 interview on Qatar’s’ Al Jazeera network with:
“The Gaza protests are not peaceful resistance… It is supported by our weapons.”
Iran is using Gaza’s civilians to execute a new “popular warfare” strategy. According to a senior Palestinian Authority security official in Ramallah, Iranian elite Quds Force officers are entrenched in Gaza tunnels, assisting in the overall strategy and execution of the fence-storming terror campaign.
What van Heerden’s article also fails to address is that the fault lines of the Middle East have little to do with Israel. As Matti Friedman wrote last week in The New York Times:
“They run between dictators and the people they’ve been oppressing for generations; between progressives and medievalists; between Sunni and Shiite; between majority populations and minorities. If Israel’s small sub-war were somehow resolved, or even if Israel vanished tonight, the Middle East would remain the same volatile place it is now.”
Rather than subscribe to the propagandist writings of van Heerden, far better for South Africa to use its diplomatic influence to convince the Palestinians to stop incentivizing its youth to commit terror attacks and instead create a secure and stable and flourishing society based on human rights and equality – values South Africa has struggled for.
While in November 2018, a Hamas delegation from Gaza visited Cape Town and called for Jihad against Israel, in January 2019, it was visiting Israelis doing the talking – but with a different message.
Debating teams from Israeli universities won top honours at UCT (University of Cape Town) against the best universities in the world.
ByDavid E. Kaplan
Israel is full of surprises. Situated in one of the most dry regions on the planet, Israel has far less of a water problem than Cape Town, which for Israel has an enviable supply. The answer to this anomaly might explain how a Hebrew-speaking country bested in debate, teams from the best universities in the world – notably Oxford and Cambridge.
The World University Debating Championships – the largest student-run event globally – was hosted by the University of Cape Town from the 27 December 2018 to the 4 January 2019 and included students from Malaysia, Germany, Mexico, Nigeria and the United States who descended on the city in hopes of becoming world champions.
That honour went to Israel.
It was Israel’s prestigious Hebrew University of Jerusalem debate team that won the World Universities Debate Championship in South Africa’s ‘Mother City’, in the English Second-Language category, in other words, not in their ‘mother’ tongue.
Roy Shulmann and Elaye Karstadt competed against thousands of students from 20 countries winning the judges over “on stances on a multitude of current events.”
In addition to Shulmann and Karstadt’s defeat of the Russian, Malaysian and Japanese teams in the final round of the championships, the Tel Aviv University (TAU) team, made up of Israeli Debating League chairman Amichai Even-Chen and Ido Kotler, made it to the final rounds of the general Open competition, which included native English speakers from around the globe. They competed against some of the top universities in the world, including Oxford and Harvard.
“Debate is not only a sport, but rather a unique tool for the development of logical and rhetorical capabilities,” said Shulmann. “It exposes students to a wide range of opinions, challenges their positions, and gets them to truly listen to the other side and answer the heart of the issue instead of the heart of the person.”
Shulmann said he hoped to “encourage a different ‘discussion culture’, one that allows us as a society to hold a real dialogue regarding disputes.”
This was a far cry from the Hamas spokespeople who in November proudly signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) at Cape Town’s parliament that stated South Africa “will work towards the full boycott of ALL Israeli products and the support of the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign (BDS) against Israel; and will ensure that ANC leaders and government officials do not visit Israel.” And this MOU was signed only weeks after 500 missiles were fired in under 24 hours into Israel from Hamas-ruled Gaza – one of which struck a bus.
While Hamas in Cape Town championed support for murder, Israelis in Cape Town spoke about holding “a real dialogue regarding disputes.”
And who won?
Hebrew University debate team chairman, Naama Weiss, said that the Israeli teams are “used to meeting students at the competitions from countries hostile towards Israel.”
They have to be.
Competing against the team from Malaysia in the finals, the Israeli debaters could not have put entirely out of their minds that the antisemitic Prime Minister of Malaysia, Mahathir Mohamad, has banned entry to Israeli paraplegic swimmers to compete in his country that will be hosting the World Para Swimming Championships in July.
Despite this, there were only “good vibes” between the participants of the competing countries at UCT.
“We never felt different,” said Weiss. “We actually become friends with them. It is important that we hold discussions with those that disagree with us, as well.”
Pity the Hamas delegation didn’t visit Cape Town a month later and hear these messages!
Mark My Word
Israeli debate teams achieved multiple successes throughout 2018. The same team of Even-Chen and Kotler, won last August the European Universities Debating Championship in Serbia in the English Second Language category. In that same competition, Noam Dahan and Tom Manor, also of Tel Aviv University, won the Open competition.
However, the international competition in Novi Sad, Serbia was not all fun and ‘debates’. The Qatar representatives repeatedly refused to participate in debates in which they were competing against Israel, stating on multiple occasions that they refuse to debate alongside an “apartheid state.” This is the same Qatar that is spending billions to build hotels, subways, shopping centers and stadiums ahead of the World Cup in 2022 but those working on the projects are mostly foreigners who are poorly paid and poorly housed, hidden from the rest of Qatari society, like outcasts. These wretched and abused workers live on the edge of the dream that they help build but are precluded from experiencing.
If ever there is apartheid, it is in Qatar!
Nevertheless, despite Qatari hypocrisy and attempts to politicise a major debate tournament by refusing to engage with students from Israel, the two Israeli teams topped the European Universities Debating Championship in Serbia.
If there were a prize for epic boycott failure, Qatar won it!
Its efforts to boycott debating Israel, ended up by getting BDS banned from European debates.
School Of Thought
Israeli university debating teams doing so well internationally may partly be explained because Israeli schools too are doing so well.
Afterall, one feeds the other.
Debaters are given topics – sometimes with just an hour or two to prepare – and told which side they represent. They often find themselves arguing the opposite of their personal beliefs. “That’s the idea,” said Maya Levi, 18, of Ohel Shem school in Ramat Gan. “In debate, beyond learning rhetoric, you learn how to think and see an issue from both sides. The challenge is stepping into someone else’s shoes when it’s not your point of view.”
The Israeli national high school debate team won the EurOpen debate competition in Stuttgart, Germany in November 2018, raising eyebrows for going undefeated for all 12 rounds of the competition.
The team beat 37 of the best debate teams in the world, including those of Germany, China and the USA.
Unbeaten throughout all twelve rounds was a rare achievement in debate, particularly for a team comprised of non-native English speakers.
Two of the members on the team, Maya Carmon and Omer Zilberberg, are students at the Atid High School for Arts and Sciences in Lod. The other students on the team, Tamir West and Tomer Zucker, study at the Israel Arts and Science Academy in Jerusalem and at Oleh Shem High School in Ramat Hasharon, respectively.
“It was a privilege to witness the team making history,” said Elijah Kochin, the team’s coach who accompanied them to Stuttgart.
“This generation of debaters is very talented,” said Miriam Kalman, a coach assisting the team leading up to the world championships in Sri Lanka. “We are looking forward to more success at the World Schools Debating Championships in 2019.”
Retired senior examiner for the English matriculation in Israel and who co-authored two English school textbooks, Stephen Schulman, expressed “hats off to our debaters” on hearing the results of the debating teams from Hebrew University and Tel Aviv University at his alma mater – UCT. Shulmann felt a particular pride that Israel debaters made their mark in Cape Town where he grew up and was a member of his school’s debating society. “A true debater needs to be imbued with powers of eloquence, be a good listener, be sensitive to his or her audience and have a quick and ready wit to win over others. Our university teams showed that they possessed all these qualities to an outstanding degree and I feel a great pride by their showing South Africa and the world the fine intellectual standards of our students.”
This all augurs well for Israel spokespeople for the future.
With the passage of time, Southern African volunteers who fought in Israel’s 1948 War of independence are passing away, and with them, a living link to the genesis of modern Israel
By David E. Kaplan
Israel’s 1948 War of Independence , despite all the odds was won decisively.
So how come we are still fighting it?
Mainly because of the nature of what is “decisive”. The current theatre of battle is not “On the Ground”, “in the Air” and “at Sea” but “in the court’ of world opinion”. Today’s “Battleplan” involves documenting and securing the truth, so that the history of the War of Independence is not subverted by revisionists and purveyors of falsehood as is wont by BDS in South Africa that ‘attacks’ Israel not over its dispute over territory but its very existence. It opens the file not of 1967, when Israel conquered the West Bank in a defensive war, but the “1948 file” that transforms the Israel-Palestine debate from a negotiation over territory, into an argument about the conflict’s older and deeper roots – the establishment of a Jewish state.
Who has been spearheading the campaign of recording the role of volunteers who came to fight in Israel’s war of birth in 1948 is former South African, Smoky Simon, Chairman of World Machal, today 98 years old. (The word MACHAL is an acronym for the Hebrew, Mitnadvei Chutz L’Aretz, meaning “Volunteers from Overseas.”)
Once a fighter plane navigator, Smoky is still ‘navigating’; this time securing a flight path towards educating the young and the old, Israelis and foreigners on the existential contributions to the 1948 war by the 4500 volunteers from abroad – over 800 of them Southern Africans – who put their futures on hold, and risked their lives to fight for a nation in the making.
Sir Winston Churchill’s apt depiction after the Battle or Britain that “Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few” could equally apply to the debt the State of Israel owes to these volunteers.
They left jobs, interrupted their studies, and some even postponed weddings, while others brought their weddings forward to come on ‘honeymoon’ to fight in Israel’s War of Independence as did Smoky and his wife, Myra, who was the first meteorological instructor in the Israeli Air Force. “Many of her graduates became squadron and base commanders,” reveals Smoky proudly.
Literally rescheduling their lives, they dropped everything to come and fight for the fledgling Jewish state. In cockpits and on board ships, in tanks and armored vehicles, treating the wounded in hospitals and on the front lines, these young idealistic men and woman – Jews and non-Jews – helped change the tide in Israel’s War of Independence and forged the birth of a nation.
One in this illustrious “band of brothers” who participated in the most exciting adventure for a Jew in 2000 years was another former South African from Johannesburg, Joe Leibowitz, who passed away in January 2019 in Hod Hasharon in central Israel. It is important with the passing of these Machalniks to record and relate the service they performed.
Joe was born in Lithuania “where a Jew knew what anti-Semitism was” and came to South Africa at the age on nine. Then, three years after WWII and the prospect of a Jewish state, “I was torn to pieces inside. I had a strong feeling that we had a moral pact with the slaughtered Six Million of Nazi Europe. This was the first chance to fight back against a world that hadn’t cared.”
He reveals in writings recorded in Henry Katzew’s “South Africa’s 800 – The Story of SA Volunteers In Israel’s War of Birth” that his thoughts at the time were “mixed up with other things.” He felt he was “in rebellion against the old supine ways. Our rabbis used to snatch us indoors when we threw stones at Gentiles throwing stones at us. The rabbis broke our spirit before we could develop it. Turning the other cheek was no answer.”
Then when Philip Zuckerman of the South African Zionist Federation approached him to serve, 21 year-old Joe volunteered without hesitation. “The battle inside me was resolved. I could be helpful to my people.”
The ‘Plane’ Truth
Arriving in pre-state Israel on the 10th May 1948, this ex-SAAF air gunner WWII veteran with 102 sorties under his belt in North Africa and Italy, noted at Sde Dov airfield in Tel Aviv, that the strength of the nascent State’s “Air Force” comprised “two Rapides, a Fairchild and a Bonanza (ZS BWR).”
Hardly a force to hold back invading armies coming in from all directions!
With no option of being an air-gunner, Joe teamed up with South African pilot, Elliot Rosenberg, becoming a “bomb -chucker” of one of the Rapides, a fabric covered bi-plane. “Bomb-chuckers” as they were called, carried 25 and 50 pound bombs on their laps, and on reaching the enemy target, the safety pins were released and the bombs were manually dropped onto the target.
It was a nerve-wracking business – so much could go wrong!
With the door of the plane removed, “there was always the possibility,” said Joe that “in leaning over while chucking out the bomb to slip, and follow the bomb.” The plane carried no parachutes and communication between the pilot and “chucker” was by torch with “a flash from the pilot, indicating “Over target” , and a flash from the “chucker” “All bombs unloaded.”
Despite the lack of sophistication of the nature of this war over the skies of Israel, there was some compensation for the airman recalled Joe: “We were so admired by the local Israelis that we were always treated to free meals in restaurants and free haircuts at the barber shop.”
Joe recalled the strains of those early days of the war. One morning the legendary Moshe Dayan came striding into Airforce O.C. Aharon Remez’s office demanding to know why the Air Force was “sitting on its arse.” He had reason to be angered; Israeli units were being hard pressed at several points by the invading Arab armies. However, the men on the ground had little understanding of the war in the air and “how the bombs thrown out could as easily fall among the Israeli men on the ground as among the enemy.”
Joe recorded an experience when the Israeli forces were pinned down along the “Burma Road” to Jerusalem and a Palmach unit was surrounded and radioed in for support. “We had to drop by parachute, two Piat guns and two bags of ammunition.” Complicating the mission, “we had no wind intelligence and no calculation of drift allowance and a real danger of the Piat and the ammo falling into enemy hands.”
With the door of the Rapide removed, there was only the metal handle on the side with the ammo bags tied to the handle until ready for the push. Joe used his feet against the banking of the plane. Then, “a mysterious thing” happened over at the 4th attempt of the drop. The metal handle broke and Joe would have gone hurling into space with the bag had not the pilot, Elliot Rosenberg, at that precise moment tilted to port. “The mystery is that from the cockpit, Elliot could not see me and had no logical reason to tilt. Some mysterious instinct came into play that ensured that Joe’s passing was delayed by over seven decades – “How did Eliot know something was wrong, we spoke about it for years afterwards.”
Close shaves were Joe’s calling card, even when not in the air. On one occasion during a UN brokered truce, Joe had an unsettling encounter with Count Folke Bernadotte, the UN Security Council mediator, known to be most unsympathetic to the new State of Israel.
“We had just landed with supplies at Sdom in the Negev desert, and who surprisingly was there was Bernadette who came up to me and asked what supplies we had brought.” Only knowing a few Hebrew words, Joe said:
“Ani medaber rak ivrit” (I only speak Hebrew)
Bernadette tried German.
“Rak Ivrit,” Joe repeated.
This went on until Bernadotte was distracted, never discovering that among the crates of carrots were hand grenades, certainly a violation of the truce agreement, “but this was a fight for survival.”
In truth it was.
The Machalniks’ contribution represents one of the proudest chapters in modern Jewish history, when ordinary people – like Joe Leibowitz and the over 800 Southern African volunteers – behaved quite extraordinarily. As Israel’s first Prime Minister Ben-Gurion said:
“This was a war not won by heroes. It was won by ordinary men and women rising above themselves.”
Above and Beyond. Short clip of volunteer fighter pilots in Israel’s War of Independence.
A Call to Doctors in Israel – are you ‘game’ to enjoy the best of South Africa’s superlative nature while volunteering your medical expertise?
By David E. Kaplan
They say, ‘South Africans may leave South Africa, but it never leaves them’. This was so for Neil Tabatznik originally from Johannesburg and today living in Toronto who has “returned” with a difference, offering doctors across the world an experience of a lifetime.
“Imagine a luxurious five-star lodge where you can braai (barbeque) under a star-filled sky and watch game having a drink while relaxing in the pool after your day at the hospital or a clinic,” said Alan Epstein of Tel Aviv and head of Tshemba PR in Israel.
You don’t have to imagine!
“Whether you are a GP, a gynecologist, pediatrician, cardiologist, endocrinologist, orthopod, optician or dentist – you name it – whether in practice or retired, you can take up this offer of a lifetime of enjoying in luxury the incomparable beauty of the Limpopo region, what used to be known as the Eastern Transvaal, a stone throw from the Kruger National Park and close to Blyde River Canyon.”
For a minimum of two weeks or six months or more, this is available to doctors by volunteering their expertise at a nearby hospital or local clinics. “And of course, this includes doctors bringing their spouses or partners.”
It all began when Alan’s lifelong friend, Neil Tabatznik, on a trip some years ago to South Africa from Canada, visited a game lodge in the Hoedspruit area.
It introduced an awakening that transformed his life from successful businessman to inspired philanthropist and fulfilling the ancient aspiration in Judaism of Tikun Olam (“Correcting the world”).
Out On The Range
While sitting up front in a Range Rover and mesmerised by the beauty of the terrain and wildlife, Neil was also struck that beneath the veneer of this beauty there were also serious challenges in this exquisite region. As if reading his thoughts, the game ranger enquired whether Neil would consider building a school for young children.
“He explained the community had built a room and found a headmaster but was far from adequate,” reveals Neil.
Following the school being built and flourishing with young pupils, Neil felt the need to do more and sat down with the local tribal chief and asked:
“How else can I help?”
“We need drastically to improve our health services in the area,” replied the chief. “To say it’s inadequate would be an understatement and because we are far from the major urban areas, my people are suffering from being denied access to specialised medical treatment.”
Visiting a local dental clinic, the chief’s word struck home. “The clinic was a fine facility but there were no dentists!”
This was a microcosm of the problem – while there were sufficient structures there were too few qualified medical practitioners to staff them.
So the idea was conceived not to build unnecessary structures but to recruit qualified personnel.
What Neil witnessed in his extensive touring of the region “was so tragic”, the more so because much of the tragedy was preventable – “its man made and can be man corrected.”
Failing to provide access to adequate medical services “meant that people’s health was always at risk and getting sick or injured could so easily lead to tragic consequences – a result that would not happen in a city,” lamented Neil.
This he was determined to change!
And so, the Tshemba Foundation was established on the premise that if a patient could not get to a health service in a faraway urban area the health service will come to the patient.
Tshemba, which means “believe” in local parlance, recruits doctors and healthcare professionals from all across the world to provide lifesaving medical care to the local community and training to local healthcare providers. A key component of the volunteer experience “is to ensure skill transfer to these local medical providers to provide long-term sustainability,” says Neil. “In this way, every volunteer practitioner creates a lasting legacy – a legacy of saving lives.”
“There are so many South Africans in the medical field in Israel – many also that have retired – who I am sure would relish this opportunity of enriching South Africa and in the process, enrich themselves,” says Alan Epstein, who emigrated from South Africa to Israel in 1978 and who owns and operates Anglo-Saxon real estate in Savyon. Alan is the oldest franchise holder of the Israeli company that was established in 1964 by another South African, the late Dave Blumberg.
“South African doctors have made an enormous contribution to medicine in Israel and I feel many of them would enjoy giving back to South Africa while at the same time enjoying the experience with the 5-star luxury on offer.”
He invites all interested to be in touch with him.
Tshemba needs doctors, both general practitioners and specialists, as well as professionals with healthcare experience and expertise.
All medical volunteers must be fully licensed to practice in South Africa but those who are not, “we will do our best to obtain all necessary permits and licenses on your behalf,” explains Barbara McGorian, the CEO of Tshemba Foundation. “If we receive all the right documentation, the process usually takes only about three weeks.”
“Tshemba will place you where you are most needed,” says Barbara, “whether at the Tintswalo Hospital, a 20-minute drive away, or in one of the many clinics spread throughout the community.” Tintswalo is a 423-bedded acute hospital providing maternity, psychiatric, orthopedic, surgical and general medical care to the community. The hospital is also responsible for providing medical staff to several community clinics in the area.
Tshemba also funded the Hlokomela Women’s Centre – a pioneering healthcare project which provides breast and cervical cancer screening as well as treatment to local farm workers and their families. It is the first of its kind in the region.
Leaving a Legacy
In order to maintain the appropriate level of care once the volunteer experience is over, it is imperative that skills and expertise are transferred to the local healthcare providers.
In pursuit of this aim, says Barbara, “Be prepared to teach and to train the local personnel you work with, encourage training, motivate them to actively continue their skill acquisitions and wherever possible, stay in touch with the doctors or nurses left behind after your departure.”
A visit to the Tshemba website, acquaints one with one of Muhammad Ali’s most famous quotes:
“Service to others is the rent you pay for your room on earth.”
Well, for voluntary service at Tshemba, the “room” one receives is the ultimate in luxurious accommodation at a scenic hideaway surrounded by the lowveld bush filled with an array of game, bird species, fauna and flora.
The five-star lodge boasts nine stand-alone en-suite chalets that can accommodate up to 18 volunteers in total. Each chalet has a private deck with a breathtaking view of the bush, a tea and coffee nook and a small lounge area. All the rooms are self-catering, although there is also a communal area for dining and socializing featuring two comfortable lounge areas with a fireplace, a fully-equipped, state-of-the-art kitchen and scullery and a spacious dining room, a TV room and a gym.
“Best of all,” says Epstein who was there recently with his wife, “you can relax outside by the wooden deck and infinity pool and enjoy the superb views of the Klein Drakensberg Mountains and a watering hole that draws the animals of Moditlo Private Game Reserve.”
Also on offer are:
Self-drive game viewing in the Kruger National Park
Guided expeditions on private game reserves
Wildlife photography tours
The Moholoholo Animal Rehabilitation Centre
The Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre & Cheetah Project
The Khamai Reptile Park
Hiking, driving, boat or air Blyde Canyon tours
White river rafting
Hot air ballooning
Handcraft curio shops
Best Of Both Worlds
“What motivates doctors to volunteer?” I ask.
“It’s an amalgam of love of medicine, a love of South Africa and the yearning to give back to society,” says the CEO.
The general response from volunteers, many of whom choose to return, is “we get the best of both worlds. We are able to enjoy a beautiful game reserve while at the same time make a difference with our skills and expertise as doctors to a community in need.”
Says Dr. Kate Meyer from the UK, “I loved every moment of it. It was a privilege to have participated in the project, which I think is an incredible gift to the community.”
Volunteers are essentially providing ‘first world’ care to a ‘third world’ area.
“It was a wonderful experience both socially and professionally,” expressed Dr. Paul Deveux from South Africa who worked at the hospital and was also thankful for his hours at the Hlokomela Women’s Centre, “which is an extremely well organized.” Praising the local staff, “I felt I made my best contribution there because I was able to see psychiatric patients with longstanding anxiety disorders, some which could be managed and others who needed further intense assessments.”
For nurse Maureen Dunnett, specialising in Midwifery who traveled with the hardworking Hlokomela Clinic staff to farms and other clinics said, “Every day was a different experience for me. The time spent around HIV-testing and treating was illuminating.”
“I would not change it for anything and would definitely come back,” said Dr. Tienie Theunissen, also from within South Africa.
“All the volunteers find it rewarding,” says Barbara. “We recently had a German couple; she was a gynecologist and he a banker. So while she worked at the hospital, he volunteered teaching math at a local school and found the experience as rewarding as his wife.”
The hospital can deliver anywhere between 13 to 20 babies a day; we brought in thirteen babies on Christmas day.”
Going on ‘Jobbymoon’
Located in what many would describe as one of the most beautiful areas in South Africa, it’s understandable how the sobriquet “JOBBYMOON” has caught on.
If newlyweds go on honeymoons and parents-to-be take babymoons -– so why not a ‘Jobbymoon’ for couples desiring that totally out-of-the-ordinary working holiday in the most idyllic location.
The Tshemba lodge is located midway between the world-famous Kruger National Park and the world’s largest green canyon, the Blyde River Canyon. “Thus, if you or your partner want to go exploring during your downtime, we assure you you’ll find something spectacular to do,” says Barbara. The ‘jobbymooners’ are free to explore Hoedspruit and surroundings, to re-energise before returning home “with a fresh mindset, ready to tackle new challenges, focused and refreshed.”
Says Dr. Hennie Nortje a Diabetologist, “Although the staff is completely overwhelmed by the amount of work, they are hungry for knowledge and incredibly friendly. Even the patients are humble, friendly and unbelievably grateful. The whole experience left me in awe. I’m excited to see how the new diabetic educators are doing and my wife enjoyed teaching at the preschool at Hlokomela.”
Dentist, Maria Pestana felt blessed by the Tshemba experience. “When I saw an article on this unique project, I knew Tshemba might offer a very different experience – to help people in rural areas while at the same time enjoying the bush. It’s a balance between the beauty of nature and the reality of life.”
For former South Africans now living in Australia, Gerrit Burger, a physician volunteered and his wife Diana, a General Practitioner, felt” humbled by the sense that we received so much more blessing from this experience than those we sought to help.”
Gerrit feels convinced that “Tintswalo hospital and district can be developed into a model of healthcare with far-reaching effects, well beyond South Africa itself. Without fear of exaggeration, we see a time when Tshemba and Tintswalo will be ‘ideas’ rather than ‘names’.”
“Amazing things” are happening every day at Tshemba.
Tshemba’s Project Specialist, Lexi Cohen says: “I interact with most of the volunteers and each one has found the experience to be rewarding and very fulfilling whether in patient care, skills transfer or general contact with staff.”