South Africa Hangs in the ‘Balance’

South Africa’s Chief Justice under fire for acting like a judge!

By David E. Kaplan

Should not a country’s Justices – even more notably its Chief Justice – be imbued with the qualities of “open-mindedness”; of willing to hear and consider the views of all sides of a case?

In other words, possessing a mindset that is  “balanced”.

 Law students, long before they ever enter a courtroom are only too familiar with the Latin phrase Audi alteram partem meaning “listen to the other side”, or “let the other side be heard as well”. It is the principle that no person should be judged without a fair hearing and in which each party is given the opportunity to respond to the evidence against them. It is a fundamental principle of legal systems the world over and most certainly in South Africa where I studied and practiced Criminal Law. I quoted it regularly, not so much in court where it was self-evident but in social situations whenever I was ‘accused’ of defending clients who “were obviously guilty”.

I would reply:

Audi alteram partem”.

Everyone deserves a fair hearing.

That same principle to people should apply no less to nations  – and in this case – the State of Israel. South Africa’s Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng understands; his ruling ANC government clearly does not.

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Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng. (Picture: Puxley Makgatho)

The ANC viciously turned on its Chief Justice following Mogoeng’s recent participation in a webinar hosted by The Jerusalem Post where he lamented his government’s “lopsided attitude” toward the Israel-Palestine conflict, adding that “it would have greater influence if it displayed a more balanced approach.” Mogoeng took part in the webinar along with South Africa’s Chief Rabbi, Warren Goldstein.

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The Three Chiefs. (Press on the picture to watch the discussion) South Africa’s Chief Justice, Mogoeng Mogoeng, Chief Rabbi Warren Goldstein with Jerusalem Post Editor-In-Chief Yaakov Katz moderating the discussion on Zoom. (Photo credit: screenshot)

The response was quick. The ANC’s National Spokesperson, Pule Mabe, said Mogoeng had entered the arena of “political commentary”, which could make him vulnerable to adjudicating on human rights matters in the future.

How so? By exhibiting understanding and exercising balance?

Is this not what one would expect from a judge, particularly from a Chief Justice?

The ANC spokesperson added:

 “It was rather unfortunate for the Chief Justice to state that the ‘South African government policy was binding upon himself and that he was not seeking to reject it’, but then clearly and openly opposes it as a citizen.”

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ANC spokesman Pule Mabe. (Photo by Gallo Images / City Press / Denvor de Wee)

The expectations of a judge relate to law, not to a political party’s policies not yet embodied in law. There is no law in South Africa – not yet at any rate –  that says a person, or a judge cannot express a viewpoint advocating open-mindedness and balance.

Yes, South Africa has “downgraded” its diplomatic relations with Israel, but it was an executive not a legislative “decision” to recall its ambassador. South Africa still runs an office in Tel Aviv that is staffed dealing with bilateral issues between the two countries. It is hoped that full diplomatic relations be resumed sooner rather than later.

Rather than criticize Mogoeng, the honourable Chief Justice should be praised for exercising the characteristics for which he was most likely first appointed.

South African citizens are cognisant that their country has uniquely three capitals – Pretoria the administrative capital, Cape Town the legislative and Bloemfontein the judicial. It is not so much the separation – geographically – of the three cities across the country that is significant but more the metaphor of the ‘separation of powers’ between the three branches of government. Chief Justice Mogoeng was not acting contrary to any law; he was questioning a prevailing controversial policy motivated by the BDS movement that is committed to Israel’s destruction, that he felt was not in his country’s best interests. The Chief Justice’s position is supported by South Africa’s own intent as seen over the years from the days when Nelson Mandela was president.

– How often has South Africa expressed that it would like to be a player in trying to resolve the intractable Israel-Palestine conflict?

– Have I not personally heard each South African ambassador to Israel remark every year on South Africa’s Freedom Day celebrations in Tel Aviv, how South Africa can, with its expertise in conflict resolution, help bring the parties together to try reconciling their differences?

– How often have I heard the response of Israeli politicians welcoming and thanking  South Africa’s offer with the words: “We have so much to learn from your experiences and expertise in conflict resolution.”

Well, you cannot be a player, or expect to be a player, if you are openly one-sided, only criticize one party to the conflict and display little or no understanding of the concerns of the other party to the dispute. This is something a judge would be keenly aware of and this is what Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng was expressing when he added at the webinar:

As a citizen of our great country, we are denying ourselves a wonderful opportunity of being a game-changer in the Israeli-Palestinian situation.”

South Africans should be proud of their Chief Justice for acting like a judge instead of him now being targeted by his government!

Following the webinar, the Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng has had many an insult hurled at him. According to some, he should “shut up and focus on judgements”, that he “is a disgrace”, “ignorant”, and “should step down”.

On the contrary. Born to a father who was a miner and a mother who was a domestic worker, young Mogoeng became politically active at high school and was briefly suspended for organising a memorial to the victims of the Soweto uprising. Senior Mogoeng knows all about the struggle and the issues involved.

No; he should not “step down”. On the contrary, the people of South Africa should “step up” to support him.

 

 

 

 

 

While the mission of Lay of the Land (LotL) is to provide a wide and diverse perspective of affairs in Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish world, the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by its various writers are not necessarily ones of the owners and management of LOTL but of the writers themselves.  LotL endeavours to the best of its ability to credit the use of all known photographs to the photographer and/or owner of such photographs

Jan Smuts vs Corona

A colossus against global evil – the Nazis –  how would South Africa’s WWII leader have shone today against a global disease – Covid-19?

By Philip Weyers, great-grandson of General Jan Smuts.

A few days ago, “Lay of the Land” Editor, Dave Kaplan, posed to me what I thought to be an interesting question:

“How would a Jan Smuts’ government have dealt with the Corona crisis?”

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Professor Frederic William Maitland (© National Portrait Gallery, London)

Before being a Soldier-Statesman, my grandfather was a brilliant scholar. While one of his tutors,  Professor Frederic William Maitland – regarded as the modern father of English legal history – said of Smuts “the most brilliant student” he had ever met,  Lord Todd, the Master  of Christ’s College, said that “in 500 years of the College’s history, of all its members, past and present, three had been truly outstanding – John MiltonCharles Darwin and Jan Smuts.”

While offered by his old Cambridge college, Christ’s College, a fellowship in Law, he declined, choosing instead to return to the Cape Colony, determined to make his future there. He sure did!

Apart from leading his country inspirationally through WWII, Smuts contributed substantially to the creation of both the League of Nations and the United Nations – writing the preface to the U.N. Charter. Participating in so many milestone happenings of the 20th century, it should come as little surprise  that the only person to have signed the charters of both the League of Nations and the United Nations was General Jan Christiaan Smuts. Sadly, Smuts’ United Party lost the election in 1948 to the Nationalist Party of D.F. Malan that introduced Apartheid  – system of institutionalised racial segregation – that existed to the early 1990s.

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Mobilising People Support. Smuts won the South African vote to join the war against the Nazis.

Of course with Smuts gone for nearly 70 years any attempt to answer the question relating to Corona would be purely speculative and based on our understanding of his personality and how in the past he confronted monumental challenges.

I do however believe we have sufficient evidence to create at least some credible scenarios.

Covid-19 made its presence known with people dying in droves in Wuhan, China, subsequently high percentage of deaths followed in Italy, Spain, the UK and the USA where New York City has been the worst hit.

The South African Government did react relatively swiftly applying lockdown measures with individual movement restricted to medical reasons and the purchase of essential items. Socialising of any nature was forbidden. Initially there was understanding and compliance from the vast majority of the urban population, but in the informal settlements, life continued much as usual. It is important to note that the initial lockdown included prohibitions on the sale or purchase of inter alia cars, clothing, hardware, children’s toys, stationery including puzzles and of course the two “sin” items – alcohol and tobacco products.

 

It is reasonable to believe that Jan Smuts would have reacted in much the same manner initially; he would have been attempting by best means possible to combat what was for the entire world  – a complete unknown. It is also fair to believe that Smuts would have permitted a larger component of the South African economy to remain active than was the case, under conditions to minimise the transmission of the disease.

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Two Men And A Baby. In the gardens of the British Embassy in Cairo on the 23rd August, 1942, Winston Churchill (left) and Jan Smuts fuss over Victor Lampson, the baby son of the British Ambassador. (Photo: Birmingham Mail and Pos)

After nearly five weeks of what was advised to be “Stage-5” of the lockdown, President Ramaphosa advised that their efforts had been successful in slowing down the spread of Covid-19 and that there was to be a move to “Stage-4” on 1 May. Perplexing the public – some amusingly others irritatingly – the sale of alcohol remained illegal, while tobacco products could again be purchased. Much joy and relief followed this announcement, not least of all the11 million South Africans who smoke!

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Corona Crazy. A cartoon by Zapiro in the Daily Maverick that satirizes South Africa’s policies to Corona.

Those who were missing a drink resorted either to the highly active and exorbitant black-market or started brewing their own mampoer  – South Africa’s highly intoxicating “moonshine” derived mainly from pineapple. Within days of President Ramaphosa announcing a relaxation of the sale of tobacco products, it was announced by Nkosana Dhlamini-Zuma, Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, that the matter had been re-assessed and the tobacco would remain embargoed, resulting in astonishment and much anger amongst the population.

It is at this point I believe that Jan Smuts’ path would have taken a significantly divergent course to that adopted by the South African Government, and in a number of ways.

The Great Communicator

Jan Smuts was an accomplished communicator, and believed in the value of accurate, comprehensive, and regular communications. He was a prodigious correspondent and a highly accomplished writer – in longhand – of his own speeches. It would be inconceivable that at a time of such perceived threat and uncertainty, he would not regularly appear on all media platforms, placating and reassuring the population, certainly he would not have been silent for weeks at a stretch.

We can see today from Smuts’ many speeches how his voice resonated with his audience and how he instilled confidence. This is precisely what is needed today and is surely lacking!

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General Jan Christiaan Smuts

Furthermore, it would be inconceivable to believe that a Smuts Government would not have consulted every credible source of expertise covering such essential aspects as the economy, medical (in particular epidemiologists both locally and abroad), commerce and business and modelled the regulations imposed according to guidelines that he would have gleaned from such consultations. A balance between all critical elements would have been achieved as far as possible.

Smuts would have realised from the start that trying to legislate a population into compliance, would have produced at best short-term results. He would not have been autocratic, aggressive nor condescending when dealing with the people. He would have been well aware that compliance would result from cooperation rather than legislation, particularly when the regulations would seem  – with some justification –  to be nonsensical and of little tangible value.

To achieve public compliance would invariably have involved law-enforcement but certainly no heavy-handed and unnecessary force. Violent enforcement would not have been tolerated – particularly of petty contraventions.

There can be no doubt that following the initial lockdown and greater scientific data became available offering the wisest counsel to this “mystery disease”, Smuts would have moved swiftly to get the economy back on track. It would have been clear to Smuts that without revenue, a government is restricted in its ability to control or treat the virus.

Disrespect To Disregard

Essential to gaining the people’s support and compliance is to return their lives to as normal a situation as possible. Smuts would realise that a population will only adhere to regulations while they present at least some logic and make sense even at an unsophisticated level. Nonsensical and seemingly irrelevant restrictions would enjoy a short period of compliance before the public at large despaired and disregarded them. The extended restrictions on clothing, for one, were apparently devoid of logic and benefit.

One could buy a long-sleeved shirt, but not a short-sleeved one! Ladies could buy “winter” shoes but not shoes with open toes!

Smuts would not have countenanced such nonsensical regulations believing them rather to further aggravate an already incensed population.

One can of course hypothesize almost without end how the ‘soldier-statesman’ Smuts would have mounted a campaign to counter Corona. In truth, we could never really know. I sense that a Smuts Government would not have acted very differently to the Ramaphosa government in the initial four-week period, but beyond that period, there would have been a marked divergence.

Therefore I feel confident to surmise, that under a Smuts leadership, South Africans would be in far better position than that in which we currently find ourselves.

 

 

About The Writer

PHILIP WEYERS1.jpgPhilip Weyers is Past Executive Director of General Smuts Foundation. An “Amateur historian” on Jan Smuts, the South African Air Force and the Royal Air Force, Weyers is President Emeritus of the South African Air Force Association. He is currently a member of SAAFA NEC; SAAF/SAAFA Liaison, Foreign Relations. As a “Friend of Israel” and like the “Oubaas”, a confirmed Christian Zionist, he addresses audiences in Israel and England.

 

 

 

Trying To Pull The ‘Wool’ Over Africa’s Eyes

BDS South Africa’s wraps Palestinian headscarf over African continent in new logo

By David.E. Kaplan

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In the midst of the global Coronavirus crisis, BDS South Africa in its online newsletter dated March 20, announced that following consultations with several of its partners “in South Africa and on the African continent,” that the organisation will henceforth function under the name:

Africa for Palestine (AFP)”

While Africa is focused on protecting its populations from a killer virus, BDS South Africa is promoting and facilitating another kind of killer virus –  antisemitism, but now not only in South Africa but across the African continent.

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Antisemitism Over The Air. In this meme shared in March 2020, the coronavirus is depicted as being Jewish men.

Such is the ambition of BDS South Africa – excuse, Africa for Palestine!!!

With the African continent joining the world in trying to protect and save lives, BDS SA is moving in the opposite diabolical direction. What’s more, it brazenly does not disguise its nefarious intent as emblazoned in its new LOGO, with the entire continent of Africa ENVELOPED by a  Palestinian keffiyeh.

Does Africa really want to be branded by the headdress popularized by the likes of the late Yasser Arafat and the airline hijacker, Leila Khaled, the female member of the armed wing of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine?

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The Plane Truth. Hardly a role model for today in Africa, Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine hijacker Leila Khaled brandishing her firearm.

Of course not.

Who can forget the photographs of Khaled wearing the keffiyeh circulated in the Western newspapers after the hijacking of TWA Flight 840 and the Dawson’s Field hijackings.

In a continent committed to a better future of science, technology and innovation, branding with yesteryear’s  terrorism is not the way to go.

Does BDS South Africa really believe that Africa is gullible to this attempted “Hostile Takeover” as they graphically  articulate in its new spine-chilling logo?

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Under The Microscope. The message of this meme of a microbe is that “Zionism” not Coronavirus is the “deadliest virus on earth”.

The people of Africa will see through this façade of deception!

Coronavirus does not distinguish between nations and religions, between Jews and Arabs and yet BDS South Africa  is  diabolically and deceptively exploiting the virus to fan antisemitism and defame the Jewish state with fabrications.

 So while since March 19, 2020:

the Israeli government has sent hundreds of coronavirus testing kits to the Palestinian Authority and Gaza as well as 2,000 protective suits and twenty tons of disinfectants and 100 liters of sanitizing gel

Israeli doctors and specialists have been dispatched to the West Bank city of Jericho to train Palestinian medical teams to save lives in combating the coronavirus pandemic

Palestinian Authority officials Ahmed Deek and Hussein al Sheikh – responsible for cooperation between the PA and Israel – praised Israel’s assistance, particularly the Israeli government’s honoring of the PA’s request to provide accommodations in Israel for 45,000 Palestinian worker-commuters from the West Bank to reduce the risk of coronavirus infection

and:

The UN Security Council issuing a formal statement welcoming Israeli Palestinian cooperation against Corona stating that it “provided a blueprint for renewed peace talks” none of these Israeli measures had any impact on BDS South Africa’s leadership who proceeded to serve its regular platter of conspiratorial accusations against Israel, as part of its 2020 annual “Israel Apartheid Week”.

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Riveting Revelation. Israeli Arab, Yosef Haddad (left) vs BDS South Africa’s founder Mohammed Desai on national South African TV on the 19 March 2020.

On March 19, when Israel announced it was considering a complete lockdown over coronavirus, BDS South Africa’s founder Mohammed Desai, charged Israel with refusing to issue vital life-saving instructions in Arabic to Arabic speaking citizens and residents of the Jewish state. However, Desai’s accusation was immediately revealed as false on South African national television by the TV debate’s other guest, Israeli Arab, Yoseph Haddad, who called Desai a “liar”.

Said Hadad:

As an Arab Israeli, I got the instructions in Arabic; SO STOP LYING.”

He then proceeded to ask the founder of BDS South Africa, who advocates boycotts of Israel whether he would himself  boycott  Israel in the following scenario:

 “Israel today is working on a vaccine for Coronavirus. Should it discover a vaccine, would you use it?”

Mumbling and digressing in trying to dodge the question, Haddad persisted for an answer:

“Would you use it – Yes or No. The question is simple”

The BDS South Africa head refused to answer and then concluded with this disgusting yet revealing comment:

 “Israel’s expertise should not be used as an exercise of blackmail.”

He knew he had been exposed as the fraud he is, as is the organisation he founded and heads, and now seeks to re-brand or disguise!

There is also no “disguising” the true Mohammed Desai when one takes a closer at the print on the white T-shirt he wore for this debate on national TV’s prime time:

Beneath the large colorful Google logo, appears the Search Box with Israel typed in and then the question:

Did you mean Palestine?”

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True Colours Revealed. Mohammed Desai, founder of BDS South Africa wearing an offensive T-shirt negating the state of Israel in a debate on South African national television.

Clearly, the founder of BDS South Africa shares the same sentiments as the cofounder of the global BDS movement Omar Barghouti when he said:

The two-state solution for the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is finally dead. But someone has to issue an official death certificate before the rotting corpse is given a proper burial… Good riddance!”

For BDS South Africa’s founder – there is no partnership, no coexistence, no Jewish State; there is no Israel!  

All this finally begs the question:

Why  has BDS South Africa changed its name to the preposterous and presumptuous –  ‘Africa for Palestine’?

The answer lies not in any success but due to its failure.

BDS South Africa is rebranding because its hateful and hurtful message no longer resonates with most the of people of South Africa.

Rather than a  “rose”, the newly morphed BDS South Africa is  but:

“A Reptile By Another Name”

 

 

At 2:40 minutes into this short video clip, Israeli-Arab Yosef Haddad asks the head of BDS South Africa, Mohamed Desai whether he would use an Israeli-made coronavirus antidote.

Bravo To Academic Freedom

South Africa’s Premier University – UCT-  Rejects Call To Boycott Israeli Academic Institutions

By David E. Kaplan

Common sense prevailed.

Deciding in its own best interest, the University of Cape Town (UCT) decisively rejected this November; the call to boycott Israeli academic institutions and how does the pro-Palestinian lobby in South Africa react?

They blame “wealthy donors” and “Zionists

With this predictable antisemitic response to a solid, sound and sensible campaign at preserving UCT’s academic stature as the premier university in Africa, is it not time for South Africans to ditch BDS and its cohorts who are undermining the future of South Africa and many of its esteemed institutions in pursuit of its narrow nefarious agenda?

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Advocating Boycott. South African BDS advocate Prof. Farid Esack is among those supporting the academic boycott call against Israel. (Photo: File)

This was born out by revelations on the dirty tricks employed by BDS against Jewish students in South Africa by Wendy Kahn, National Director of the SAJBOD. Warning in a 21 November article of the disastrous ramifications to UCT of a boycott of Israel, she reveals that “The BDS on campus have impersonated SAUJS students to fool people into thinking that they represent an official Jewish body.”

Thankfully, at the 11th hour – after three years of wrangling – disaster was averted  not so much for Israel academic intuitions that enjoy enriching collaborative partnerships with the world’s most prestigious universities; but more so for the reputation and sustainability of UCT. May the decision further herald a warning to the would-be-hijackers of South Africa’s future – “beat it”.

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Moment Of Decision. The anti-Israel lobby tried to isolate Israel, but UCT realised the danger of internationally isolating itself instead. Result  – the UCT senate members voted against the resolution. (Tracey Adams/African News Agency)

Most endearing and might prove enduring was how alumni from across the globe came out of the woodwork and energized for a common cause – to defeat the resolution that would have in the words again of Kahn, “trampled the bedrock values of academic freedom upon which every credible institution of higher learning is necessarily founded.”

Galvanized From Around The Globe

It is not too often, apart from the infrequent class reunions, alumni from around the world really connect with each other or their Alma Mater.

This was different.

The proposed resolution was a trigger that awakened generations of UCT students from homes across all the continents.

No sooner had the South African Zionist Federation and the SAJBOD appealed for alumni to petition against the proposed UCT academic boycott, former students, reminded of their activism against Apartheid, got into action signing petitions, encouraging others to do so, writing articles and sharing their open letters to the University’s Vice-Chancellor, Registrar, Senate and Governing Council.

One of the multitude of letters written is this one from a 1969 science student living in Israel.

As a proud graduate of UCT (1969 B.Sc. Geology), a diligent member of the UCT Students Representative Council (1963), a committed member of the UCT Academic Freedom Committee and a former leader in the UCT Students Jewish Association, it is with a deep sense of outrage, shame and disgust to know that my former alma mater is planning to implement an academic boycott of Israel.

I have lived, studied and worked in the State of Israel since 1970 and, while no country can objectively claim to be perfect, I know that this embattled nation to be a true light of democracy, tolerance and freedom to the hostile world around it. The conflict with the Palestinians is a sad reality and one can only hope that the leaders on both sides will find the boldness and resources to reach a political solution which will provide security, economic prosperity and hope for better times to both people.

However, I fail to understand what makes Israel the unique target of UCT’s animus and imprecations to the extent that an academic boycott is being seriously contemplated. Has the distorted incitement of the Palestine Solidarity Forum on the campus become so influential that UCT concedes in bending the knee and implementing this extreme and abhorrent act of boycotting the distinguished centers of Israeli academia?

Has the UCT leadership attained such a moral utopia that it can conclude that only Israel deserves to be punished with an academic boycott for its inability to resolve the two sided conflict with the Palestinians? That this isolated issue is the most ominous in a world of numerous wars, hostilities and enmities that have claimed untold casualties and refugees and caused devastation and ruin is  beyond belief?   

It appears to me that in recent times UCT has lost its moral mettle in determining what truly constitute academic issues; that it has become prone to acceding to the demands of political groups on the campus whose outlooks and policies are duplicitous and mendacious.

I have no doubt that should UCT decide to impose an academic boycott on Israel, it will be UCT that will be the loser!

This ineffectual and puerile act will diminish the reputation of one of Africa’s leading universities in the eyes of western academia – after all, caving in under pressure is not considered a valiant deed. Israeli universities and colleges will continue to produce potential Nobel Prize winners and leaders in science, technology, IT, agriculture, medicine, aero-space and you-name-it!

Unfortunately the government of South Africa has decided to reduce its diplomatic representation in Israel. To all practical purposes this does not affect Israel in the least.

It is with no pleasure that I can attribute this same remark to the dynamic academia of Israel, should UCT implement an academic boycott of Israel.

For what it is worth, my pride and esteem that I feel to my alma mater, will sadly dissolve.

In my student days, I was in the front ranks of those struggling for the independence and autonomy of UCT as an academic institution, whose portals were to be opened to all students based on academic ability, not on their colour. I never believed that this same university would now implement an academic boycott against a country that struggled against unbelievable odds in achieving its independence and creating edifices of learning which enjoy universal admiration.

I can only hope that rationality and spirit will infuse the declining vitality and strength of UCT’s leaders and that they will treat this attempt for imposing an academic boycott on a brave and successful country, with the contempt it deserves!

I respectfully request that this letter be circulated amongst UCT’s management, lecturers and students.

Your kind acknowledgement is thanked in advance.

Sincerely,

Lennie Lurie

Israel

 It was hard-hitting letters like these that won the day.

The word was out that UCT would find it impossible to defend itself from retaliatory moves that a boycott would likely produce.

As expressed by Prof. David Bernstein of the Scalia Law School at George Mason University:

Once you endorse an academic boycott yourself, you don’t have any standing when it comes to opposing people who then engage in a boycott of your institution.”

At the vote on Friday 25 November, 68% of the 363 members of the senate opposed the resolution that pro-boycott activists had been pushing since 2017.

“We thank the Senate for standing up to this campaign of hate and asserting the importance of academic freedom over narrow political agendas,” said Rowan Polovin, the National Chairman of the SAZF (South African Zionist Federation). “The academic boycott campaign against Israel was driven by the antisemitic BDS movement and loomed over the University for almost three years. Its goal was to single out and isolate the one and only Jewish state for unfair sanction and discrimination. The campaign consumed a disproportionate amount of airtime at the Academic Freedom Committee, Senate and Council at the expense of more relevant and important issues for UCT. Its repudiation sends a strong message that freedom of academic enquiry without limitation is essential for academic freedom to thrive. Academics, students and faculty at UCT are free to engage with Israeli academia, or that of any country they so choose, without restriction.”

Thankful that UCT can now move forward “with its reputation intact,” Polovin concluded by thanking “all the efforts of those who played a role in this pivotal fight for academic freedom at UCT.”

Director of Public Policy at the SAZF, Benji Shulman expressed that he believed that “this was an important win for the community and its allies. UCT’s repudiation of this resolution shows that South Africans are interested in peace in the Middle East and a positive future of South Africa. It is now time to push on forward and increase constructive engagement between South Africans and Israelis such as our new initiative to promote cooperation between UCT and the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel, whereby two UCT science students have been offered by the Weizmann Institute of Science, a 3-month research scholarship.  This will enrich the research capacity of the next generation of UCT scientists.”

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Sock It To Israel. The logo fist of the Palestine Solidarity Forum (PSF) at UCT. This ‘round’, they felt the counter punch from the alumni.

As expected, the Palestine Solidarity Forum (PSF) at UCT and BDS are furious. The former spewed “It is a clear indication of the persisting conservatism of UCT and the fact that UCT, and the vice-chancellor in particular, is beholden to its donors and the Zionist lobby,” while BDS spokesman, Bram Hanekom, said his campaign “would continue to call for South African academic institutions to cut ties with the apartheid Israeli state.”

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Bram The “Breeker”. BDS spokesman Bram Hanekom persists in breaking academic ties with Israel.

The majority of the UCT Senate view the future differently.

In rejecting the proposal to boycott Israeli academic institutions, the Senate also encouraged faculty “to establish positive academic links with Palestinian academic institutions and individuals, with financial and logistical assistance from the UCT.”

One bad resolution nixed, now its time to be resolute in pursuing constructive academic engagement for a better  South Africa, Israel and the Palestinian people.

That’s the way to go. Build bridges; not break them down.

 

*Feature Picture: A pro-Israel march in Cape Town in 2018. Photo: SAFI.

Cooling Relations To Hot Realisations

By David E. Kaplan

When Israelis woke up to the day’s news earlier this month that “NASA is set to send a prototype of an Israeli-developed miniaturized solar-power generator to the International Space Station (ISS) in its first launch of 2020,” it hardly raised an eyebrow!

Nor would they have been astounded to read lower down the same article that “Future prototypes are being planned for private space initiatives as well as space agencies pursuing new missions that require high power for electric propulsion and for operation in deep space such as missions to Jupiter and Saturn.”

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Far Out. NASA to send Israeli solar-power generator to International Space Station. View of the full installation at which testing will be performed within the framework of NASA’s Materials International Space Station Experiment. (photo credit: BEN GURION UNIVERSITY OF THE NEGEV)

Such news today in Israel maybe “news” but hardly surprising revelations!

Israel is in the vanguard of preparing for tomorrow and more and more countries and international companies and agencies are realising the value of partnering with Israel – collaborating on projects for the benefit of all mankind.

However, what did raise eyebrows as reported in the international media, was when earlier this month, Cyril Ramaphosa, the President of South Africa, expressed in public that South Africa can learn from Israel that was “leading by leaps and bounds” – notably in the hi-tech sector.

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South African President Cyril Ramaphosa makes his State of the Nation address in parliament, in Cape Town, South Africa, February 7, 2019. (Rodger Bosch, Pool via AP

And why the surprise?

Well, it was only a month earlier that South Africa confirmed its intention to downgrade its Tel Aviv embassy to a liaison office.

This was like a cart or carriage being pulled by horses hitched in the front and the back!

In which direction, if any, was South Africa’s foreign policy headed?

The diplomatic downgrade had been due to the nefarious influence of BDS on ANC policy at the ruling party’s December 2017 biannual conference. As warned at the time and shown over events since, the fateful short-sighted resolution was set neither to help the Palestinians nor to materially harm Israelis. In fact, the only harm inflicted was on  the majority of citizens of South Africa.

With Ramaphosa’s public address, are fresh winds of change blowing in South Africa?

Speaking at a Women in Business Conference in Johannesburg, the State President said that: “There is money: Come with plans and innovative ideas which we can fund, and then we can seed your business.”

In Israeli parlance, Ramaphosa was talking “tachlis”. In plain English – “Let’s get down to brass tacks.”

Ramaphosa was telling the conference and by extension the people of South Africa how the country could economically benefit from engagement with Israel.

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President Cyril Ramaphosa speaking at the BWASA Presidential dialogue 2019, 29 October 2019 (Photo: Nigel Sibanda)

Right On Ramaphosa

It was the right time for the South African president to deliver this message as the conference was the launching pad of his country’s three-day investment drive led by the State President, where the country hoped to commit trillions of dollars to economic investments; even before the conference ended.

Most revealing was that Ramaposa recognised Israel’s “challenge funds” as a role model for South Africa to fuel enterprise, innovation and entrepreneurship in its hi-tech sector.

If it works in Israel, why not South Africa?

Addressing the conference, Ramaphosa said:

The Israeli hi-tech sector funds enterprises in tech, in the technology space, and you call it a ‘Challenge Fund’. To me this is a very interesting nomenclature to say it is a ‘Challenge Fund’, because it challenges the private sector, but it can also challenge the entrepreneurs themselves, who come out of the woodwork. There is money: Come with plans and innovative ideas which we can fund, and then we can seed your business.”

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On a roll, the President continued:

“In many ways, that is what has gotten Israel to lead in the technology space. They are leading by leaps and bounds, and they are actually innovative in a number of sectors of the economy, in agriculture, in maritime and in a number of other areas. They have shown that they can lead. And we can learn a lot from what they do.”

This is a far cry from South Africa cutting off its nose to spite itself when in 2016, a Johannesburg conference dealing with the water crisis in South Africa was canceled due to the inclusion of Israel’s Ambassador to South Africa.

The then Ambassador, Arthur Lenk, was to be part of a panel at the conference organised by the Mail and Guardian newspaper on “equitable and sustainable water management for poverty alleviation.” It is globally recognised that Israel is the world’s expert in water management.

After Ramaphosa’s recent conference address, Israel’s present Ambassador to South Africa, Lior Keinan, took to Twitter to welcome the State President’s statement:

“We are delighted to see #Israeli tech discussed by President @CyrilRamaphosa . Israel has become a world leader in #innovation and #entrepreneurship and will continue to encourage avenues of cooperation between Israel and South Africa.

???????????????? https://t.co/FeKq793XyC 

???????? Lior Keinan (@LiorKeinan) November 7, 2019

Has Ramaphosa pressed a reset button that common sense may prevail over ignorance? During the worst of the water crises in Cape Town in 2018; and with Israel offering help, typical of the WhatsApp messages was this one received by Darren Bergman, a Jewish member of parliament in South Africa which read:

 “There is NO water crisis! Day zero is a Zionist plot planned by the DA Zionists…. They have been using scaremongering and by laws [sic] to create a water ‘crisis.’ The ‘created’ drought is a Zionist plot to control Cape Town’s water supply and profit from it.”

Rise To The Challenge

Times may be A ‘Changin’ when Ramaphosa says of Israel:

 “We can learn a lot more of what they do with regard to Challenge Funds, and I would like to learn more.”

Most encouraging words from the State President, but part of the process of learning about “Challenge Funds” is also accepting the challenge of rejecting the attitudes of the likes of BDS whose vocabulary when it comes to Israel is less about finding  a solution but more in advocating the country’s dissolution.

South Africa is currently facing Challenging times. In rugby, the World Champions need no counsel but there are many areas that Israel can assist and wants to assist.

Ramaphosa’s recent words are a good beginning!

 

 

*Feature picture: ewn.co.za – President Cyril Ramaphosa addesses a dialogue, convened under the theme ‘The Economy is Woman’, which is organised by the Businesswomen’s Association of South Africa (BWASA) on 29 October 2019. Picture: GCIS.

Who loses when you boycott Israel ?

By Rolene Marks

The BDS (Boycott, Divestment and sanctions) movement sure is noisy. While lacking cerebral substance, they understand the veracity of symbolism and language that is provocative, emotive and emotional. They understand that gratuitous use of the word Apartheid is guaranteed to get an emotional reaction from people.

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BDS tries to intimidate shoppers by inferring that if they buy Israeli products they are responsible for the deaths of Palestinian children. This is indicative of BDS tractics of threats, intimidation and libellous accusations.

I use the word gratuitous intentionally because BDS have no respect or understanding of the crime that was Apartheid and the trauma of its victims. To them it is simply evocative, sexy packaging that can be used to market their agenda and make it appealing to the masses who maintain they are concerned about human rights.

If you wrap up hatred and sell it in an emotional package, then surely you must be on the side of good, right?

Wrong. There is a more nefarious agenda at play here and it needs to be exposed again and again.

A wolfish agenda in sheep’s clothing

Why is BDS so hell-bent on the accusation of Apartheid?

The motivation is simple. They want to paint Israel with the same colours as that of Apartheid South Africa in order to undermine Israel’s legitimacy as a State in the hope that global opprobrium will lead to isolation of the Jewish State. In fact, the stated end-goal of BDS is the complete eradication of the Jewish nation state – they have been so bold as to announce this on their website. It’s not going to happen because Israel is not Apartheid South Africa, like BDS advocates want people to believe.

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The BDS agenda of the de-legitimisation of Israel disguised as concern for human rights is wolf in sheeps clothing tactics.

BDS would have you believe that boycotts and sanctions contributed to the downfall of Apartheid in South Africa and that the same kind of well strategized campaign can do the same to change Israeli policies. There are very clear differences – in Apartheid South Africa, the minority white population had dominion over the majority black population and eventually, it was the citizens of the country who spoke out overwhelmingly in a referendum that the time had long passed to do away with this heinous regime.

The situation between Israelis and Palestinians is far more complicated. Rather than a loveless marriage, the parties prefer an amicably divorce in best enjoying their national aspirations. It is extremely presumptuous for South Africans to impose their “one-solution-fits-all” to one of the most complex political conflicts in modern history.

Destruction rather than Construction

Did boycotts and sanctions contribute to the fall of Apartheid?

The idea of boycotts and sanctions was debated in the 1960’s but only really gained traction in the 1980’s. In November 1962, the United Nations General Assembly passed Resolution 1761, a non-binding resolution establishing the United Nations Special Committee against Apartheid and called for imposing economic and other sanctions on South Africa. All Western nations were unhappy with the call for sanctions and as a result boycotted the committee.

Fast forward to the 1980’s and the height of the regime and it can be said that while sanctions did effect the economy, the credit for ending Apartheid once and for all was the sterling efforts of Nelson Mandela and FW de Klerk who took great – sometimes unpopular risks – to ensure a better future for South Africans based of the democratic principles of equality and justice for all.

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Brave compromisers – South African leaders, FW de Klerk and Nelson Mandela ended the painful years of racist Apartheid rule through compromise and leadership – not as a result of boycotts.

In South Africa, nobody ever questioned the country’s right to exist as a nation state which is precisely BDS’s endgame. It says so openly and unashamedly – “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free”. This means that Israel is dealing with a malevolent movement that aims – contrary to the democratic principles that played a part in the South African process – to destroy of one of the main players, namely – Israel.

The German Bundestag voted earlier this year to declare BDS and antisemitic movement and Austria is poised to do the same.

Who stands to lose the most?

It is easy for activists on both sides to play armchair politicians but there are lives at stake and for the most part, Palestinians have more to lose. With an Israeli economy that is booming, the impact of boycotts on the lives on Israelis is minimal – mostly psychological.

For Palestinians on the other hand, boycotts are likely to affect their livelihoods.

One such casualty was SodaStream.  SodaStream, an Israeli company manufacturing soda company  shut its West Bank factory and moved it to southern Israel. This cut hundreds of jobs for Palestinians that reportedly paid between three and five times the local prevailing wage.

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CEO of SodaSteam, Daniel Birenbaum

SodaStream’s CEO Daniel Birnbaum denied the move was BDS-related, though its profits plunged after BDS activists got involved.

“It has nothing to do with politics; we’re relocating to a modern facility that is three times the size,” Birnbaum told The Independent. “But if it was up to me, I would have stayed. We showed the world Arabs and Jews can work together.”

Soda Stream had the last laugh though when it was bought by Pepsico for $3.2 billion, proving that Israel is a hot investment destination – and even more so when there is possibility to create jobs for Palestinians.

Should the boycott be successful – who are the beneficiaries and who are the losers? The losers invariably are the Palestinians while the beneficiaries are BDS and their ilk who by their actions, demonstrate that they are anti-normalisation between Israel and her Palestinian neighbours – and anti-peace.

Does BDS really care that their strategies may affect the very people they purport to help?

Of course not; nothing must get in the way of destroying Israel.

Palestinian lives are the sacrificial lambs in a BDS campaign that is about demolishing bridges rather than building bridges.

See how esteemed human rights Palestinian activist explains how the BDS movement and their boycott campaigns impacts ordinary Palestinians in this video clip:

If BDS truly cared about the lives of Palestinians, they would champion for a second Singapore or Start-Up Nation like their neighbour Israel, rather than promote murderous and genocidal incitement. They would engage in dialogue, not deception.

Peace will be built from the ground up. It will start with spirited, committed people – individuals and communities, business people and investors. Boycotts create barriers and discourage positive discourse.

While the situation in the Middle East is a challenge, let us promote positive tracks of building and promoting commerce that will create a thriving economy rather than the destructive path of boycotts!

This way, everybody benefits.

 

SA Anglican Church Joins BDS Against Israel

Strange how the persecution of Christians in the Middle East and Africa- described at times as “genocide”- elicits no such  Southern African Anglican Church angst!

By David E. Kaplan

The highest and most prominent decision-making body of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa (ACSA) voted this past September to join and support the international BDS (Boycott Divestment and Sanctions) movement against Israel.

Representing the Anglican Christian communities in southern African countries including South Africa, Namibia, Mozambique and Angola, the church passed the resolution in Johannesburg during its Provincial Synod, which takes place every three years.

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Partnering with BDS. Delegates from the Southern African Anglican Church which met in Johannesburg for the Provincial Synod, supported the BDS movement in its resolve against Israel.

The wording in the motion passed included “the situation in the Holy Land demands the attention of the Christian Church precisely because that is the place where Jesus Christ was born, nurtured, crucified and raised.”

Really?

The Holy Land where Jesus was “born, nurtured, crucified and raised” lies located mostly in the Muslim  Middle East – the precise region where the Archbishop of Canterbury, Most Rev. Justin Welby expressed in 2018, “Christians Face Imminent Extinction” and not by the hands of Israelis.

Writing at the time in the Telegraph, the Pope revealed that “Christians face daily the threat of violence, murder, intimidation, prejudice and poverty. …..Many have left. Hundreds of thousands have been forced from their homes. Many have been killed, enslaved and persecuted or forcibly converted. Even those who remain ask the question, ‘Why stay?’”

He concluded with “Across the region, Christian communities that were the foundation of the universal Church now face the threat of imminent extinction.”

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Winds Of Change. A gust of wind blows Pope Francis’ cape as he delivers his speech fearing Christians will disappear from the Middle East. (Photo: AFP)

Why did the SA Anglican Church focus its “demands” on Israel?

The bias and antisemitism was all too evident with the Anglican church outlining “the differences between the Biblical Israel and the modern State of Israel,” and warning its members “not to conflate the two entities, as well as the ideology of Zionism and Judaism.”

It also described the situation in Israel and Palestine as “… worse than apartheid.”

This proved music to the ears of Hamas – which strives for the destruction of the State of Israel and directs rockets at Israel’s civilian population whenever it sees fit – whose spokesman  Basem Naim responded with glee to the Anglican decision as it “encourages us to continue our struggle against the occupation.”

Excepting, Gaza is not occupied other than “occupied” by Hamas who have turned the lives of its residents there into a living nightmare.

Ask the former Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority, Rami Hamdallah, who narrowly survived a suspected Hamas assassination attempt in 2018 while visiting the Gaza Strip from the West Bank. He hurriedly retreated from the “occupation”, never returned and then resigned as Prime Minister in January 2019.

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Copts Struggling To Cope. The Copts of Egypt are one of the oldest Christian communities in the Middle East.

Report Of ‘Revelations’

As much as Palestinians attempt to hide the reality of persecution of Christians – or blame Israel –  it’s difficult to refute the truth and the math.

A sure barometer of dwindling Christians in the region is ‘revealed’ in the very birthplace of Jesus – Bethlehem. Once a predominantly Christian city where Christians formed an 86% majority, today that figure stands at fewer than 10% and dropping.

The situation is even worse in Gaza, where among the thousands of Christians who used to live there, only a few hundred remain under the constant threat of persecution, with serious limitations on Christian ceremonies and holidays, and effectively without human rights.

While the future of Christians living under the  PA and in fact the entire Middle East is uncertain – even the Pope fears “Christians will disappear from the Middle East lamenting “a Middle East without Christians would not be the Middle East” – the situation is different in Israel which not only allows but protects the safe life for all religious minorities.

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Stop The Slaughter. Appeals in Egypt.

Nightmare In Nigeria

What’s more, as the Southern Africa  Anglican Church set its sights northerly at the Holy Land, they could have looked far less north to see what was happening to their fellow Christians in Nigeria.

 Note the following outcries in quotes:

  • It’s tough to tell Nigerian Christians this isn’t a religious conflict since what they see are Fulani fighters clad entirely in black, chanting ‘Allahu Akbar!’ and screaming ‘Death to Christians”,” reported Sister Monica Chikwe to John. L. Allen Jr., Crux, August 4, 2019.
  • Hundreds of indigenous Numan Christians in Adamawa state were attacked and killed by jihadist Fulani herdsmen. When they tried to defend themselves, the Buhari government sent in the Airforce to bomb hundreds of them and protect the Fulani aggressors. Is this fair?!” asks Femi Fani-Kayode, former Minister of Aviation in the Daily Post (Nigeria), December 6, 2017.
  • Buhari is openly pursuing an anti-Christian agenda that has resulted in countless murders of Christians all over the nation and destruction of vulnerable Christian communities,” said Bosun Emmanuel, the secretary of the National Christian Elders Forum, 2018.

Between 2011 and 2015, the jihadi group Boko Haram committed ISIS-type of atrocities even before ISIS came into being, terrorized and slaughtered thousands of Christians, mostly those living in the Muslim-majority north. When in 2015, Nigeria’s Muslims finally got what they wanted – a Muslim president in the person of Muhammadu Buhari, taking over from Goodluck Jonathan, a Christian, the violence did not subside but got worse. Muslim Fulani herdsmen – the ethnic tribe from which Buhari hails  – joined and even surpassed Boko Haram in their slaughter of Christians.

Reports reveal that between June 2017 and June 2018 alone, Muslim Fulani slaughtered approximately 9,000 Christians and destroyed at least a thousand churches. (It took three times longer for the Fulani to kill a fraction [1,484] of Christians under Jonathan’s presidency.) In just the first six months of this year, 52 lethal terror attacks targeting Christian villages occurred. “Nearly every single day, I wake up with text messages from partners in Nigeria, such as this morning: ‘Herdsmen stab 49-year-old farmer to death in Ogan,” human rights lawyer Ann Buwalda said in July.

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Christians, Cries, Coffins. Christian mourners carry coffins following an attack earlier in Nigeria in 2018 Thousands of men, women and children have been killed in Nigeria in what the country’s Christian community are condemning as “ethnic cleansing”.(Image: GETTY)

License To Kill

In short, it appears that its hunting season in Nigeria with Christians as the prey.  And by all accounts, it appears the hunters have a “license”!

Continuing, says former Minister of Aviation Femi Fani-Kayode, “The Muslim president Buhari has only awarded the murderers with impunity rather than justice and has staffed his government with Islamic officials, while doing essentially nothing to give the nation’s Christians, who make up half the population, due representation.”

While Christians were once the majority of Nigeria’s population, “the ongoing genocide against them” has caused their population to drop  to a level that Christianity in Nigeria is, according to the National Christian Elders Forum, “on the brink of extinction”.

How come the pious delegates in Johannesburg for the Anglican Church’s Provincial Synod in September spewed their wrath at Israel but failed to show concern closer to home for their fellow Christians in Nigeria?

Then again look what transpired in South Africa during September, the same month the Anglican Synod met and deliberated.  In a spate of xenophobic attacks, mobs attacked foreign-owned businesses in cities across the country. Although no Nigerians were killed in the violence, Nigerian-owned shops and businesses were targeted resulting in Nigeria’s president Muhammadu Buhari travelling to South Africa, to resolve the issue of the welfare of his citizens. Nigeria repatriated around 600 of its citizens living in South Africa.

Of all the issues on the Anglican Churches agenda, the only one that it made “demands” of and will be well remembered as it made international news was its resolution in support of BDS to boycott Israel.

Bravo Bishops!

 

 

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.