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?

image001 (92)
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”.

image002 (88)
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.”

image004 (10)
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.”

image003 (97)
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.”

image005 (9)
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.

image004 (88)
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.

Ramaphosa at BASWA2
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.”

image003 (94).jpg

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.

who loses from BDS2
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.

who loses from BDS3
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.

who loses from BDS4
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.

who loses from BDS5
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.

image007 (44)
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.”

image004 (84)
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.

image001 (88)
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.

image003 (88)
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.

image009 (32)
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.

image006 (9)
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.

image002 (72)
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.

image005 (70)
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.

image001 (80)
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.

image004 (74)
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.

image008 (36)
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”.

image003 (75)
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.

Salaita1
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.

image001 (74)
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
image005 (67)
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.”

image002 (66)
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.

66373101_1574885209311461_7618646927923478528_n.jpg

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.

image001 (73)
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.

image003 (73)
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.”

image004 (69)
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.

blankets of hope2
Elderly people draped in blankets they received at the Blankets for Hope event in Booysens

 

 

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

 

Chariots of Hope

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

By Tamar Lazarus acting co-president of WIZO South Africa

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

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

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

image002 (65)
A Moving Gesture. The Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital Johannesburg, Gauteng, have received through WIZO South Africa, lightweight, reliable and child friendly wheelchairs from Israel.

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

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

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

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

image001 (71)
Prime Movers. Pablo Kaplan who with Chave Chava Rotshtein founded ‘Wheelchairs of Hope’ in Israel in 2009.

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

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

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

image007 (34)
WIZO Impact. The writer Tamar Lazarus (right) with WIZO SA colleagues at Tygerberg Hospital in Cape Town.

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

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

image003 (71)
A Touch Of Class. An Israeli ‘Wheelchair of Hope’ is seen here in a South African classroom.

From Israel With Love

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

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

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

  • Maitland Cottage Children’s Orthopaedic Hospital, Cape Town
  • Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital, Johannesburg
  • Red Cross Hospital Paediatric Oncology ward
  • Tygerberg Hospital Paediatric ward
  • Charlotte Maxeke Hospital Oncology ward
  • Special school Bolwar
  • ‘Give a Child a Family’ organisation, Margate
  • Open air school Durban
  • Athlone school for the blind
  • Individual children who otherwise would not have access
image005 (64)
The Magnificent Six. Empowered by mobility, these smiling children at Harding Special School in Kwazulu Natal each with their Israeli wheelchairs donated by WIZO South Africa.

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

image008 (8)
A Kid On The Move. Young child on his Israeli Wheelchair of Hope’ inside the Paediatric Oncology Ward at Tygerberg Hospital in Cape Town.

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

Wheelchair of hope2.jpg

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

 

 

 

 

 

wonder woman3.jpg

 

Meeting Of Minds

Aiming on future cooperation following SA academics visiting Israel.

By Benji Shulman

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

image006 (42)
Oasis Of Excellence. Hebrew University campus in Jerusalem.

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

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

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

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

image008 (32)
Get Real. Yissum impacting on society by transforming excellent ideas into reality.

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

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

image007 (32)
Glowing Global. Illuminating the path ahead, HUJI Innovate, the Hebrew University’s innovation platform, encourages students, faculty and alumni to develop new solutions for real-world problems while fostering a vibrant ecosystem that helps accelerate the creation of new ventures.

HUJI-Innovate

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

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

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

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

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

image010 (24)
Einstein Stands In Jerusalem. Although much later being offered the post of President of Israel, Einstein was satisfied in helping establish the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and served on its founding Board of Governors. It is now the home to his official archives where a statue of the physicist greets visitors.

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

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

Not all work and no play

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

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

image011 (27)
Living Legacy. The Peres Center for Peace & Innovation shows how technology and innovation can be put to the service of peace and act as a hub for innovation and peace. (credit Efrat Sa’ar)

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

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

image003 (69)
Working For A Better Tomorrow. Africa and Israel share similarities in its past and can join hands in facing the future – together

 

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

Ideas to Ventures

 

image015 (11)
Focus On Africa. The South African group of 11 senior lecturers & researchers attended an event on the 8th July in Jerusalem where they heard Sivan Ya’ari CEO Innovation speak on the nature and scope of her work and how it can help meet the challenges of Africa. Steve Linde, Editor of the Jewish Report moderated the discussion . Seen here at the event are (l-r): Steve Linde, Jonny Lipczer from World Mizrachi, Dr Les Glessman, Chairman of Wits Israel Alumni, Benji Shulman, Director of South Africa Israel Forum, Roy Scher Telfed Jerusalem Chairman, Carmel Krawitz Executive Director S.A. Friends Hebrew University and Sivan Ya’ari CEO Innovation Africa July 8th World Mizrachi King George Jerusalem

 

 

Benji Shulman1.jpg

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

From Bishops To Pawns

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

image003 (61)
Doing BDS bidding, South African Christian leaders issue statement urging “economic pressure” against Israel.

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

 

Response To Christian Leaders Urging “Economic Pressure” On Israel

 By Bafana Modise

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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