Positioning Statement

The SAJBD is the umbrella representative spokesbody and civil rights lobby of the SA Jewish community. It promotes the safety and welfare of South African Jewry, including combating antisemitism in all its forms, and builds bridges of friendship and understanding between Jews and the broader South African population.   

Focus now on counselling

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Rivonia Trial stalwart Joel Joffe passes away

Lord Joel Joffe, who passed away in London earlier this week at the age of 85, was a leading human rights lawyer. He was best known for the prominent role he played during the famous Rivonia Trial of 1963-4 as the legal defense team’s attorney. Amongst the leading anti-apartheid activists that he represented in the trial were Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu and Ahmed Kathrada. After the trial, Joffe settled in the UK, where he gained further renown for his human rights and philanthropic work. 

Jewish community contributes to Knysna relief

Within hours of hearing about the devastating fires raging through Knysna , South Africans countrywide were provided with a range of options of how they could help those most effected.  Within the Jewish community, the SAJBD, working closely with its Cape Town office and the Garden Route Jewish Association, took the lead in assessing the needs of the communities and providing support.  

SAJBD encouraged by ANC renewed commitment to 2-State Solution

The South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) welcomes the renewed commitment by the ANC to supporting peace initiatives aimed at resolving the Israeli – Palestinian conflict.  On Sunday 11 June, Minister of Environmental Affairs and Chair of the ANC NEC subcommittee on International Relations Edna Molewa, and ANC NEC subcommittee member on International Relations and Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Maite Nkoana-Mashabane reiterated their commitment to a negotiated two-state solution aimed at achieving peaceful co-existence between the different parties.  

Way forward on Edenvale "Heil Hitler" incident

Yesterday, the SA Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) together with the Principal of King David Victory Park Mr Andrew Baker met with Dr Larry Harmer, Principal of Edenvale High. The aim of the meeting was to find a way forward, following an incident that took place when Nazi slogans and gestures were directed against Jewish learners from King David Victory Park by learners from Edenvale High at an inter-school one-act play competition. This was in the context of a performance by King David of the Holocaust-themed drama ‘The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas’.

David Saks

JEWISH HISTORY DENIALISM PARALYZES CONSTRUCTIVE DEBATE ON ISRAEL-PALESTINE

In 1960, the famed archaeologist Yigal Yadin met Israeli President Yitzhak Ben-Zvi to report on his latest discoveries in the Judean Desert. As recounted by Yadin, he opened his presentation with the statement: “I am honoured to be able to tell you that we have discovered fifteen dispatches written or dictated by the last President of ancient Israel eighteen hundred years ago”.

Charisse Zeifert, David Saks

THE GOLDENE MEDINA

While the story of Jews throughout the Diaspora is one of immigration, the unique circumstances of South Africa gave rise to a unique Jewish experience, and the stories are poignant, capturing the moment at the time.

Wendy Kahn

A day in THE LIFE. Getting down to business with the SA Jewish Board of Deputies

When my children were in primary school, they had no idea what their Mum did as a job.  I didn’t fit in the mould as a doctor, lawyer, speech therapist or teacher.  When it came to careers’ day in grade 2 they asked me to come in and talk to the kids but my talk was met with blank stares.  I never handed out surgical masks or Nandos burgers. I was just a lady with a complicated story. 

Wendy Kahn

The reality of Israel APARTHEID WEEK. Exposing the anti-Semitism of the BDS

I have no illusions about `Israel Apartheid Week’ (IAW) being an antisemitic hatefest with BDS and their cohorts dressing up as human rights activists and using this platform to spew hatred against SA Jewry.

What struck us this year was how hard the BDS folk tried to convince the public that IAW wasn’t antisemitic. It was definitely a case of `the lady protesteth too much’.  One of the opeds on this theme, which appeared in the Sunday Tribune on the eve of IAW, was by SA Jews for a Free Palestine activist Sheila Barsel, who dogmatically dismissed our claims of antisemitism as being not `accurate’. 

Charisse Zeifert

Lessons we can learn from the Holocaust

It is remarkable that, seventy two years after the Holocaust, a seemingly never-ending amount of new material on the tragedy continues to emerge.  Surely by this time, the history of this period, should have already been told.  Yet, on an almost daily basis, new stories are coming to light and fresh research (thanks in large part to the recent opening of Eastern European archives) is being undertaken.  New books are being written, while educators are constantly looking for ways to ensure the Holocaust is never forgotten. 

​The Pesach 2017 issue of Jewish Affairs

The Pesach 2017 issue of Jewish Affairs has just come off the presses and posted on the SAJBD’s Website. Click here to read it. The printed version will be mailed to subscribers shortly. 

Last month, the editorial board of Jewish Affairs lost one of its most loyal and long-standing members, Dr Elaine Katz. An obituary to Elaine will appear in the next (Rosh Hashanah) issue of the journal.

Jewish South Africans who have made their mark – the areas of involvement covered include the medical field, book trading, Indian civil rights, agriculture and provincial rugby – feature in the first section of this issue. Two of them – the trade unionist and Vanguard Bookshop founder and owner Fanny Klenerman and Gandhi’s strong-willed, devoted young secretary Sonja Schlesin – receive an occasional mention in mainstream histories. The articles by Dr Veronica Belling and Harriet Feinberg respectively look at the lives and careers of these two bold, unconventional Jewish women who, in their different ways, were so far ahead of their times.

SAJBD comments on Cabinet Reshuffle

During these troubled times for our young democracy, the SA Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) calls on all citizens to unite in confronting corruption and maladministration, protecting the Constitution and fostering a stable economic and political environment. It is undeniable that the principles of accountability and good governance are being seriously undermined and that the interests of isolated factions and individuals appear to be getting precedence over those of the country as a whole. Regardless of race, political affiliation and social background, South Africans must work together in confronting these serious problems.

ANN7 antisemitism cover-up

In January, the independent TV station ANN7 organised a panel debate on security in Sandringham for a programme it was making on the subject. It was reported that one of the panellists, Zahir Omar (of the Muslim Lawyers Association of SA), made explicitly antisemitic comments during the discussion.

Ahmed Kathrada legacy will live on, says SAJBD

The South African Jewish Board of Deputies joins all South African in mourning the loss of Ahmed Kathrada, one of the founding fathers of our democracy and anti-Apartheid stalwart.  The heroism and self-sacrifice that he showed in taking a stand against injustice will be his enduring legacy.  Our condolences go to his family and friends.

David Saks

No basis for Israel-apartheid analogy

Confronted with the charge that Israel is equivalent to Apartheid South Africa, it is tempting simply to retort that it is probably the only country in the Middle East that is not an apartheid state. One could further make an ostensibly compelling case as to why this is so. Take the example of Iran, where the only non-Muslims allowed to become Members of Parliament are those elected by their respective communities to the five seats reserved for religious minorities. Does this not call to mind the separate seats for ‘Bantu’ and ‘Coloured’ representatives elected on separate voters’ rolls in the apartheid parliament? In Yemen, there reportedly remain restrictions on Jews with regard to places of residence - Group Areas Act?

Wendy Kahn

Campaign spurs antisemitic actions

At the opening of this year’s “Israel Apartheid Week” (IAW), former President Kgalema Motlanthe warned the BDS organisers of the event against allowing antisemitism to creep into their campaign: “Antisemitic actions couched in the language of human rights, and disguised by its discourse cannot be countenanced. Such actions not only undermine the humanity of a people, and entrench a painful history, but also serve to undermine our commitment to principled and moral action. It is crucial that the struggle for human rights and an end to oppression be absolutely severed from such religious intolerance and bigotry.”

Is BDS antisemitic? You be the judge.

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David Saks

Another Take on Israel Apartheid Week (IAW)

“Israel Apartheid Week will be a trap for Israel and will move us closer to the liquidation of the Zionist entity”. Thus did Radio Islam announce the launch of IAW earlier this week, and in all honesty, it was refreshing to hear the true purpose of that initiative presented in such clear, unambiguous terms. For IAW’s proponents, the key to Israel’s demise lies in pushing a global boycott campaign against it. As the thinking goes, just as white South Africa was brought to its knees in this way, so will “Apartheid Israel” eventually be consigned to history.

Gabi Zollman

MIDDLE EAST CONFLICT FLARES AT WITS

For the SA Union of Jewish Students (SAUJS) at Wits, this year’s instalment of the anti-Israel propaganda festival known as “Israel Apartheid Week” (IAW) got off to a predictably rocky start. On arriving on Monday morning to set up our stands on the section of the Great Hall piazza allocated to SAUJS, as per agreement with the University, we were aggressively confronted by Palestinian Solidarity Committee members, who attempted to remove or tear down our displays and jostled, verbally abused and threatened our members. 

Israel Apartheid Week results in incidences of antisemitism

It was both predictable and inevitable that this year’s Israel Apartheid Week (IAW) would result in incidences of antisemitism. The Piazza at the Wits University Campus was divided into two separate areas to allow space to both pro-Israel under the banner of SA Union of Jewish Students (SAUJS) and the BDS movement under the banner of the Palestinian Solidarity Committee (PSC) to present their views.

Israel Apartheid Week results in incidences of antisemitism

It was both predictable and inevitable that this year’s Israel Apartheid Week (IAW) would result in incidences of antisemitism. The Piazza at the Wits University Campus was divided into two separate areas to allow space to both pro-Israel under the banner of SA Union of Jewish Students (SAUJS) and the BDS movement under the banner of the Palestinian Solidarity Committee (PSC) to present their views.

David Saks

When anti-Zionism spills into anti-Semitism, evil follows

When can criticism of the State of Israel be regarded as fair and legitimate and can it be so extreme and unbalanced as to constitute, in practice if not always in intent, a form of antisemitism? For some, there is no such boundary. In their view, attacks on Israel and the Zionist ideology in general can never be equated to attacks on Jews per se, whether defined as an ethnic or as a religious community.

Gauteng on the threshold horrific xenophobic violence

Gauteng appears to be on the threshold of yet another outbreak of horrific xenophobic violence against foreign nationals. Already, there have been serious incidents of arson and looting targeting immigrants in both Johannesburg and Tshwane, while tensions are being further heightened by an upsurge in inflammatory rhetoric, particularly on social media.

Gauteng on the threshold horrific xenophobic violence

Gauteng appears to be on the threshold of yet another outbreak of horrific xenophobic violence against foreign nationals. Already, there have been serious incidents of arson and looting targeting immigrants in both Johannesburg and Tshwane, while tensions are being further heightened by an upsurge in inflammatory rhetoric, particularly on social media.

The SAJBD urges South Africans to avoid resorting to antisemitic hate speech

The South African Jewish Board of Deputies urges South Africans, when commenting on issues of public concern, to avoid resorting to antisemitic hate speech, including sinister invocations of behind-the-scenes Jewish financial domination. It is becoming more commonplace for those in leadership to refer to “Jewish based entities” somehow being behind financial institutions and manipulating politics through economic power. 

SAJBD sent submission on the ‘Prevention and Combating of Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill’

The South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) has sent its submission on the ‘Prevention and Combating of Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill’ to the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development for consideration.
The much awaited Bill aims to give effect to South Africa’s obligations, in terms of both our Constitutional and international human rights instruments, concerning racism and discrimination; to provide for the offence of hate crimes and hate speech; as well as the prosecution and prevention of these crimes.

David Saks

Op-Ed: Anti-Jewish rhetoric and conspiratorialism are signs of an unhealthy society

The growing prevalence of hostile racial rhetoric, of which anti-Jewish conspiracy theories are just one part, poses a serious problem to the national well-being.

You know that a society is in trouble when sinister invocations of Jewish financial domination show signs of gaining common currency. And you know that it is really in trouble when those in positions of leadership start talking in that vein.