The SAJBD in the Media

The Board featured prominently in the media last week, with our statement condemning the racially-motivated ‘coffin’ assault in Mpumalanga receiving wide coverage. Alana Baranov, who represents us on the steering committee of the Hate Crimes Working Group, was interviewed on  several radio news programmes, while opinion  pieces on the subject of combating racism and prejudice (including antisemitism) by David Saks and Charisse Zeifert, appeared in the Sunday Tribune and Sowetan respectively.

By contributing the voice of our Jewish community to broader debates, we participate in issues of national importance. This year, one of the most pressing of these issues has been the escalating problem of racially-charged antagonism, something that is becoming more evident at all levels of our society, including in politics. Recapturing the spirit of tolerance, understanding and reconciliation with which South Africa’s brave new world of non-racial democracy was launched 22 years ago has never been more vital. Our community, whether as individuals or through communal organisations must do everything we can to reignite that world.         

When a criminal act is motivated, wholly or in part, by prejudice or intolerance, it adds a significant dimension of severity to the offence. ‘Corrective rape’ against lesbians, for example, combines a brutal physical assault with an attack on the very identity and self-worth of the victim, not to mention that of the LBGT community in general. In recognition of this, a new Hate Crimes Bill has been gazetted and will be coming up before Parliament early next year. The Board is currently finalising its submission on the Bill, in which we will bring our particular concerns as a Jewish community together with our thoughts and recommendation concerning how to tackle such issues as hate speech (particularly online) and how to implement more effectively the anti-discrimination legislation currently on the statute book.    

Recent Articles

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?

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.”