NAP – Grasping the Racism Nettle

Earlier this year, the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development launched its National Action Plan to Combat Racism, Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance (NAP). The initiative aims at bringing government and civil society together in creating a greater awareness about the evils of racism and establishing and strengthening various bodies to combat it. As the representative spokesbody and civil rights lobby of SA Jewry, the Board is a significant stakeholder in this process, and we have  been very active in it. It is  the third major area of public policy aimed at countering racism that we have been involved in just this year, having been preceded by the input we made into the Film and Publications Bill and the 2016 Constitutional Review.   

This week, we handed in our submission on the draft NAP document to the Justice Department. We made general recommendations as to how existing structures set up to combat racism and related intolerance could  be improved and noted some of the difficulties that the Board had experienced in carrying out our work. There was also a specific section devoted to our unique concerns, in which antisemitism and the various forms it takes was explained together with an overview of how it has manifested in our country. Last week, our Diplomatic Liaison officer, Chaya Singer, attended a Department of Justice conference on the NAP, in which she presented our submission in one of the breakaway sessions. Our input was much appreciated, particularly in how it identified practical ways in which the NAP’s aims could be realized.  

Our activities concerning the NAP have also extended beyond the confines of the Board. Alana Baranov represents us on the steering committee of the Hate Crimes Working Group, and in that capacity she was extensively involved in the drafting of its submission on the NAP. In addition to participating in numerous drafting sessions, Alana also attended and participated in various national and provincial stakeholder consultations convened by the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development.

In taking an active part in initiatives such as these, we demonstrate our strong commitment to being part of the national conversation over issues of common concern. We further are able to positively contribute to the creation of a society where all citizens feel safe from the evils of discrimination, whether based on racial, ethnic, religious or any other grounds.       

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