Today’s passing of the National Freedom Party’s (NFP) resolution to downgrade the South African Embassy in Israel, while framed as a human-rights motivated gesture, is in reality, driven by an obsessive enmity towards the world’s sole Jewish nation state and a desire to undermine and harm South Africa’s own best interests.
The unreflecting virulence of the rhetoric against Israel, with all its multiple misrepresentations, falsifications, omissions and exaggerations, bears this out only too well. Our Parliament was founded on the fundamental values of respectful, constructive and honest discussion; today it was allowed to become a platform for demonising and defaming the Jewish state.
For Israel’s many committed supporters in South Africa, whether Jewish, Christian or from other backgrounds, today’s discussion and vote was a gratuitous slap in the face. For the Jewish community in particular, it was deeply disquieting to witness the overtly hostile, undiplomatic and above all blatantly discriminatory treatment to which Israel was subjected in this country’s foremost law-making chamber.
Today is the Jewish festival of Purim, when Jews everywhere remember how their exiled forebears were threatened with genocide in ancient Persia, and were ultimately saved from it. The SA Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) thus finds it ironic indeed that on this same day South Africa’s Parliament should have busied itself first with vilifying and defaming Israel and then voting to downgrade the SA embassy in Israel. Over the decades, South African Jewry has been confronted by many attacks on its beliefs and threats to its well-being. Through all of them the community remained resilient and unbowed. The SAJBD has no doubt that notwithstanding the shameful farce that played out in Parliament today, our community will not be swayed from their deep-rooted connections and will continue to stand up for their deeply-held heritage with resilience and with pride.