The Board put together a packed week-long programme, involving high-level engagements with government, academia, civil society, the media, other faith communities, NGOs, youth and women’s groups and the business community. The programme commenced over the weekend, and included an event with Jewish students, high school learners and youth movement members followed by one with prominent women business leaders and philanthropists. Since then, there has been an interfaith dialogue on the role of women in peace-building at the historic Women’s jail, tours of Constitution Hill and the Apartheid Museum and meetings with the Department of International Relations and Cooperation and with the Speaker in Parliament.
Solutions to conflict can only come from dialogue; aggressive methods of dealing with conflict may work in the short term but are never sustainable; achieving peace is all about respecting others, even and indeed especially when you disagree with them; strive for understanding and empathy and always look to find common ground; These are the kind of messages that members of the delegation have brought to the fore in all their engagements thus far. They are messages that urgently need to be heard, not just in our own country, but in many other parts of our troubled and increasingly polarised world. The delegation in turn gained crucial insights into the South African experience of conflict resolution, which above all was about involving all parties in a process of dialogue with the common aim of arriving at peaceful solutions. While South African solutions might not turn out to be appropriate for the Israeli-Palestinian situation, the South African process of bringing all parties together in respectful, honest dialogue most certainly is.
Articulate, passionate and with an in-depth, hands-on knowledge of the issues involved, our guests have to date more than met the high expectations we had of them. I also warmly commend our professional staff team, who are working around the clock to ensure that we take the fullest advantage of the wonderful opportunities that this ground-breaking visit is providing.
At the time of writing, the group is preparing to travel to Cape Town for the second leg of their visit. In next week’s column, I will be reporting back on these events, which we hope will be just as successful and uplifting as those that preceded them,
• Listen to Charisse Zeifert on Jewish Board Talk, 101.9 ChaiFM every Friday 12:00-13:00