SAJBD condemns antisemitic statements

The SA Jewish Board of Deputies is appalled by the unambiguously antisemitic statements made by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Monday. In a chilling revival of classic expressions of anti-Jewish hatred, Abbas sought to justify the historical persecution of Jews by claiming that Jews had brought this upon themselves by their alleged immoral and harmful actions.

Even the Nazi Holocaust, in which one-third of World Jewry were systematically murdered, was portrayed as being the result of supposed Jewish criminality. President Abbas has previously referred to the Holocaust as a 'myth' and a 'fantastic lie'. Now he has apparently changed tack by saying instead that while it did happen, the Jews deserved it. Such comments are an unforgivable slur again the innumerable victims of antisemitic persecution throughout history. They further defame the Jewish people today by depicting then as manipulative, greedy, untrustworthy and selfishly bent on advancing their own interests to the detriment of whatever society they belong to. Such repugnant sentiments are always a cause for concern, but the gravity of the offence is greatly magnified when they come from an internationally recognised political leader.

In addition to trying to justify antisemitism and distorting the record of the Holocaust, President Abbas once again also sought to deny Jewish history by declaring,  in brazen defiance of the evidence, that Jews have no roots in the Land of Israel.

It is deeply regrettable that Mahmoud Abbas has resorted to propagating blatant antisemitism as a political weapon.

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The SAJBD was heartened by an email we received from Mr Solly Hattia, a member of the Muslim community.

“My experiences living amongst a Jewish community.  My first engagement with Jewish people began when the company I worked for merged with a Jewish family-owned-business and to whom I was then to report to as my new CEO.  My first encounter with my new Boss, Ronnie Norwitz, was on a Friday when he came down to my office at around 12 looked at his watch and said “Solly aren't you going to be late for your Friday prayer?”  Never before in all my years of working, had I ever had this courtesy from a boss!  His other interesting comment on my return from the Mosque was all ways, "Friday's are good days ".  Ronnie would always say this with the gesture of a clenched fist swinging his arm through the air as if he was going to hit someone.  He always greeted me with a smile and a kind word.  Braai days at work you would find him at my fire naturally. 

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At the biennial conference of the SA Jewish Board of Deputies Gauteng Council next week, Gauteng Jewry will have the first opportunity of engaging directly with President Ramaphosa since his assumption of the presidency earlier this year. Rather than delivering the traditional keynote address, Mr Ramaphosa will be exchanging views with eminent business leader Stephen Koseff on challenges currently facing South Africa, what the Jewish community is (or could be) doing to help address them and how each sees the future of the country and its people. In other words, it is not about what this country should be doing to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian, or any other foreign policy issue, but is framed as being a South African conversation between fellow South Africans on South African issues.