The SA Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) and the SA Zionist Federation (SAZF) deplore and condemn in the strongest terms the statement on the current conflict in Gaza issued earlier today by ANC Deputy Secretary General Jessie Duarte. Such naked invective is something one expects to find only on the more extreme wing of the anti-Israel lobby; coming from our country’s ruling party, it is nothing short of disgraceful.


In the weeks leading up to the present unrest, not one word of condemnation has emanated from the ANC concerning the abduction and murder of three Israeli teenagers. Nor did the ANC see fit to condemn the escalating bombardment by Hamas of Israeli population centres that preceded the current Israeli military response and was the direct cause of it. Hundreds of deadly missiles have been and continue to be fired at Israel’s cities and towns. Not once in the statement issued in her name was Ms Duarte able to even acknowledge this fact, let alone denounce it. This is so, despite the fact that hundreds of South African citizens, including school children, currently in Israel are being continually subjected to this lethal danger. Instead, her supposed moral outrage has been directed solely at Israel’s response, notwithstanding that its purpose is to defend its people against such criminal acts of aggression.


Related to this has been the ANC’s signal failure to denounce what are objectively speaking amongst the worst current instances of human rights violations, both in the Middle East and in Africa. These include the more than 160 000 deaths in Syria and the atrocities committed against Shi’ite Muslims by the Islam State in Iraq and the on-going massacres of Christians in Nigeria. The ANC’s silence over these issues has been deafening, especially when compared with the sheer viciousness of its attacks against Israel.


The SAJBD and SAZF are particularly appalled over the shameful comparisons made by Ms Duarte between Israel’s actions and the Nazi campaign of genocide against the Jewish people during World War II. Comparisons between Israel and the Nazi regime are obscene, not only because they are so grossly defamatory towards the Jewish State but because they belittle the unspeakable crimes of Nazism itself. It is self-evident that casualties resulting from a necessary and unavoidable military operation – casualties that Israel goes to considerable lengths to minimise – cannot be remotely equated with the systematic mass murder of millions solely on account of their being Jewish. We believe that Duarte is well aware of this, but has chosen to make such a comparison for the purpose of causing the maximum hurt and offense. In doing so, she has dishonoured the standing of the party of Oliver Tambo and Nelson Mandela, - a party that has consistently fought against racism and bigotry - as well as grossly insulting world Jewry and the memory of all the victims of Nazi tyranny.


It is unacceptable in any decent, democratic society for a responsible political organisation to propagate such venom and bigotry, let alone a party that has been entrusted with the reins of government. In light of this, the SAJBD and SAZF demand that the ANC Deputy Secretary General issue an unequivocal apology to the Jewish community of South Africa for the repugnant, highly offensive and untrue comments regarding the Nazi comparison.


Following an antisemitic incident concerning a group of American Jewish business and communal leaders at the AU Commission Summit in Equatorial Guinea, the SAJBD liaised with Malcolm Hoenlein for a full briefing on the occurrence.

The SAJBD issued a statement regarding the incident and wrote to the Chairperson of the AU Commission Dr Dlamini Zuma to protest the treatment of the Jewish group asking for a full investigation.  She responded on Friday that the issue was raised at the post Summit meeting, an investigation is under way and she will communicate the findings.

A letter was sent to President Zuma requesting clarification as to whether the SA delegation had been at all involved and at a DIRCO briefing last week, Clayson Monyela assured our Chairman Mary Kluk that he had personally spoken to each of the delegation and none of them had been involved in any way.


Press Release

by The SAJBD on 26 May 2014

in Articles, General, Media

On Saturday afternoon, an unidentified gunman went on a murderous shooting rampage in the Jewish Museum in Brussels, killing four people. There can be little doubt that the museum was targeted specifically because it was a Jewish institution, and that the attack was an antisemitically motivated hate crime. The SA Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) has conveyed its outrage over this cold-blooded act of terror, as well as its deepest condolences to the families of the victims and to the Belgian Jewish leadership. It further calls on the Belgian authorities to do their utmost to bring the perpetrator to justice, as well as to take whatever measures that are necessary to combat hate crime, whether based on race, religion or any other such grounds.

The SAJBD is likewise deeply troubled about the near-simultaneous attack that took place on two Jewish worshippers outside a synagogue in Paris on Saturday night. One of the victims was severely injured after being struck in the eye with brass knuckles. As with the Brussels atrocity, this appears to have been a completely unprovoked attack against those singled out solely because they were Jews.
As pointed out by European Jewish Congress President Moshe Kantor, “attacks on Jewish targets in Europe do not exist in a vacuum, but are part and parcel of an overall climate of hate and incitement against Jewish communities”. The SAJBD shares this concern over the steadily rising levels of antisemitic hatred in Europe, which today increasingly threatens to take a violent, and even lethal form.

For more information please contact Mary Kluk on 083 7758618

Issued by
Charisse Zeifert
Head: Communications
South African Jewish Board of Deputies

 011 645 2547 (direct) or 082 427-2788 (mobile)


Five months ago, under the heading ‘Make Us Count’, the Board embarked on a serious of initiatives aimed at encouraging the Jewish community to become involved and in general get into the spirit of the upcoming national elections. It began with a drive to encourage first-time voters, as well as those living overseas, to ensure that they were registered. We went on to host a number of well-attended functions, including multi-party pre-election debates in Johannesburg and Durban, for community members to hear from and engage with senior representatives of some of the major parties contesting the election. The Make Us Count campaign culminated in the Board’s putting together a multi-faith, trans-national election observer team, with accreditation from the Independent Electoral Commission, to assist in monitoring the voting process and ensuring that everything was fair and above board. This was an inspiring success, and attracted much favourable coverage for the Board and for the Jewish community in general in both the local and overseas media. Around a hundred volunteers from across the religious and ethnic spectrum took part, covering over 250 voting stations in five cities.

All participants I have since been in contact with have expressed the tremendous sense of pride and satisfaction they experienced in being able to contribute in this way. We are very proud that the SAJBD facilitated this very special nation-building exercise, and I congratulate in particular Alana Baranov for heading it up so capably. Watching South African democracy at work was again an inspiring experience. One could not help but be struck by the warm spirit of camaraderie and sense of ownership in the wonderful democracy that we all enjoy. It was a spirit that transcended political affiliation, and made the elections – just like those memorable first elections twenty years ago – a truly unifying experience.

Currently, I am attending the American Jewish Congress (AJC) conference in Washington DC, along with six other South African representatives from the SAJBD. Representatives of some seventy countries are taking part in this important event on the international Jewish calendar. As always, it is an exhilarating experience to join with world Jewry in debating issues of concern to all of us. Over the years, we have established a much-valued partnership with the AJC, who have consistently supported us in times of both challenge and celebration. I look forward to reporting back more fully on the conference after my return.

One of the very complex matters our National office has been dealing with this year has been resolving problems of exams set on Shabbat and Shavuot. Fortunately, it now looks very much like acceptable alternative arrangements will be in place at all the academic institutions concerned, with students, as in years gone by, being able to write their papers immediately after Shabbat/Yom Tov at Beyachad. I will go into further detail regarding these arrangements in a future column, but I can say at this stage that henceforth, rather than having to renegotiate a solution on a year by year basis, we hopefully now have in place an ongoing arrangement that all religiously observant Jewish students will be able to avail themselves of when clashes occur.

• Listen to Charisse Zeifert on Jewish Board Talk, 101.9 ChaiFM every Friday 12:00-13:00.



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