One of the most objectionable recurring themes in the flood of anti-Israel invective provoked by the Gaza conflict was the ready comparisons made between Israel’s actions and the crimes of the Nazis. It goes without saying that those resorting to such terminology were not attempting to present a reasoned, fact-based argument; rather, the aim was to demonize Israel as much as possible, depicting it as being so beyond the pale of basic human values as to render impossible any kind of defence on its behalf. Not only does such language seek to bludgeon people into dismissing out of hand any attempt at defending Israel, but results in those who do so being tarred with the Nazi brush and as apologists for genocide.

In its battle to counter this kind of ugly discourse, the SAJBD has time and again appealed to the public not to be swayed by such politically and emotionally charged hyperbole. We have pointed out the inappropriateness of misusing the Holocaust analogy when it comes to Israel, both because it is grossly untrue and because it is deeply hurtful and demeaning to Jewish people.   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.

It is not only with regard to Israel that inappropriate Holocaust imagery and terminology has been used. Earlier this year, for example, an animal rights activist was taken to task for likening the treatment of pigs awaiting slaughter to death camp victims. Such sensationalist shock tactics are deeply insensitive, and must be condemned in the strongest terms.   In light of these objections, and the efforts we are making to persuade people to be more sensitive in their choice of language, it is therefore particularly upsetting to see the very same misuse of the Holocaust/Nazi analogy coming from within our own community. I refer here to the article in the SAJR online headed ‘Arch no better than Hitler or Stalin’. The offensiveness of the piece itself was compounded by an accompanying image of Tutu with a Hitler-style moustache and Nazi officer’s cap.

Regardless of what one might think about Archbishop Tutu’s attitude and actions towards Israel, attacking him in such terms is puerile and wantonly insulting. It is also, of course, without basis. Does anyone really believe that Tutu is at bottom no better than Hitler and Stalin, two of the worst mass murderers in history? I doubt whether any sensible person would accept that view, and that includes the writer himself, whatever he may have written. What, then, was he hoping to achieve by attacking Tutu in such extreme terms?   It is one thing to take strong issue with someone’s views on Israel and if desired to express this in a robust manner. This, however, does not constitute a license to be crudely insulting, nor to make demeaning comparisons that are so obviously exaggerated as to constitute outright falsehoods. Accusing someone of being a Nazi when this is obviously not the case falls into that category, and is wrong, whether it comes from those aiming to wound and insult the Jewish state and Jews in general, or whether it emanates from those wishing to defend Israel against its detractors. It is a misuse of our history, and serves in  the end to undermine the work of those who seek to convey the truth of what occurred during the Holocaust and what humanity at large should learn from this.

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Gauteng Premier, David Makhura, and Dr Zweli Mkhize, ANC Treasurer General, will be amongst those participating in the SA Jewish Board of Deputies Gauteng Council, to be held this Sunday, 14 September, at Investec from 14h30 – 15h15.

The focus of the conference will be to celebrate the 20th anniversary of South Africa’s democracy, reflect on the journey thus far and also engage in a topical discussion about pertinent issues in the development of South Africa and its citizenry. A panel discussion on ‘Journeys to Freedom’ will form part of the conference. Panellists are Dr Mkhize, Colin Coleman and Prof Michael Katz. Mr Coleman, who is head of the SA office of Goldman Sachs International and nominee for the World Economic Forum’s Global Leaders for Tomorrow award, will explore the economic transformation of our country. Prof Katz, a past president of SAJBD, Chairman of ENSafrica and former chairman of the Tax Commission, will focus on changes in the Jewish community over the past 20 years. Dr Mkhize will share his contribution to the establishment of a democratic government, specifically within the health sector.

In addition to this, there will be a session on Gaza during which the Jewish leadership will report back on issues affecting the Jewish community during Gaza, including anti-Semitism and media bias.

The SAJBD, through its conferences and other internal projects, engages actively on issues with the Jewish community and the broader South African citizenry. While its primary audience and constituency is the Jewish community, it creates platforms of dialogue and is the interface between the minority group and the broader South African population.

During the Apartheid years, although constituting a small minority of the population, the Jewish community played a disproportionate role in the struggle for democracy.  The book Jewish Memories of Mandela, which chronicles some of the stories from those dark years, will be available at the conference.

NB:  RSVP Essential:  Jenni@sajbd.org. or 011 645 2521

 

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SAJBD2

 

Charisse Zeifert will interview Bonaventure Kageruka on Chai FM this Friday from 12:20

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http://www.ornico.co.za/editorialstream/OwnMediaAttachments/2014-09-05_1663946.pdf 

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Mary Kluk’s, Above Board

4 September 2014

On 14 September, delegates representing a wide range of Gauteng Jewish organisations will be coming together for the SAJBD’s biennial Gauteng Council conference. The theme of the conference is ‘Celebrating 20 Years of Freedom’, but in light of recent events, there will also be a special focus on the impact of the Gaza conflict on […]

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Article by Associate Director David Saks that appeared in the Sunday Times on 24 August

27 August 2014
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Report on the SAJBD’s Tribute to Chiune Sugihara evening

27 August 2014

Members of the Jewish and Japanese communities, diplomats, business leaders and Holocaust survivors packed into the Abe Abrahamson Auditorium at Beyachad last Wednesday to remember Chiune Sugihara, the heroic Japanese diplomat who exceeded his authority to issue 6000 life-saving visas to Jewish refugees during World War II. The event took place under the combined auspices […]

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David Sacks gives another Opinion Piece

23 July 2014

‘Hitler got it right’ goes multiracial A posting by Rene Smit, an obscure ANC party worker in the Western Cape, quickly went viral when it emerged that it sang the praises of Adolf Hitler for killing off the Jews and intimated that had been retro-actively justified by the behaviour to date of those Jews who […]

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Associate Director David Sacks’ Opinion Piece on the Gaza conflict appeared in the Saturday Star on 19 July 2014

21 July 2014

Click on the link to view David Sacks’ opinion piece SAJDB pdf_01

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SAJBD and SAZF Strongly Deplore and Condemn ANC Statement regarding Situation in Israel

10 July 2014

  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 […]

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