The South African Jewish community is outraged over Cabinet’s decision approving the Minister of Trade and Industry’s notice requiring that goods emanating from what it refers to as “Israeli occupied territories” be relabeled. In acting in so cavalier a manner, government has not only bypassed the consultation process set in motion by the notice but shown itself to be completely dismissive of Jewish concerns.
As a community, South African Jewry has consistently demonstrated a willingness to engage with government regarding this complex and controversial issue. Just as consistently, however, its representatives have been denied any meaningful opportunity of explaining their position and airing the concerns they feel.
It is the firm belief of the Jewish communal leadership that the proposed measures are discriminatory, divisive, inconsistent with South African trade policy and seriously flawed from both an administrative and procedural point of view. At bottom, they are believed to be motivated not by technical trade concerns but by political bias against the State of Israel. All attempts to discuss these concerns, however, have come to nothing.
While the Jewish leadership has shown a willingness to discuss compromises and explore solutions that might allay the concerns of all parties, the government has refused to meaningfully engage on the issue. Regrettably, this in turn is indicative of government’s increasingly hostile attitude not against Israel but towards acknowledging and engaging with how the Jewish community feels about issues relating to it.
Issued by Zev Krengel, President: SA Jewish Board of Deputies, 082 557 9681
Avrom Krengel, Chairman: SA Zionist Federation
Chief Rabbi Dr Warren Goldstein, 010 214 2603