World WIZO Talking Tachlis was delighted to speak to lawyer, businesswoman, mother and cancer survivor – Galit Levi. This is a story that will inspire and uplift you!
World WIZO Talking Tachlis was delighted to speak to lawyer, businesswoman, mother and cancer survivor – Galit Levi. This is a story that will inspire and uplift you!
This article currently appears on Israelink:
Diplomatic relations between Israel and South Africa have always been a bit tenuous. It is a story of shaky alliances, distrust in parts, and a lot of speculation.
Mandela and Peres embrace
It is a relationship that certainly garners its fair share of column inches and discussion.
The relationship between Israel and South Africa goes back to the earliest days of the establishment of the modern state of Israel.
South Africa was among the 33 states that voted in favour of the 1947 UN Partition Plan that would move to establish of a Jewish State in Palestine, and was one of only four Commonwealth nations to do so. This vote would have hopefully led to the establishment of an Arab state as well, but a coalition of Arab states unfortunately declined, preferring to declare war on the fledgling Jewish state.
On 24 May 1948, nine days after Israel’s declaration of independence, the South African government under Prime Minister Jan Smuts, a long-time supporter of Zionism, granted de facto recognition to the State of Israel. This was just two days before his United Party was voted out of office and replaced by the pro-Apartheid National Party.
South Africa was the seventh nation to recognise the newly declared State of Israel. At the zenith of its communal history, South Africa had 110,000 Jews, a figure which included more than 15,000 Israeli citizens.
The accusation of Israel supporting South Africa during the Apartheid years has sadly become commonplace today. Mainly dredged up by detractors who conveniently forget that many other countries, including those in the Arab world, not only supplied weapons but also the fuel on which the Apartheid machine ran. It was Nelson Mandela who made the following comment about South Africa and Israel’s relationship, “Israel cooperated with the apartheid regime, but it did not participate in any atrocities.” Mandela enjoyed close relationships with many Zionist leaders including Natan Sharansky, famous human rights icon and Soviet dissident and famously spoke about admiring Menachem Beginand the way he led Israeli fighters against the British, “I read The Revolt by Menachem Begin and was encouraged by the fact that the Israeli leader had led a guerrilla force in a country with neither mountains nor forests, a situation similar to our own.”
South Africans showing their support outside the Israeli Embassy in Pretoria
So why has this relationship taken a downward turn?
Post-Apartheid, the relationship between these two states has become decidedly more complicated. Could it be because of historical alliances between the ANC and the PLO? Are there elements within the government and lobby groups who are pushing their agendas to subvert any relationship between the two countries? Why is South Africa, who shares many similarities and challenges with the Jewish state, singling her out for opprobrium at the expense of other serious conflicts in the world, including a collapsed economy as a neighbour and a genocide stricken continent?
Is this all a ploy to distract from domestic issues?
Officially, the South African government support a Two-State solution for Israel and the Palestinians. There are elements within the ruling ANC party who would prefer that South Africa adopts a policy of boycotting the Jewish state. The ANC will convene at its elective conference on the 16th of December and high on the agenda (besides the potential new leadership) is whether the Embassy in Tel Aviv should be downgraded.
There Are No Winners!
A downgrade of the Embassy, while mildly upsetting to Israelis, will far more undermine South Africa.
First, the continuing flagrant bias demonstrated by South Africa in the absence of any semblance of impartiality, undercuts any significant role that South Africa envisaged for itself in brokering a peace deal in the Middle East. When South Africa emerged out of the dark Apartheid past, the country was respected as the benchmark on conflict resolution. Sadly, over the years the African state has demonstrated remarkable bias – hardly a component of conflict resolution – against the state of Israel, and actions like the proposed downgrading of ties, only reinforces the fact that they no longer have a role to play.
In an interview for the website politicalanalysis.co.za, ANC NEC International Relations subcommittee member, Ebrahim Ebrahim, expressed that should a decision be made to shut down the Embassy in Tel Aviv, South Africa would have to shut down their mission in Ramallah as well. So really, if you look at this, it is a situation where there clearly are no winners.
Trade between the two countries, while modest, is still very important at a time when South Africa’s economy is so precarious.
Can South Africa really afford to lose more trade and investment?
I don’t think so.
South Africa’s Ambassador to Israel, Sisa Ngombane signs a guest book with former President, Shimon Peres
Israel in the Vanguard
The Israeli economy is robust, with the shekel currently holding the position as the second strongest currency in the world and comes at a time when South Africa’s fellow Brics partners as well as other major emerging economies like China and Latin America are expanding ties with the Jewish state.
And it not just trade but the wealth of knowledge and help that Israelis bring with them in the fields of cybersecurity, agri-tech, fintech, bio-tech, medicine and all the many other fields where Israel is fast becoming a world leader. Many ordinary South Africans who couldn’t give a hoot about politics in a region that they have no ties to because they are more concerned with feeding their own families, will lose out.
Groundbreaking Israeli water technology could provide much needed solutions to South Africa’s crippling drought problem.
Why is the South African government so hellbent on importing conflict into the country?
Israel’s Regional Minister, Tzachi Hanegbi meets with South Africa’s Environment Minister, Bomo Molewa
How would this affect Israel?
There is no doubt that a diplomatic snub like this would make Israelis bristle, but will this affect the economy and cause a great change in policy? No.
This could affect the levels of tourism between the two countries. Tens of thousands of Christian pilgrims as well as members of the Jewish community visit the Holy Land every year and this could create obstacles.
Israelis visit South Africa as well, many for business but a significant number for leisure.
Israel also has a large South African expat community who depend on services offered by the Embassy and downgrading will affect them as well as undermine the constitutional rights of those living in South Africa’s to practice and enjoy their religious rights.
It would be prudent of the South African government to consider the well-being of their citizens and how the downgrading of the Embassy in Tel Aviv not only affects their daily lives but also greatly changes the status of the country from once lauded benchmark to future laughing stock.
This article currently appears on Israelink:
It is news so fake that it has birthed an industry! In fact, there is a term for this kind of drivel – Pallywood. It is a combination of what you get when you mix Palestinian news manipulations with a healthy dose of Hollywood special effects.
If the Academy of Motion Pictures, Arts and Sciences had a special category for this, it would take a clean sweep of gold Oscar statues every year. Could you imagine the acceptance speeches! In all seriousness, in era where social media has created citizen journalists and armchair generals and the term “fake news” is flung about without the responsibility of proper journalism, media consumers are buying the lies and this is propagating a lot of anti-Israel sentiment – sometimes resulting in violence.
This is not a new trend, in fact it has been around long enough to create real damage. And it does. Nobody wants to be seen to not be supportive of human rights and those responsible for the staging of these “news stories” know this and capitalize on people’s good intentions.
Listed below, are some notable episodes of Pallywood.
Mohammed Al Dura – a bloodless libel?
This was the story that brought the term “Pallywood” to global conscience. France 2, who screened the “footage” of the event claimed that he had been killed by IDF troops. Al-Dura became the global symbol of Palestinian resistance. The image of the little boy Mohammed cradled in his father’s arms as he lay dying was shocking. This picture was shown for days on Arab and international TV stations and was cited as inspiration by both Osama bin Laden and the killers of Wall Street Journal reporter, Daniel Pearl.
Even the IDF at the beginning, thought that they were responsible. Except many notable facts were conspicuously missing. During a later investigation it was found out that France 2 had omitted to show the last few moments of the raw footage. It was discovered that not only was Al-Dura not shot by IDF troops but that he in fact moved his hand. He was not in fact, dead.
State-owned France 2’s raw footage, as shot by Palestinian cameraman Abu-Rahma, shows no sign of blood on the wall, ground, or barrel in the area where the Al-Duras were situated. Reporters brought to the scene on October 1, however, were shown large blood stains in the vicinity of the barrel.
Is this the case of a bloodless libel? And did Mohammed in fact die or was the body shown to the media that of another al-Dura child?
Phillipe Karsenty is the founder of Media-Ratings, a group that monitors the French media. He was the one who questioned France 2’s account of the events. “Everyone in France knows the footage is a hoax,” he told The UK Independent. Conceding that the Israeli report could not be considered impartial, he added: “The governments of Hollande and Sarkozy have always known that the footage was faked. This report brings the hypocrisy into the open. The damage caused by the Al Dura hoax still reverberates around the world today.
The incredible case of the dead man who sprung to life
Not since the days of the bible have we seen such miracles happen in the Holy Land. The dead seem to spring to life again! The Pallywood industry would have you believe that the body counts are higher than they are and fail to mention, as was evident during Operation Protective Shield in 2014, that the clear majority of those killed were Hamas operatives. Only in the Middle East do the dead run alongside the stretcher that they are carried off in. Miracles!
About six minutes into this clip, you can view how miracles occur in the Holy Land when a “corpse” suddenly springs to life and jumps off his stretcher.
The great Hamas electricity crisis of 2008.
Poor Hamas. In 2008 there was such a crisis with electricity that they had to conduct a parliamentary meeting by candlelight. As this took place during the day, wouldn’t it have been more simple if they had just opened the curtains to let the light in? But then how would they have been able to tug on your heartstrings and make you believe that once again the evil Zionist occupiers had usurped the electricity?
In 2008, roughly 2,200,000 liters of diesel fuel were being transferred through the Nahal Oz fuel terminal to the Gaza Strip power plant weekly. This power plant is capable of supplying 30% of the total electricity requirements of the Gaza Strip. The remaining power needs are supplied by Israel and Egypt unlimited quantities of cooking gas, 800,000 liters of diesel fuel for transportation and 75,000 liters of gasoline were transferred weekly.
The gasoline and diesel fuel transferred by Israel is designated primarily for use by ambulances, water pumps, the sewage system, for the operation of generators at various institutions such as hospitals, schools and clinics, for agricultural use, transportation, school buses, food trucks, garbage collection, public transportation, shipping boats, food plants, bakeries, and so on.
It had become apparent that the Palestinians were staging an energy crisis while instigating strikes and protests. Images of closed filling stations, long lines of people and vehicles waiting many hours to fill their tanks, were all part of a planned Hamas media campaign being conducted at the expense of the civilian population – a crisis caused by their failure to pump available fuel supplies from the Nahal Oz Palestinian fuel depot.
This is not the first time that Hamas has used the civilian population of Gaza for well-coordinated photo opportunities. They have summarily exploited their elderly, women and children to be human shields in every conflagration with Israel and are proud of the fact that in doing so they prey on the heartstrings of the media consumers who are not aware of their intentions. But hey, if the truth got out how else would they be able to marshal outraged human rights activists into angry protests against Israel?
Shooting the breeze – literally!
You have heard the term “fake it till you make it”? Well, if you are bored and looking for a hobby, why not practice your incredible combat skills against an unarmed….erm….room?
The clip below demonstrates how you can play pretend battle scene and quite literally shoot the breeze! It is like a scene from a movie – only without the A-list cast. Imagine if all this energy was spent on education and improving social welfare rather than stirring up people’s anger?
UNESCO – they can fake history!
The earth is flat. The moon is made out of green cheese. The tooth fairy takes away your baby teeth and replaces them with money (well, that one may be true!). Jews have no connection to the Temple Mount and Western Wall.
The UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) voted 24-6 to give preliminary approval to a resolution that denies Jewish ties to the Temple Mount and Western Wall. These are the holiest sites in Judaism, where King Solomon’s majestic Temples once stood. This is not the only account of resolutions that nullify Jewish connections to iconic holy sites. Other resolutions include nullifying Israeli claims to Jerusalem and Hebron. The former took place on Israeli Independence Day as if to add further insult to injury. Failing to win military wars against Israel, Palestinian leaders have resorted to diplomatic warfare and expanded the remit of Pallywood to claim international institutions as a new stage. Tired of distorted history and flagrant anti-Israel sentiments, both the USA and Israel will most likely pull out of UNESCO. Perhaps the new Director General may flex her muscles but the resolutions remain consigned to history books and the worry is new generations who will believe it. Institutionalised anti-Semitism at its worst.
As media consumers, we can demand of journalists and media outlets that they report responsibly and factually. We also need to be a little bit more discerning when it comes to our news. Sadly, there are many who have just drunk the Kool Aid and believe all that is presented to them as if it were facts. It is important to be cognisant that believing the soundbites that Hamas regularly feed the media is in fact, supporting terror. Fake news can be fatal – the anger generated by faux news reports has resulted in violence and an uptick in terror attacks.
By being responsible consumers of news, we can relegate Pallywood to the garbage heap of failed ideas – which is exactly where it belongs.
This post currently appears on Israelink:
The history of the Jewish people and that of many African countries is more similar than it is different. There are some striking parallels – tribal allegiances, love of the indigenous land and a shared history of persecution and colonialism. In the fledgling days before the founding of the modern State of Israel, Jews fought to end the British mandate that effectively colonized their ancient land.
It was with philosophy that both the founder of modern Zionism, Theodore Herzl and Israel’s former foreign minister, Golda Meir, recognized that the Jewish state was the natural partner to help beleaguered African countries.
They recognized the shared desires of the African people as well as the Jews to live free in their homelands and respected the national liberation movements of the time, sensing a mutual desire to that of their own Zionist ideals. Zionism after all, is the national liberation movement of the Jewish people.
Golda dances a hora in Africa
But today, much like in many other parts of the world, anti-Semitism is rearing its ugly head on the continent. A continent that has suffered more than its own share of discrimination and persecution.
From the north to the south
Many would be surprised to find out that there once were thriving Jewish communities in many countries across the continent and while communities are sparse in sub-Saharan Africa, in Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco and Egypt, they once flourished.
The Lemba of Southern Africa, the Igbo of Nigeria, Ethiopan Jews, the Abuyudaya of Uganda and the Sephardi and Ashkenazi of Europe, many of whom settled in Africa to escape persecution and who can forget the Mizrahi Jews of Arab countries, who were forced to flee Islamic rulers.
Due to rising anti-Semitism and poverty, these communities barely exist anymore. Outside of South Africa which has the largest community on the continent, there were communities in Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan, Uganda, Zaire (the Democratic Republic of Congo) and Zimbabwe. While many left for Israel, others left for Europe or elsewhere.
The continent’s massive poverty rates and political turmoil in the late 20th century led to some African national leaders blaming Jews for the problems of their countries which they claimed, “are operated by a conspiracy against the African race”. Anti-Semitism in Africa includes false rumors and allegations that the AIDS pandemic, was bioengineered by either the US, the United Nations or “the Jews” in a plot to exterminate millions of black Africans and that the disease is a part of the “Jewish” or “white Europeans’ maneuvers against Africa” or a continuous practice of “racial genocide”. African nations are prone to accept unreliable anti-Semitic reports and revisionist history that the slavery of black Africans in the new world was because of “Jewish merchants working for European colonial masters”. According to social scientists, these theories are appealing to some impoverished and downtrodden people without enough education to know the “Jewish conspiracy” myth is false and unprovable.
The South African story
In post-Apartheid South Africa, the Jewish community has not been spared. This is particularly troubling considering that the contribution made by the Jewish community during the Apartheid years was significant in the fight to end the racist regime. One famous example was that out of the 13 Rivonia trialists, 5 were Jewish.
Who can forget the inimitable Helen Suzman, the lone voice of opposition in parliament to the Apartheid government? Jewish and a woman to boot! Some of the greatest names to enter the pantheon of anti-Apartheid activists, be it through political, cultural, religious or civil action, include Johnny Clegg, Rabbi Isaacson, Joe Slovo, Arthur Chaskalson, Nadine Gordimer, Gill Marcus and Albie Sachs to name but a few. The founding fathers of the Rainbow Nation, Mandela, Sisulu and Thambo were intimately involved with Jews, having worked alongside many throughout their legal careers. Mandela famously visited Israel with “his” Rabbi Cyril Harris and met with then Prime- Minister, Shimon Peres. Mandela famously refers to Menachem Begin and the Irgun as the basis on which he hoped to model the armed wing of the ANC, Umkhonto we Sizwe in his autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom:
“I read The Revolt by Menachem Begin and was encouraged by the fact that the Israeli leader had led a guerrilla force in a country with neither mountains nor forests, a situation similar to our own.”
When icons meet – Johannesburg, 2002
I think that these great stalwarts of human rights would be greatly hurt to witness the appalling invective levelled against South Africa’s Jewish community.
Good Jew, Bad Jew
Manifesting more as anti-Zionism rather than traditional anti-Semitism (although the two cannot be separated) the clarion call seems to be “Jews are welcome, Zionists are not.” Or are they? Over the past few years, anti-Semitism is manifesting on the Southern tip of the continent much like it is all over the world. Social media platforms have become new battlefields and threats of violence and subsequent incidents have increased.
There seems to be a division between who is termed “good” or “bad” Jew. Good Jews apparently are not Zionist and identify as Jewish by “cultural ties”, not those awful traditional, Israel loving kind. There have been atrocious incidents of anti-Semitism ranging from the BDS (Boycott Divestment and Sanctions) movement and their cries of “shoot the Jew” at a conference hosted by the South African Zionist Federation to the appalling tweets from populist Black Land First leader, Andile Mngxitama and a whole host of incidents and issues in between.
Many look to Europe or the USA as the barometer on how anti-Semitism manifests but if we ignore the South African model, we do so at our peril. It would appear that when BDS and their supporters in South Africa sneeze, their global network catches a cold. This is not to say that anti-Semitism in South Africa is restricted to BDS and the far left but the far right, perhaps emboldened by the alarming rise of their counterparts in the USA are rearing their ugly, neo-Nazi heads as well.
Wits Campus Johannesburg 2016 amidst “fees must fall”
The consequences of rising anti-Semitism in South Africa are worrying. This could mean the marginalizing of a minority group that has played a vital role in not just the fight against the injustice of the past but continues to punch far above its size in helping to build a new country. It would also result in many of South Africa’s Jews leaving for safer pastures – and along with them, investment and employment opportunities for many of the country’s impoverished.
South Africans fought against Apartheid and many paid a painful price. After the struggles of the country’s dark past, do we really want to see this vicious cycle of discrimination and racism rise again?
Silence is no longer an option and the message that Jews are just as much a colour in the Rainbow Nation as any other community needs to be heard. Loudly.
I am incensed. Outraged. Fuming. Enough is enough!! I am climbing on my battered soapbox to appeal to you all – it is time to raise our voices, scream, shout, blow fire and fight the rising hate. It is not enough to say “it is terrible” or sit on the sidelines and hope that someone else will fight the battle – we all have to show up. And the timing could not be more important!
The visuals coming in from the ultra-right or neo Nazi or whatever label one chooses to assign those spewing hatred that would not be out of place in Germany circa 1939, are beyond offensive and should have absolutely no place in our society.
Charlottesville may have brought rising anti-Semitism into global consciousness with the repulsive visuals but the reality is that this cancerous hate has been bubbling under the surface and now the situation has reached boiling point. The KKK and their ilk never went way – they were just dormant, looking for the right opportunity to don their bed-sheet outfits and flaming crosses and now their cause has been given a tailwind. In a recent poll, it was found that 1 in 10 Americans find neo-Nazi speech acceptable. Did we not vow NEVER AGAIN?
Growing up during the Apartheid years in South Africa, I witnessed what happens when racism and discrimination is allowed to flourish. This heinous, racist regime was brought to its knees and eventually ended because citizens said ENOUGH. Although there is much healing that still needs to happen and the road to reconciliation takes many detours, there is much to be gained from working hard to overcome past mistrust and hurt.
Apartheid South Africa’s discriminatory laws
Anti-Semitism is oldest hatred in the world. The premise doesn’t change – just the outfit. Whether it is disguised as anti-Zionism, calls for boycotts from BDS, snide WASPY comments, ultra-left intersectionality or neo-Nazi blood curdling hatred, if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck – it is a duck!
At the risk of sounding alarmist, the death camps like Auschwitz were built on words and this kind of speech has resulted in acts of violence across the world and they also embolden the latent racists to crawl out of their holes. From the murders of Jews in the Hyper Cacher in Paris to repugnant social media posts in South Africa, the march of hate in Charlottesville to the poster child for intersectionality, Linda Sarsour, saying “Zionists are creepy” or her comments that “Zionists cannot be feminists”. Linda I will meet you at the intersection of Zionism and Feminism anytime!
The leader of South Africa’s “Black Land First” movement tweets like a twit!
This is not a new and there is very little difference between the hate invective of neo-Nazis, Hamas or even BDS who call for the destruction of the state of Israel We are not talking buildings – but people
The oldest hatred, anti-Semitism is rising. Has risen. Continues to rise.
I think it was the wise Hillel in the Ethics of our Fathers who said “If I am not for myself, who will be for me? If I am only for myself, what am I? And if not now, when?” –
So the next time you see a swastika or even hear the call “from the river to the sea Palestine will be free “remember that these share the same root – hatred.
I am appealing not just to my Jewish brothers and sisters but to anyone who wants to see this cancerous hatred ended. Stand up. Use your voice. Take action. We have the means, now we need the numbers.
Wise words from my friend Elana Heideman of The Israel Forever Foundation
Do it for the voiceless. Do it for the generations before us who couldn’t. Do it for the generations to come. Do it to make the world a better place. Do it for yourself. When we stand tall and strong and firm in our convictions, we are indestructible! My grandfathers, of blessed memory both served in the forces that fought the Nazi war machine – who am I to be silent now?
It is time to say that it is no longer open season on Jews. Who is joining me?
This article is featured on The Israel Forever Foundation website:
A few days ago, Israel buried three members of the Saloman family, brutally slaughtered this past Friday night as they welcomed in the Sabbath. Responding to a knock on the door, the unsuspecting family let in 19 year old Omar al-Abed from the nearby village of Kobar. To say that our collective hearts are broken is an understatement.
Fueled on a steady diet of incitement and hatred, al-Abed entered the house and butchered the family, leaving a bloodbath in his wake.
Salomon family victims
One would think that news like this would grab international headlines but sadly not a peep, or a bleep. The few news channels that did cover the attacked neglected to mention that it was motivated by terror, rather using descriptions like “home invasion”.
A week before, two of Israel’s finest, Command Sergeant Major Hayil Satawi and Command Sergeant Major Kamil Shanaan were killed by terrorists while on duty on the Temple Mount. They were not Jewish, but Druze, sharing an ancient covenant with their Jewish brethren in the land of Israel.
The terrorist who targeted them did not care whether they were Jewish or not just that they wore the noble uniform of our security forces.
Terror does not discriminate. It simply kills.
Command Sergeant Major Hayil Satawi and Command Sergeant Major Kamil Shanaan
A losing battle?
More often than not I am asked whether or not we are fighting a losing battle, after all we are competing with major budgets and sheer numbers from the other side who seem to be more able to create a narrative for a gullible public than we are. In the court of public opinion, Israel is seen as the Goliath to the Palestinian David and there are no prizes for guessing who gets the sympathy vote.
The mainstream news media seem to ignore the Israeli narrative or pander to major advertisers.
I can understand their frustration – one only has to open a newspaper or surf social media to see the type of comments or sheer volume but we have the same weapons that they do and my answer to anyone who feels overwhelmed is simple. Just show up.
We all have the power to do it. We are all equipped with the same “weapons of mass education”. So let us use them effectively.
The Big Facebook Experiment
Show up on social media to share articles, memes, YouTube clips and the like. Share articles and emails. Most important learn the facts and make sure that you are armed with the truth to disarm the haters. It is important to know that every time you show up and speak the truth, you give a voice to the millions upon whose shoulders we stand. You give a voice to those throughout our history who were silenced. You give a voice to those in communities around the world who are frightened. You give a voice to those of us who refuse to be silent. And you give a voice to those murdered because others choose to use theirs to incite with hatred.
Speak for Chaya, Elad and Yosef. Speak for Gilad, Eyal and Naphtali, Speak for Hadas and Hadar. Speak for all of them. Speak for all of us. This is why we do what we do.
There is nothing like a mention of the United Nations to raise our blood pressure. This once noble institution has become a hotbed of anti-Israel activity but did you know that WIZO has a presence at the UN on UNICEF and ECOSOC? WIZO lobbies for the rights of women and children and Irecently sat down with Prof. Rivka Lazovsky to find out more. View our discussion here:
WIZO Wonder Women at the UN: Anne Argi, Prof. Rivka Lazovsky, Mireille Manocherian and Dr Hava Bugajer.