Is this what we fought for?

On the 21st of March, South Africans commemorated Human Rights day. In the post-Apartheid era, this day has been set aside to reflect on South Africa’s painful and racist past. It is a day of remembrance for the many that fought valiantly, some even paying the ultimate price so that all South Africans could live free and equal and no longer discriminated against.

But racism is raising its ugly head once again in the Rainbow Nation.


Cartoon courtesy of RAFO

Over the past year, anti-Semitism has risen to alarming levels around the world and South Africa seems to have caught this dangerous virus. While anti-Semitism doesn’t manifest its nastiness in the same format as we have seen in Europe which is classified as more “traditional” but it is no less nefarious. At least in Europe, governments are expressing outrage and vowing to crack down on protagonists. In South Africa the silence is deafening.

If we were looking at who the main culprits are, we would have to look no further than BDS South Africa. Not content with spewing their ridiculous calls for boycotts, divestment and sanctions, over the last year this band of hoodlums have gone as far to chant “shoot the Jew” at a concert given by an Israeli artist, embark on a campaign of thuggery against the popular chain Woolworths over the miniscule amount of produce they import from Israel and intimidate and threaten students on university campuses, especially during their annual hate festival, Israel Apartheid Week. Who can forget the infamous pigs-head incident and twits who tweet nasty?

Several weeks ago, the Belligerent, Destructive and Stupid, demonstrated outside the venue where the South African Zionist Federation were hosting their conference. Screaming invective such as “You think this is Israel, we will kill you” and “You Jews do not belong in South Africa”, BDS and their supporters proved once again that their motivation is not concern for Palestinian Human Rights but rather a hatred and intolerance for Jews. Palestinian human rights activist, Basseim Eid, who was part of a delegation to combat the crazy on campus was verbally and physically assaulted and had to be escorted to safety by security.

Woolworths again felt the wrath of the BDS supporters a few weeks ago when 21 youths between the ages of 16-18 descended on a branch in Pretoria armed with bricks and sharp objects. Chanting “Israel is the devil” they proceeded to loot and damage the store. “I was terrified, these kids were up in arms and ready for war” said one eye-witness. They left behind their evidence –  BDS pamphlets – perhaps spending more time studying and less time looting would make for smarter criminal tactics!

It seems that university campuses around the world are the prime hotbed of anti-Israeli activity and students at the University of Cape Town were shocked to the core to see pamphlets of Hitler and swastikas pasted to column s around school. While the intention was not specifically aimed at Jews but rather in protest against a statue of Cecil John Rodes, a British colonialist, the trauma and distress it caused the Jewish students cannot be ignored. This is an especially sensitive issue as hot off the heels of the visit by arch terrorist, Leila Khaled, whose claim to fame is airline hijacking, the Durban University of Technology called for the expulsion of Jewish students who do not support the Palestinian cause. Thank goodness that the Vice Chancellor issued an outright condemnation.


Pamphlets pasted on University of Cape Town Campus

The most recent cause for alarm was the verbal and physical assault of three kippa wearing teenage boys who went to watch a movie at popular Johannesburg mall, “The Zone”. They were accosted by three males who called them “f**ing Jews” and “Your f**ing people are killing our innocent children” and punched one of the teens.  Security footage has been obtained and charges have been filed. The community has responded with a call for everyone to show solidarity and stand up against racism by appealing that as many as possible come to The Zone wearing a kippa or a hat and going to see a movie. The event was held this past Saturday to tremendous response. Now that’s what I call a yarmy army!


The Yarmy Army wants your support! Image courtesy of Spotlighting

South Africa is of great strategic importance. Often dismissed because relations between Jerusalem and Pretoria are strained, South Africa was the host country of the UN Conference against Racism which birthed BDS and their merry band of morons. South Africa is also the birthplace and final resting place of Apartheid which forms the central charge that Israel’s detractors level against the Jewish state to question her right to exist. Whatever happens in South Africa is seen as the benchmark by which we measure racism. Dismiss this at our peril!

I grew up in South Africa and although I no longer live there, choosing instead to make Israel my home, my love and connection for the Jewish community remain strong and deep. This is a community, who has a strong Jewish and Zionist identity and is cohesive and strong have contributed well above their weight to the country. With a noble and proud history of activism, both against the repugnant Apartheid system and in love of our beloved State of Israel, South African Jewry can stand tall and strong.  It is very distressing to see what is happening and I cannot help but cry for the beloved country. Being so far away makes me feel so helpless but at the same time I look at the tremendous courage and defiance shown by the community and their supporters and feel a huge sense of pride. You rock your strong, proudly South African and Zionist selves!

Why are so many glomming on to anti-Semitic rhetoric or following BDS like blind sheep? Is it a latent hatred or are they feeling so disheartened and let down by economic conditions that the world’s most convenient stereotype of blame, the Jews, are the target of their rage? Many of the protesters bussed in to these rallies have no idea why they are there but there is a fair contingent who are drunk and delirious with hatred.

The fathers of modern democratic South Africa, Sisulu, Thambo and Mandela would be heartbroken to see how a community that they had much love and affinity for being subjected to such nastiness. I cannot help but think that they would ask the question “is this what we fought so hard for? “


Nelson Rolihlala Mandela – father of modern democratic South Africa

1 thought on “Is this what we fought for?

  1. Rolene makes the sound point that the SILENCE from our governing politicians in South Africa on the subject of vile anti Semitism, is deafening and mind boggling given our racist history. Howard Joffe Capetown


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