Howard Feldman

It's not easy being a Jew in South Africa

2018-02-26 11:17
Naledi Pandor, minister of science and technology. PHOTO: Gallo images/ Getty images

Naledi Pandor, minister of science and technology. PHOTO: Gallo images/ Getty images

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This is the tweet that I sent to South Africa's newly elected president, Cyril Ramaphosa, and minister of science and technology and ANC MP, Naledi Pandor, one of the contenders for the deputy president position:

"Two consequences that will naturally follow the ANC's hatred and obsession with Israel: 1. A rise in anti-Semitism. 2. A rise of terror within SA borders. Both are already a problem. The power sits with you to change it."

That was before I read reports of the comments made by ANC MPLs in the Western Cape legislature. It was less than a day later that I had cause to tweet the following:

"The ANC has institutionalised anti-Semitism. The party's rabid obsession with Israel and embracing of the racist BDS movement & terror organisations will be their undoing. 'Zille is too much in love with the Jewish mafia'."

According to ANC MPL Sharon Davids the DA "fabricated" the Day Zero water crisis in the Western Cape in order to set the scene for the desalination contracts and kickbacks that would follow from the "Jewish mafia". It's a comment that is bizarre and frightening on so many levels.

To date there has been no censure, no apology and no statement from the ANC.

There has not even been comment from Jewish community structures who are clearly grappling to find a way to handle this type of unprovoked attack.

But it should not come as a surprise that the age old sentiment that "Jews control the economy and the media and the banks and, like, everything" has now taken root within the minds of the ruling party because what started with anti-Zionism has now transitioned to classic, old-fashioned anti-Semitism. It always does.

In the 21st century, it's no longer a blood libel, where Jews were falsely accused of killing Christian children in order to use their blood to bake Passover bread (matza). Today in South Africa, it is about the water. The methodology is as old as time but the bigots are just the same.

It is not easy to be Jewish in South Africa. Not with an ANC government that has institutionalised anti-Semitism. Not when the ANC openly embraces terror organisation Hamas, who has vowed in their charter to hunt down every Jew (as they hide behind rocks) and kill them.

It's not easy to be a Jew in South Africa when history is being rewritten to exclude the Jewish contribution to the anti-apartheid movement.

It's not easy to be a Jew in South Africa when Israel is constantly singled out as being the only country to deal with the apartheid government, when in fact the oil that fuelled the racist government came from the Arab countries in the Middle East.

It is not easy to be a Jew in South Africa when the illegal refugee crisis in Israel is turned into a racial issue by the ANC and the media – especially when South Africa herself deports around 250 000 illegal Africans per year. And when South Africans have chased down African immigrants and murdered them in the streets.

It is not easy to be a Jew in South Africa when the Israel-Palestinian conflict is portrayed as a one-sided, one-dimensional colonialist story of oppression much like apartheid South Africa. And where it is not recognised that Jews are the indigenous people of the country and have been for thousands of years. And that maybe the conflict is more complex than portrayed.

It is not easy to be a Jew in South Africa when the racist BDS movement has captured government and works tirelessly to promote ant-Semitism.

It's not easy to be a Jew in South Africa when the person who is tipped to be the deputy president stands up in Parliament and mentions her support for cutting ties with Israel. All whilst more than half a million people have been killed in Syria and the ANC has remained silent. And whilst the ANC didn't want to "interfere in the domestic affairs of Zimbabwe" knowing full well that Mugabe was starving and brutalising his people.

South Africa has remained shamefully silent on the African slave trade in Libya and the conditions of African workers who might as well be slaves in many Arab countries. She has remained silent on the plight for women's rights in Iran and on the plight of the Tibetans and the Kurds. Not to even mention the plight of African children stolen by Boko Haram.

Because for the South African government what applies to the rest of the world doesn't apply to Israel and to the Jews of the country.

It should be no surprise that the number of recent terror related cases in South Africa has increased. There is a clear indication that the country is being used for training, recruitment and procurement for terror organisations around the world. Isis, Hamas and Hezbolla are a few whose presence has been confirmed so far.

The ANC and the country has a new president in Cyril Ramaphosa. He has largely been greeted with great optimism and excitement. But it is critical that he builds confidence and he is competent in rooting out corruption. He also needs to convince all the people of the country that racism in any form, including anti-Semitism, will not be tolerated. And that it will not be tolerated within his organisation.

The ANC MPL who referred to the "Jewish mafia" needs to be fired. The ANC needs to apologise, not only to Jews of the country, but to the nation as a whole. Because no form of racism is acceptable.

Ramaphosa needs to assure South African Jews that they are safe and valued just like all citizens and that they have no need to be afraid.

- Feldman is the author of Carry on Baggage and Tightrope and the afternoon drive show presenter on Chai FM.

Disclaimer: News24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24.

Read more on:    cyril rama­phosa  |  western cape  |  hamas  |  jews
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