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« Vote the Supernatural Ticket | Main | Electronic Intifada Man Caught Out »

March 08, 2007



You are naively optimistic. I am cynically pessimistic. You appeal to the notion of human rights, the South African constitution and the democratic spirt within the country to protect you. I appeal to my grandfather's stories of escaping from Poland during the nazi occupation. You see yourself as a South African Jew, safeguarded from discrimination. I see myself as a Jew with South African citizenship, ready to be disposed of when the blood thirsty mob decides that the time has come.

I applaud you for your idealisim, in thinking that the quiet voice of the tiny Jewish community could protect us harm. I feel that the stage is very large and anti-Jewish sentiments are very strong. I can't rely on the government to keep my family safe.

Perhaps my "always keep a suitcase packed" mentality is a little outdated, indicative of holocaust bedtime stories. I'm not so sure that the world is so different a place to what it was 65 years ago.


Steve its great question and it goes to the heart of the problem that the leadership of this community faces. Most affiliated South African Jews to not feel as if they are an integral part of South African society. And truthfully they are not.

Also they generally have very little respect for or understanding of democracy and human rights. They are completely self obsessed.

If there was widespread anti-Semitism in South Africa, it would not only be a problem for Jews. It would represent a serious threat to South African democracy generally. They should lobby all parties (NGOs, the government, other minority groups) on this very basis. But they can never think further than their own issues. If this fails, there are international mechanisms in place that could be used to censure the South African government for its inaction.

I can not imagine the British or American Jewish community behaving in such an absurd manner. The leadership of this community remind me of the Judenrad of the Lodz ghetto. But they learnt all too tragically that ‘Arbeit’ does not ‘Mak Frei’.


Adi, thanks for the response. I do think you should reconsider your opinion here.

You are basically saying that you can tolerate a situation where we are here on sufferance.

If there was a situation where the only thing keeping us safe was our contribution to SA in general, then in my opinion that would be the time to take your packed suitcase and leave.

My idealist approach would send the right signals instead of covering the truth with a naive fog.

We would know that we are not wanted and we would need to leave.

Disclaimer: I do not think that this scenario in any way reflects the situation in South Africa. Statistics show that anti-Semitism here is lower than most other places in the world. The point of this debate regards how minority and special interest groups position themselves vis-a-vis the rest of South Africa and the government.

Mike, I agree that we need to become more integrated whilst still retaining our identities. The SAJBD are involved in some new projects that contribute to SA in general but most of us don't know about these projects and therefore can't get involved.


I agree with you Steve, about the fact that the government should protect all minorities who might be under threat, regardless of their contribution to the country. However I also agree that in reality, the government has shown itself already not to care too much about the fates of those who are poor, and without political clout. Thus the only way to get them to protect a certain community might be if they realise they stand to lose financially. However, the South African government has shown that it is unable to cope with crime, which is a threat to all communities, in particular the business community. We don't have a very logical government, and given who they are choosing to align themselves with at the moment, I wouldn't rely on them to protect the Jewish community if it was needed.

I do think though that Jews might benefit from not having a flight mentality. They should live in the countries they live in as full citizens, with the same rights to protection as any other citizens, without the constant thought of an outside option. The thing is though, would you rather be right and dead, or possibly wrong, far away from danger and very much alive. I know what I would choose.

If Iran really becomes a physical threat to Israel, I'll let you know how quickly my bags will be packed.


All good points Kat. If I ever felt that I lived here under sufferance I would run. (This is just general talk let me reiterate. I think this question may be more significant for the larger white minority group or the Afrikaner minority group who seem to be facing a very real identity challenge from government. The Jewish community is fairly well off here in terms of government relations.)

"If Iran really becomes a physical threat to Israel, I'll let you know how quickly my bags will be packed."

And back to SA you would come?


I honestly don't know. It's between the frying pan and the fire in my opinion - in terms of crime etc (not specifically a threat to any minority group).
But I don't know if I have the energy to figure out another new country. I think thats why people put up with a lot in their countries - it is a huge effort to move, incredibly costly, and sometimes you may feel like your new country is not much better!


Sorry Steve. I can't help but being irritated by your lala land point of view. Yes I too would love to have world peace, no hunger and only happy little bunny rabbits to occupy my mind. But we can't always have what we want. Whether you want to believe that Jews living anywhere are anyhthing more than tolerated, where you start to believe that human rights will actually be applied to Jews as with everywhere else in history and when you start to believe that the Non-Jewish world will trwat us as equals, then you not only ignore the lessons taught by 2000 years of exile history, but you also ignore the glaring reality of today. Your very website exists to point out the blatant and illogical bias against Israel - a bias that defies truth. And yet you wish to appeal to the very same people for protection on the basis of ethical responsibilty. SA Jews are there on sufference - as long as thr Non Jews are prepared to tolerate us they'll let us stay - history has taught us that. If the Jews in SA need protection they should plead on a basis of the most effective arguement - not the one the world's bunny huggers would want to hear and will only irritate the very people you are requesting from.


The sad truth is that the Jews in South Africa are running scared. At the moment there is a worldwide campaign to equate the Israelis with the former apartheid South African state. How many do anything to
combat this? I know that i will be savaged for this but South African Jewry is gutless.
Would they have fought The Nazis on the beaches or would they have built sandcastles?


a little late in the day, this thread is lower down now, but anyhow my two cents (I hope some people may still read this).... I get Brett's point: namely expecting some kind of protection or help from the SA govt re threats to SA's Jewish community is like expecting the fox to protect the chicken coop from harm. Your own website extensively documents the ANC's blatant bias against Israel and their overt support for Israel's enemies including Iran.

The ANC is leading the way hand in hand with the SA media in scapegoating the Jews (ie the Jew nation) as a distraction from its own and SA's many big problems like crime, corruption etc etc. The question of what we should ask the govt to do re tackling anti-Semitism would be just like impoverished black people in the townships pleading for help from the AWB, Wit Wolve and other white supremacists in tackling and overcoming the various problems in the townships. In which parallel universe is this exactly? As Brett points out, your own posts on this website re the SA govt and its stance on Israel contradict such naivite.

This meeting you attended depresses me, not the meeting per se, but the cluelessness of the Jewish community as a whole, namely failing to see or point out the bloody obvious, that is, the govt is part of the problem re SA's considerable anti-Semitism, not a party that in anyway can be considered part of a solution to SA's very high levels of anti-Semitism.


Wow. Brett, I'm surprised that you take such a black and whote view to a trying question that, as Mike says, "goes to the heart of the problem that the leadership of this community faces."

But Brett, maybe you are right. Maybe we should all be good little diaspora Jews, cow-tow to all ANC ideologies, and then thank all South Africans for tolerating us. Maybe we could lobby for Jews to pay a Jizya style tax to ensure that we are tolerated for a little longer.

If I ever thought that we had to prove our worth to government in order to survive then I would try to leave.

I believe you are incorrect in accusing me of ignoring our 2000 year history. Our history teached that Jewish leaders time and again have tried to purchase tolerance -and this has always ended in tragedy.

Jewish leaders who have stood up to the world and shed the shackles of sufferance have made significant achievements. If the early Zionists adopted your 'real world' approach then today there would be no Israel.


I can accept that people see merit in the realist approach of playing the good little diaspora Jew.

But my argument is totally consistent with my numerous posts criticising the ANC.

My argument supports public criticism of the ruling party. The realist approach more often adopts the politics of quiet influence instead of public criticism.


Steve. You misunderstood my point. I was not suggesting cowering to anyone, although that may not necessarily be the worst thing to do. Since the beggining of the exile our Rabbis have taught that whilst in diaspora we definitely do not have the upper hand and should let sleeping dogs lie. But that is a seperate issue. What I was pointing out was the non-sensical approach of asking those who have openly stated their disdain for us, spreading brazen-faced lies about, for protection based on their ethical responsibility to us. Regarding your second point - leaving. I made the point on this site last week - The writing is on the wall - Jews not wanting to leave SA fit into one of 3 categories: Insane, stupid or in denial. (Note: I do not wish to offend anyone with this comment - I understand the many logistical, financial and other difficulties involved in emmigration - I am referring to those who, even if the oppertunity exists chose not to leave because of the belief that things will get better or even stay the same)


My stay/go decision would be purely based on the rampant crime. Any anti-Semitism pales into insignificance against the general crime problem.

Remove crime and SA provides one of the best places on earth for Jews (or anyone for that matter) to live.

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