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« Rogue Democracy | Main | Guest Blog: Mbeki Not Listening »

May 29, 2008

Comments

BLACKLISTED DICTATOR

Mike,
I think that "It's Almost Supernatural" has impacted on "the mainstream discourse" of the community, whether the SAJBD like it or not.
Moreover, the SAJR has also made the SAJBD less impervious to criticism.

Bigben

Hi mike

Just a few comments on the article.

I think that it is extremely well written if nothing else. It puts into perspective a part of Jewish history in South Africa that I think is not well known or well understood by the community. It is poorer for it because our lack of knowledge lets our enemies define us in many arguments.

I think that much of what Greenberg says is valid in terms of how the community leadership reacts to the state. However I disagree that Jewish fear is the only lens through which the kind of conditions he describes can be analyzed.

The extent to which we in South Africa tend to operate as a community is perhaps unusual and not a mode of political action that is entirely universal throughout the Jewish world.

This is important because once you start to use identity politics as a mode of action it helps to create the kind of political moves that you can make. For instance Greenberg berates the lack of stance that the Jews took on with issues such as AIDS. The fact is that Muslims, Christians, Hindus etc all never took a particular stand on this issue. Rather the strongest resistance came out of a broader civil society movement that got the support of religious groups. This way of acting was better suited to dealing with the problem then a particular identity category.

I also don't think that his criticism of our social institutions being driven by fear is fair. Jewish mini welfare states have existed since Roman times and I think there are better explanations to be found in ethnic, economic, structural and geographic thinking to help us understand their how they work in South Africa. The same thing applies to the Baal Tshuva movement in the country.

This insecurity and inward movement that Greenberg identifies are part of greater process affecting South Africa as whole, particularly the white middle class parts of it. It just so happens that the particular structural/culutural environment that Jews find themselves in creates a slightly different way in which we interact with outside political process.

We are getting quite good at dealing with social action, eg xenophobia relief or the Tsunami. What worries me is that we far to apathetic when it comes to political action. Many Jewish students would rather study a Bcom than other broader types of degrees even if they find it boring. There is no problem with this as a strategy, indeed doing good business is one of the oldest Jewish survival strategies that there is. At the moment capital is an important part of the South African political landscape much as it is in the rest of the world. As long as this continues and Jews continue to grace the covers of the Financial weeklies I think we will be okay. However if this country ever becomes governed strongly on ideological or some other completely non-financial basis I hope that we have enough political capital to weather the storm. If we don't we may be left only with the other favorite Jewish survival strategy, cut and run.

Bigben

Hi mike

Just a few comments on the article.

I think that it is extremely well written if nothing else. It puts into perspective a part of Jewish history in South Africa that I think is not well known or well understood by the community. It is poorer for it because our lack of knowledge lets our enemies define us in many arguments.

I think that much of what Greenberg says is valid in terms of how the community leadership reacts to the state. However I disagree that Jewish fear is the only lens through which the kind of conditions he describes can be analyzed.

The extent to which we in South Africa tend to operate as a community is perhaps unusual and not a mode of political action that is entirely universal throughout the Jewish world.

This is important because once you start to use identity politics as a mode of action it helps to create the kind of political moves that you can make. For instance Greenberg berates the lack of stance that the Jews took on with issues such as AIDS. The fact is that Muslims, Christians, Hindus etc all never took a particular stand on this issue. Rather the strongest resistance came out of a broader civil society movement that got the support of religious groups. This way of acting was better suited to dealing with the problem then a particular identity category.

I also don't think that his criticism of our social institutions being driven by fear is fair. Jewish mini welfare states have existed since Roman times and I think there are better explanations to be found in ethnic, economic, structural and geographic thinking to help us understand their how they work in South Africa. The same thing applies to the Baal Tshuva movement in the country.

This insecurity and inward movement that Greenberg identifies are part of greater process affecting South Africa as whole, particularly the white middle class parts of it. It just so happens that the particular structural/culutural environment that Jews find themselves in creates a slightly different way in which we interact with outside political process.

We are getting quite good at dealing with social action, eg xenophobia relief or the Tsunami. What worries me is that we far to apathetic when it comes to political action. Many Jewish students would rather study a Bcom than other broader types of degrees even if they find it boring. There is no problem with this as a strategy, indeed doing good business is one of the oldest Jewish survival strategies that there is. At the moment capital is an important part of the South African political landscape much as it is in the rest of the world. As long as this continues and Jews continue to grace the covers of the Financial weeklies I think we will be okay. However if this country ever becomes governed strongly on ideological or some other completely non-financial basis I hope that we have enough political capital to weather the storm. If we don't we may be left only with the other favorite Jewish survival strategy, cut and run.

Bigben

Grrr sorry about that, it kept telling the post hadnt gone through and then Vola! there were three.

BLACKLISTED DICTATOR

Let us remove "fear" from the equation and consider how the SA jewish community would have evolved without crime, Aids and an unstable/ unpredictable ANC govt.
Let us assume that economic prosperity was also part of this paradise. And for those who like him, Tony Leon is now President of South Africa... Ronno Einstein, as a result, isn't a govt minister.

In those circumstances...
(1) The Jewish community would be bigger. Less emigration.
(2) Glenhazel would not need its own policing but it might still exist as a "ghetto".
(3) The SAJBD would still be sucking-up to the govt. DA rather than ANC.

Lawrence

Bravo to Greenberg for pointing out what a bunch of spineless wimps the SAJBD are, even though he naturally clokes the SAJBD's cravenness in academic politesse. What is needed in SA is a broadsheet along the lines of IAS, that pulls no punches on anti-semitism in the SA media, ANC, general public etc, that pulls no punches on Jewish self-loathing; as an alternative to the irrelevance of the SAJBD/Jewish Report. But I realise all the obstacles in the way here, not least of which is a declining in number and insular bury their heads in the sand Jewish community - precisely what Greenberg details.

And Krengel with his give-away idiocy "friends will listen to you.." Krengel the ANC are not our friends any more than they are friends of the poor, if the ANC scapegoats the Jew nation as a diversion from their own crimes and support Palestinian terrorists and the Iranian regime, they are not our friends. Not hard to understand, is it? The ANC have chosen to be our enemies, calling the all too loud and unashamed self-declared enemies of the Jew among the nations "friends", doesn't make them friends. Calling Hamas, Fatah and Ahmandinjehad supporters our friends, as Krengel does, tells us everything I need to know about the Quisling leadership of the SAJBD.

BLACKLISTED DICTATOR

Lawrence,
Sometimes I wonder whether the SAJBD's motivation is to get themselves photographed without govt ministers.

Steve

Bigben,
Excellent comment. You put it very well. I agree that the criticism of our social institutions is unfair.

Of course the creation of CAP is out of a fear of crime and the knowledge that we need to be proactive and try to take control of our destiny in SA.

But the vast majority of our social institutions are based on the Jewish ideas of Chesed and Tzedaka. The maturity of administration is possibly a function of Jews feeling like outsiders and not relying on others - not just in SA but throughout eternity.

The idea of a "traditional" Jew is very strong in South Africa whereas it is very weak in most other diaspora communities. Something has worked here that enforces a proud sense of identity amongst most Jews. That special something seems to be missing in most other diaspora countries where the numbers of Jews are declining rapidly - and that has nothing to do with emmigration.

BLACKLISTED DICTATOR

Steve,
You write:
"The idea of a "traditional" Jew is very strong in South Africa whereas it is very weak in most other diaspora communities. Something has worked here that enforces a proud sense of identity amongst most Jews."

I have to conclude that the reason for this was "apartheid" which kept people in separate boxes. Intermarriage as a result was not really on the agenda for Jewish South Africans.

Castor Troye

A brilliantly written article by Greenberg. I think he tells it like it is. Ironically, it takes someone outside of the country to tell us how hot or cold the water is.

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