Hamas attacks have shaken community, says Jewish Board of Deputies
The recent attacks by Hamas militia in Israel have worsened the conflict in the region and shaken SA’s Jewish community.
The SA Jewish community has announced it will hold prayer sessions, solidarity events and actions in support of Israel over the coming days.
“Though it seems like a conflict happening very far away, I think everybody needs to understand how small the Jewish community globally is, and how strongly connected the Jewish community around the world is to Israel, including the Jewish community in SA,” said Karen Milner, national chair of the SA Jewish Board of Deputies.
“The Jewish community in SA has religious, historical and cultural — and most importantly in this context — very close family connections to Jews in Israel. What happened ... the barbarism, the extent of the attack, has shaken our community to its core,” Milner said.
The SA Jewish Board of Deputies and SA Zionist Federation held a joint press briefing on Monday to express “prayers, sympathies and condolences” after the attacks in Israel which claimed more than 800 lives with hundreds still missing.
“If you think of the number of people who are affected by these attacks in the context of the entire Israeli community and global Jewish community, you realise that the numbers are a significant proportion of Jews in Israel.”
Milner said every SA Jew knows at least one person affected by the attacks.
“Everyone of us knows someone or knows of someone who has been killed or is missing in Israel ... there’s two people I know personally. The one is a friend of my daughter, he’s 21 years old and he was at the concert,” Milner said.
This is a “tremendous trauma to our community that we feel very deeply”, he said.
Rowan Polovin, national chair of the SA Zionist Federation, said SA has unfortunately removed itself from the “broader peace initiative” happening between Israel and other nations in the Middle East and Africa.
“SA has the ability to be a mediator, to play a mediatory role, but that requires some sympathy for the Israeli side ... but [SA] takes the anti-Israel line,” Polovin said.
The ANC on Sunday called for peace in the Gaza Strip, describing Palestine’s reality as a replica of apartheid SA. Party spokesperson Mahlengi Bhengu-Motsiri said according to Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, Israel is a blatant apartheid state that methodically imposes privilege on Jewish Israelis’ behalf and discriminates against Palestinians.
“According to a report by Human Rights Watch, ‘the laws, policies and statements by leading Israeli officials make plain the objective of maintaining Jewish Israeli control over demographics, political power and land has long guided government policy’.”
In pursuit of this goal, Israeli authorities have dispossessed, confined, forcibly separated and subjugated Palestinians by their identity to varying degrees of intensity, she said.
“It can no longer be disputed that apartheid SA’s history is occupied Palestine’s reality. As a result, the decision by Palestinians to respond to the brutality of the settler Israeli apartheid regime is unsurprising.”
Bhengu-Motsiri said the ANC stands with the people of occupied Palestine as it is clear that the degenerating security situation is directly linked to the unlawful Israeli occupation.
“Israel’s policy of settling its civilians in occupied Palestinian territory and displacing the local population contravenes fundamental rules of international humanitarian law.
She said the fourth Geneva Convention states that the occupying power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.
The article prohibited “individual or mass forcible transfers, as well as deportations of protected persons from occupied territory”, Bhengu-Motsiri said.
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