Calls on South Africans to speak out in sup­port for Is­rael

The South African Jewish com­mu­nity and Is­rael has mas­sive sup­port from the broader, par­tic­u­larly Chris­tian, peo­ple of this coun­try. This point was made clear at The South African Friends of Is­rael( SA FI )“Bring­ing Is­rael to Africa” con­fer­ence on Sun­day.

Inner City Gazette - - News - By: Jor­dan Moshe

The con­fer­ence brought to­gether re­li­gious and po­lit­i­cal lead­ers and other rep­re­sen­ta­tives from across the spec­trum. Amid cries of “G-d bless Is­rael!” and “Viva Is­rael!”, the Na­tional Chair­man of SAFI, Ben Swartz, mounted the stage of the Jo­han­nes­burg City Hall with a clear mes­sage. “It’s time for us to stop be­ing a silent majority in this coun­try. We are here to show our sup­port and make sure that we are heard.”

Among those present were Is­raeli Am­bas­sador Lior Keinan; the Pres­i­dent of the Coun­cil of Churches of South Africa, Arch­bishop Mbulelo Mvubu; Rev­erend Ken­neth Meshoe, the founder and Chief Ex­ec­u­tive of In­no­va­tion Africa Si­van Ya’ari; Mu­nic­i­pal Coun­cil Coun­cil­lor, Dr Mpho Pha­latse; and sev­eral oth­ers. When Chief Rabbi Dr War­ren Gold­stein stood up to speak, many in the au­di­ence were vis­i­bly moved, ris­ing from their seats.

“When Joshua as­sumed lead­er­ship of the Jewish peo­ple,” said Gold­stein, “G-d de­liv­ered these words to him: ‘Be strong and coura­geous’. These words ap­ply not only to Joshua, but to us here as well. We are blessed with strength and courage to stand up and make our voices heard in sup­port of Is­rael.”

The need for courage was fur­ther em­pha­sised by Is­raeli Am­bas­sador Lior Keinan. Af­ter out­lin­ing the in­nu­mer­able suc­cesses Is­rael had achieved in the space of only seventy years, Keinan said that the chal­lenges faced by sup­port­ers of the state still lay ahead.

“The BDS threat­ens us reg­u­larly,” he said. “They threaten to demon­strate at any event we host, look­ing to dis­rupt it, and pre­vent it from go­ing ahead. They even threat­ened to protest out­side this con­fer­ence here to­day, but we went ahead, and made sure our voices were not silent!”

Ex­press­ing con­tempt for the BDS, church pas­tors in at­ten­dance rose in in­dig­na­tion and yelled, “Laat hulle kom! Devils! Sin­ners! Who do they think they are? Let them come here and challenge us!”

There were con­tin­ued out­breaks of vo­calised sen­ti­ment as the morn­ing pro­gressed. With a Tanach in hand, the Deputy Di­rec­tor Gen­eral of Mac­cabi World Union, Rabbi Car­los Tapiero, swept across the stage mak­ing it clear that the right of the Jewish peo­ple to the land of Is­rael could not be con­tested.

“Those who don’t un­der­stand this un­der­stand noth­ing!” he de­clared. “The Bi­ble is recog­nised in­ter­na­tion­ally as a cred­i­ble text, and it says time and again that the con­nec­tion of the Jewish peo­ple to Is­rael is one no one can challenge.”

Re­fer­ring to count­less tex­tual ex­am­ples, Tapiero proved the point again and again, stress­ing the sig­nif­i­cance of this con­nec­tion to the Chris­tian faith.

“If you are a Chris­tian, you un­der­stand this con­nec­tion, and need to do some­thing to pro­tect it,” he said.

“Be­cause if the con­nec­tion is con­tested, if the Tem­ple Mount is con­served as not Jewish, the con­nec­tion of Je­sus to the land him­self is be­ing de­nied, and your re­li­gion is be­ing kid­napped.

“His­tory can­not be re­futed with lies. Your gov­ern­ment needs to un­der­stand that if they con­tinue to do so, they are go­ing to lose you and their Jewish con­stituents be­cause they are med­dling with some­thing they don’t ac­tu­ally un­der­stand.”

“The term used to de­scribe the Pales­tinian-Is­raeli con­flict is the ‘Mid­dle East con­flict’,” he said. “Are we nuts? What about Iran, Syria, Su­dan, and oth­ers? Are the con­flicts in which they are in­volved not far worse and more dev­as­tat­ing? Is­rael is try­ing to make peace, and its ef­forts are de­scribed as the ‘Mid­dle East con­flict’? This is ridicu­lous.”

Tapiero said that the real work lay ahead, and that this con­fer­ence was not enough. “If af­ter this con­fer­ence you leave feel­ing some in­spi­ra­tion, you need to go fur­ther! We need and want peace. We need and want to cre­ate a bridge between South Africa and Is­rael. This is what we must tell the gov­ern­ment.”

Of­fer­ing words of a dif­fer­ent kind, Si­van Ya’ari spoke about her in­volve­ment on the African con­ti­nent shar­ing Is­raeli in­no­va­tion with those in need. The Chief Ex­ec­u­tive and founder of In­no­va­tion Africa, Ya’ari was born in Is­rael to un­e­d­u­cated par­ents, and knows some­thing about strug­gling to make ends meet.

At the age of twenty, she went look­ing for a job, and be­cause she spoke French, was of­fered a po­si­tion with Jor­dache Jeans at its Mada­gas­car plant. It was her ex­pe­ri­ence there that made her re­alise the ex­tent of poverty in the South­ern hemi­sphere. “I dis­cov­ered that peo­ple there aren’t able to send their chil­dren to school,” she says, “The chil­dren are too ill and mal­nour­ished to learn. More­over, they have no elec­tric­ity. Nurses could not ad­min­is­ter vac­ci­na­tions be­cause they had no fa­cil­i­tates to store them. “As many as 620 mil­lion peo­ple live with­out elec­tric­ity in sub-Sa­ha­ran Africa. I wanted to help them, but I my­self was un­e­d­u­cated and needed to learn how. I at­tended Columbia Univer­sity, got a Mas­ter ’s de­gree in en­ergy, and dis­cov­ered that a sim­ple so­lu­tion con­sist­ing of two so­lar pan­els can bring much needed en­ergy to an en­tire vil­lage.

“If you look at the sun, you see a source of en­ergy right above you,” she says. “If we har­ness this, we can achieve so much. One hun­dred and fifty vil­lages in Africa have now got elec­tric­ity, and with it, the abil­ity to pump wa­ter. In 1957, Golda Meir vis­ited Ghana. When she saw the chal­lenges the coun­try faced, she of­fered Is­rael’s help de­spite the coun­try be­ing only seven years old. Is­rael al­ways wants to help where it can, and this is what I do.”

Thanks to her en­ergy, in­no­va­tion, and de­ter­mi­na­tion, one mil­lion im­pov­er­ished peo­ple across Africa now have ac­cess to wa­ter and en­ergy. Ya’ari stressed that this was not enough. She plans to reach six mil­lion peo­ple in the coming years. “Our work has been recog­nised by the United Na­tions, and so the con­tri­bu­tion that Is­rael makes and con­tin­ues to make to hu­man­ity can­not be de­nied. I am proud of this.” - this ar­ti­cle first ap­peared in the Jewish Re­port.

“We need and want to cre­ate a bridge between South Africa and Is­rael. This is what we must tell the gov­ern­ment ‘We­need and want peace’

Picture: Moses Moyo

Some of the par­tic­i­pants at the ‘Bring­ing Is­rael to Africa con­fer­ence’

Picture: Supplied

In sol­i­dar­ity with Is­rael

Picture: Supplied

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