communal matters exploring the concerns of the south african jewish community
Contrary to recently released statistics, Ricky Stoch suggests that many young Jewish South Africans have a strong sense of belonging to South Africa and are committed to a future in the country.
THERE is nothing quite like a pandemic in London to remind you how good our lives are in South Africa. I moved to London in 2018 to study and now, while starting my business and getting British citizenship, I commute between South Africa and the UK. When I settle down, I hope to do it in South Africa.
A Facebook post (19/07/2019) encouraging the community to take part in the JCSSA.
According to the 2019 Jewish Community Survey of South Africa (JCSSA) most respondents (74%) had either a strong or quite a strong sense of belonging to South Africa. However, the survey noted that “feelings of belonging are weakest among respondents aged 25 and younger.” In a recent DafkaDotCom article (24/02/2021), Deena Katzen alludes to this pattern when she writes, “I believe that many young Jewish South Africans will opt for the opportunity that offers them the best quality of life. For most this is no longer South Africa.”
Like most surveys, the JCSSA is not entirely representative. I was 25 when the survey took place and I found the results surprising as my social circle has a very strong sense of belonging to South Africa. In fact, of those who have left South Africa many hope to return. When I asked my friends about the survey none of them had completed it. In fact, they weren’t even aware that it had taken place.
exploring the concerns of the south african jewish community
In this article, Prof. Karen Milner looks at what the research suggests about antisemitism in South Africa, arguing that the data shows antisemitism to be relatively low.
IN 2019 the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), published a report identifying South Africa as the second most antisemitic country in the world. South Africa was second only to Poland and scored well above France, a country in which Jews fear being publicly identified as Jews and in which two elderly Jewish women were murdered in antisemitic attacks in 2017 and 2018 respectively. The ADL report caused a minor furore in the South African Jewish community, and its findings have been roundly challenged by the organised Jewish community (see here and here) and community members.
"... the ultimate test of levels of antisemitism in a country is the extent to which Jews can live their lives openly and authentically as Jews without being harassed, attacked or discriminated against. Anecdotal evidence suggests that South African Jews can and do live openly Jewish lives".
exploring the concerns of the south african Jewish community
In this article David Saks explores levels of antisemitism in a post-Apartheid South Africa, while looking at comparatives of antisemitism in other countries.
The 2001 UN World Conference Against Racism (WCAR) – or strictly speaking, the NGO/civil society component that preceded the official inter-government meeting – is generally considered to be a pivotal event in the evolution of modern-day antisemitism. In addition to arguably marking the launch of the so-called ‘Durban Strategy’, which aimed at isolating Israel in the international arena by depicting it as a racist, apartheid and colonial state, the event frequently spilled over into more explicit manifestations of anti-Jewish hatred.
"The fact that the WCAR took place in Durban ... has created the perception abroad that South African Jewry has been especially affected by the steep rise in global antisemitism... ".
EXPLORING THE CONCERNS OF THE SOUTH AFRICAN JEWISH COMMUNITY
In this article David Saks argues that the current surge of anti-zionism in South Africa has antisemitic influences.
PERHAPS the most fiendishly difficult question that Jewish rights groups must grapple with today is where the boundary lies between anti-Zionism and antisemitism. A perception has been created by anti-Israel activists that the Jewish community rushes willy-nilly to label as antisemitism that which is in fact legitimate criticism of Israel. This is untrue. Instead there is an acute awareness of the need to make a clear distinction between the two, and so far as the South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) is concerned, the record shows that it has been scrupulously careful in this regard.
This being said, it is inevitable that attacks ostensibly only against Israel sometimes spill-over into hatred against Jews. No-one can reasonably accuse Jews of ‘crying antisemitism’ when they take action in such instances (although many do). And when anti-Israel sentiment takes on so extreme a form as to amount to inflammatory propaganda, it is understandable that the Jewish community should come to the defence of Israel. It is an attack on something that the great majority of Jews around the world passionately identify with.
"What purports simply to be anti-Zionism frequently turns out to be fuelled to a greater or lesser extent by residual anti-Jewish feeling".