exploring the concerns of the south african Jewish community
In this first article in our series of three articles on antisemitism, 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".