Op-eds

Don’t relax your guard

  • AboveBoardShaunZagnoev (3)
As much as the country’s move to level-three lockdown is to be welcomed, it’s critical to understand that returning to work doesn’t mean going back to normal. It has to be accepted, unfortunately, that “normal” as we understood it pre-COVID-19 won’t be restored for a long while. For the foreseeable future, we must continually adapt our behaviour to minimise risk to ourselves and those around us. As always, our day-to-day behaviour should be governed by what the medical experts recommend, and I once again refer you to our COVID-19 Jewish Community Platform to obtain regular, up-to-date medical advice.
by SHAUN ZAGNOEV | Jun 04, 2020

One very welcome return to relative normalcy that occurred earlier this week was the repatriation from Israel of 24 South African citizens. As recounted in last week’s column, the board was intrinsically involved in the lengthy and complex process to make this possible, and we were delighted finally to be able to welcome back Sunday’s repatriation flight.

We sincerely thank the department of international relations and cooperation, the National Joint Operational and Intelligence Structure, and the South African Embassy in Israel for all their assistance, and Ethiopian Airlines for bringing the group home. I’m further happy to report that the Cape Town couple who we assisted to travel to Israel on compassionate grounds have since arrived at their destination, and are together with their family at this time of great need.

Beyond the COVID-19 threat, there is a need to remain vigilant against a possible backlash against our own community. As was all but inevitable, it wasn’t long before the pandemic began spawning all kinds of crass antisemitic conspiracy theories the world over. The Board has kept a careful eye on local developments, and can report that in South Africa at least, such ideas fortunately haven’t gained major traction.

That being said, we have been called upon to address a number of attacks motivated by antisemitism that have come to our attention over the past couple of weeks. One is the matter of a Pretoria woman who recently posted a series of blatantly antisemitic messages on her Instagram page. As reported elsewhere in this issue, the Board last week laid a criminal charge against the perpetrator, who far from expressing remorse for her actions, has insisted on her right to continue propagating “the truth” as she sees it. As our media release on the matter pointed out, racist and inflammatory rhetoric of this nature isn’t only criminal, but dangerous, and has to be confronted as strongly as possible, particularly at a time when so many people are already feeling anxious, angry, and frustrated.

  • Listen to Charisse Zeifert on Jewish Board Talk, 101.9 ChaiFM, every Friday from 12:00 to 13:00.

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