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The Jewish Report Editorial

Coming out of the silly season

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As we do our best to get back into the swing of things and drag our brains back kicking and screaming from our relaxing holidays, it is hard to imagine that it’s back to the grindstone. There is something so luxurious about waking up in the morning without any set plans.
by PETA KROST MAUNDER | Jan 17, 2019

Another thing about being on holiday, though, is that we let our guard down to a large degree.

Few of us remain glued to the news, and some even make a point of avoiding anything that is too serious. No wonder they call it the “silly season”.

The thing about this time of year is that devious souls use it to get things done that they don’t want others to notice. What better time?

Also, people so often say and do things that show them for who they really are without their business masks on. Sometimes it might take a little bit of alcoholic lubrication, but not always.

A case in point of using this time to get things done was in December 2017, when the ANC pushed through the decision to downgrade the South African Embassy in Israel. In this case, it used the ANC electoral conference where Cyril Ramaphosa unseated Zuma as its smokescreen.

I recall the vivid picture painted by Zev Krengel, the President of the South African Jewish Board of Deputies, who was the only person in the room opposed to the motion. It was like a soccer match with a rough team playing against a single player whose side had empty goals.

In December 2018, after most of us had let down our guard, BDS South Africa (BDS-SA) posted the ugliest statement I have ever seen on social media. I was astonished that it could be so openly anti-Semitic, using the imagery of Shakespeare’s moneylender, Shylock, from The Merchant of Venice. (See page 4)

Did it do it because it thought nobody would notice? Did it do it because it slipped up and let its guard down? Who can tell? It appears that its true sentiment towards Jewry came through despite frequent denials that it is anti-Semitic.

Suffice to say, even its own supporters were horrified.

And then it removed this post, supposedly expecting that no one would notice, and no harm was done.

Fortunately, some of us were watching and on guard, like the SA Jewish Board of Deputies, which put out a statement immediately.

What is interesting is that I, for one, have often wanted to believe that BDS-SA was a moral organisation that had human rights at its very core. It would mean that as a Jewish community, we only had to have opposing views about Israel. It would then just be a debate or a disagreement, but nothing sordid. We could simply agree to disagree.

But, the reality is that there has never been a time when BDS-SA has seen the humanity in Israelis or others living in Israel. And, clearly it doesn’t think much of the rest of us Jews either. For the organisation, it is about Israel being all bad and the Palestinians being angels, never able to set a foot wrong. There are all forms of anti-Semitism in the world and today, this is recognised globally as “the new anti-Semitism”.

No matter how hard BDS-SA continues to try couch its sentiments by making out that it is fighting for the underdog against an ogre, the truth is out.

In our news section of this paper, there are a number of stories that you may argue are not the most up to date news because they happened in the silly season.

Here is our reasoning for this: when things happen in the quiet time when no one is expected to be watching, we should never ignore it when it has an impact on us. Most of these stories were ignored by the mainstream media, and yet they apply to us directly. For this reason, we bring them to you.

Although we have some tough stories, this edition is mostly one of celebration. It is our “Matric Matters” edition (pages 9 to 24).

What a joy it is to see so many phenomenal young people graduate with distinction into the rest of their lives.

While I truly appreciate the hard work and commitment it takes to get distinctions, I believe there is way too much pressure on our children to achieve them.

I understand the importance they hold for our youth to get into university, but at what cost?

We need to be careful about where we put the emphasis in matric in the knowledge that not everybody is a straight-A kid. There are so many different paths for our youngsters to take, and they don’t all lead to university. Not going to university doesn’t mean they can’t be hugely successful. What is success anyway?

For some, getting seven distinctions is easy, but for others it is impossible. Is that person, for whom it is impossible, any less capable than the one with all those distinctions? Not a chance!

I know we are a community that values education above all else. I subscribe to that wholeheartedly, but education is much broader than distinctions in matric.

Having said that, we congratulate each and every matriculant for getting through the pressure cooker, and wish them the best of luck in launching the rest of their lives. You are our future!

On that note, it is with sadness that we bid farewell to international businessman and philanthropist extraordinaire, Ronnie Lubner, who was by his own admission the poster boy for the view that school years are no predictor of success in life (page 26).

The SA Jewish Report sends condolences to the Lubner family.

We would also like to wish all of you the most successful and joyful 2019.

Shabbat Shalom and Tu B’Shvat Sameach!

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