The Jewish Report Editorial

Take terrorism seriously

  • Peta editorial pic 2020
Our focus this week has been on the nail-biting United States election and terrorism in Europe – two events totally out of our environment and control – or so it would seem.
by PETA KROST MAUNDER | Nov 05, 2020

The terrorism that hit France and Austria struck fear in the hearts of Jews in Europe. In Vienna, Jews were warned to stay home – and it had nothing to do with COVID-19. If they went out, they were told to leave their kippot at home.

These attacks have been brutal. They weren’t necessarily well planned or orchestrated, but the attackers were out to kill as many as they could. They appeared to be “lone wolves”. In other words, they didn’t seem to be part of a planned organisational attack, as in the case of 9/11 for example, but a person or group who just went out to kill.

They succeeded in their mission of terrifying people who live in those countries. And it’s not clear whether these attacks are over or just beginning.

What is clear is that the perpetrators are Muslim fundamentalists. I make the point about fundamentalism because most Muslims are like you and me and hate terrorism and any association with it. Local Muslim authorities have been vocal in their condemnation of ISIS (Islamic State) and other international terrorist groups, and certainly don’t align themselves to such violence.

But much like the crazies who become right-wing antisemites and hate for hate’s sake, these lone wolf fundamentalists are extremely dangerous because they will stop at nothing to achieve their goal. And they are willing to give up their lives in the process.

As Jevon Greenblatt of the Community Security Organisation (CSO) says, there is nothing to stop such people perpetrating terror right here in South Africa. Having said that, we are fortunate to have the CSO, which has been expertly watching our backs for a long time, and will continue to do so.

While we haven’t had any overt terror attacks in South Africa, the CSO has been on alert for years just in case.

Here’s the thing that concerns me. I notice that the leadership of many countries around the world came out in support of the French and Austrians following these attacks. Even the Americans did so, in spite of being in the throes of an election.

Other leaders, whose countries are in hard lockdown, sent messages on Zoom and any way they could. Some, like England, went on high alert against terrorism. However, I searched for a message or statement from the South African government, but couldn't find any.

Perhaps our government is too busy. Perhaps it doesn’t think these attacks warranted commiseration or a message of concern. Perhaps it doesn’t believe terrorism is as bad as we make it out to be. I wonder…

If the attacks were perpetrated by Israelis, the government would most likely have had something to say though.

Okay, that’s my jibe, but I genuinely believe that the South African government needs to take international terrorism more seriously – or at least look like it’s doing so.

All the terrorism experts in South Africa say we’re one step away from people perpetrating terrorism right here but it hasn’t happened yet. But what’s being done to ensure that it doesn’t happen? What’s being done to ensure that potential terrorist cells are eradicated?

Is there any evidence to show that something is being done to ensure that we won’t ever have a terrorist attack here? At one point, there was an indication that South Africa would help Mozambique in fighting the ISIS-related terror groups in Cabo Delgado province. However, so far, there has been no news about South African forces trying to stop the terrorists and make sure they don’t penetrate our borders. In fact, there are indications that a few South Africans have gone over to Mozambique and are fighting alongside the terrorists.

Surely, it’s time for our government to wake up to this problem? Are we reaching out to terrorist experts in our country and around the world to be able to stem this potential crisis before it becomes a problem? I see no evidence of it.

It’s concerning watching terrorism unfold elsewhere and not being able to be safe in the knowledge that we are safe.

As for the week’s other massive focus, the US election, it was a frustrating time. It’s never easy as a newspaper that prides itself of being on top of the news not to be able to deliver up-to-the-moment news for you. In this case, we go to print on Wednesdays at 18:00, and we have no wiggle room. If we miss our deadline, we can’t get our newspaper into the retail outlets and into your hands on Thursday. While I know many pick up the paper only on Friday, it’s available for most around lunchtime on a Thursday.

Unfortunately, we didn’t know who won the election in time to run a story on that before going to print. We did bring you a story which gave a sense of what South African expats had experienced when voting. (Page 4). So, forgive us. We did and always will do our best for you. I do hope the best man won!

Also, as the Shabbos Project descends on our community this weekend, it’s wonderful to see that there are more than 1 600 cities and 106 countries that will be keeping Shabbat with us. (Page 10.)

The theme of this year’s Shabbos Project of bringing Shabbat home really makes sense to me.

For many years, my family would join my extended family for Shabbat dinners most weeks, but this year due to lockdown, I have learnt to do it myself for my family. It has been very precious!

So, I wish you all a very special and safe Shabbat shalom this week!


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