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SA Jewry strongly against xenophobia

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The scourge of xenophobia that has hit the country like a tsunami and has left South Africans shell-shocked and shaking their heads in disbelief, has not left the Jewish community untouched. It would have been so easy to justify a ‘silence’ on the issue by maintaining that “it is not really our problem; Government must sort it out”.
by OWN CORRESPONDENT | Apr 22, 2015

While some academics and even Government ministers are bogged down in semantics as to whether this is in fact xenophobia, or Afrophobia, foreigners are being killed or hounded by mobs baying for blood; they are seeing their small shops looted and destroyed, and many are seeking protection at police stations, with nothing but the clothes on their backs.

Last weekend, Wendy Kahn, national director of the Board, accompanied a convoy of vehicles heavily laden with supplies and relief for the victims of the xenophobia.

HaZikaron15 HOME“Food, baby supplies, hygiene products, blankets and many other donations from members of our community were taken to the Methodist Churches that are providing shelter for those affected by these dreadful attacks,” she said.

“We were able to engage with those organising the shelters in Primrose and Elsburg (at Germiston on the East Rand). At this point there seem to be sufficient supplies but we... will continue to monitor the situation and assess specific needs. As we learned in 2008 (when xenophobia also tore the country apart), it is essential to work closely with the authorities at the shelters to ensure that we provide what is truly needed.”

KwaZulu-Natal has been the focal point of xenophobic attacks - in Durban itself as well as at Isipingo on the South Coast - with many of the attackers justifying their actions on a contentious remark made by Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini recently, that foreigners “should pack up and leave the country”. He has vehemently denied the accusation, maintaining that he had been misreported. He spoke in Zulu and maintained that he was talking about “illegal foreigners”. To calm down the situation, he called an imbizo for Monday at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban, to appeal to Zulus to refrain from these attacks.

Many, however, see it as “too little too late”.

These attacks have made - and are still making - headlines in the world media, with pressure mounting on the Government to do more to combat it. President Jacob Zuma has - albeit belatedly - appealed on TV for calm and has condemned the attacks. He cancelled on overseas state visit to deal with the crisis.

In other African countries, especially those neighbouring South Africa or close by, there has already been a backlash in the form of attacks against South African trucks and businesses.

HaZikaron15aMany of these countries have wryly remarked that during the “Struggle years” when the ANC in exile fought the apartheid government, those countries whose nationals were now being hounded out, had generously provided safe havens for ANC exiles or cadres.

In the meantime, the Council of KwaZulu-Natal Jewry (CKNJ), an affiliate of the SAJBD, has also expressed its "horror and outrage" at the "brutal treatment" of foreign nationals.

In a media release, the CKNJ said: "The outpouring of this type of hatred has no place in our country."

The CKNJ has been supplying emergency relief and has asked people to drop off goods at the Durban Jewish Centre. The most urgent goods needed are: clothing; blankets; breakfast cereals; Pampers nappies; baby food; soap; and toothpaste.

Donations for goods can be made to: CKNJ, Standard Bank - Kingsmead, branch code 040026, account number 051438801, ref: your name/ xenophobia. E-mail [email protected]<mailto:[email protected]>."

Members of the Cape Town Jewish community were asked to join a silent vigil on the outside stairs of the St George’s Cathedral on Tuesday. While in Johannesburg, a march is being held on Thursday starting from Pieter Roos Park on the border of Parktown and Berea, ending at Mary Fitzgerald Square in downtown Johannesburg at 13h00.


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