The landmark vote at the United Nations General Assembly on November 29, where member-states overwhelmingly endorsed an upgrade of Palestine’s status at the UN to that of non-member observer, has caused much discussion and disagreement in the Jewish world and beyond. Whether this event is being used as a shortcut to statehood which undermines a negotiated settlement to the conflict, a largely Israeli take, or an opportunity to breathe new life into the peace process, the view of the Palestinian Authority, remains to be seen.
Africa, which makes up over a quarter of the UN’s membership, gave its overwhelming backing to the resolution. 46 African states voted for it; whilst five abstained (Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Malawi, Rwanda, and Togo) and three (Equatorial Guinea, Liberia and Madagascar) were not present. Analysts, including Pan African scholar Sitinga Kachipande, have noted that this display of support is even more remarkable in light of the significant economic and political ties most of these countries have to the United States.
National Orders are the highest honour that a country can confer on its citizens or eminent foreign nationals. In South Africa, these awards are given to ordinary people who have achieved extraordinary feats and made invaluable contributions to our country’s democracy. Proud of the important involvement of our community in South Africa, the South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) nominated two distinguished individuals for these awards and both were named as recipients of National Orders for 2012 –Professor Barry Schoub and Captain Selwyn Levin.
In Africa, natural resources have always been both a blessing and a devastating curse. For hundreds of years, Europeans were colonizing African land and making profits from its wealth, as well as forcing indigenous populations into slavery. The second half of the twentieth century raised the hope that after reaching independence, the situation of African countries would change for the better. However, it wasn’t about to happen, not at all.
Nowadays Africa is mostly governed by dictatorships. African people cannot fully benefit from their goods just for themselves. Africa has many opportunities in the economic field to join the leading and outstanding world powers. Despite the wide range of natural resources, Africa’s most important resource is their youth, who want to work and explore the continent. However, children usually do not have the chance to grow up in loving and caring families that could shape them into the strong minded society. Instead of books they too often are given guns. One of the most horrific examples, not the single one though, is the Lord’s Resistance Army – the rebel group of Joseph Kony that since 1987 “stole” around 30,000 children. Young boys are trained to kill in cold blood and turn girls into sexual slaves.
Following our ACCESS 20/20 Conference last May, one of the global Israel activists who had gathered in Washington, DC, asked a critical but resonant question: Is ending the delegimitization of Israel what we are working for? Is that our whole goal?
The question comes back to me often when I speak to some of the best and brightest young American Jews about their overwhelming hesitancy to engage with Israel-related political issues, even as those very issues are pushed to the center of global political debate. I’ve come to believe that it holds one of the keys for understanding the trend of alienation from Israel, which has been documented in manifold studies and living room conversations – a concern that must be heard and addressed by our Jewish leaders and role models.