The Jewish community of South Africa has played a pivotal role in the unfolding history of our country. From pioneering the establishment of cities and founding industries to playing leadership roles in the anti-Apartheid struggle, Jewish South Africans have made great contributions. Even today, many Jews are passionately committed to making a difference in the lives of their fellow South Africans. No matter what part of the globe they may currently call home, a key group of Jewish South Africans work to ensure that the dream of a better future for all is realized.
Protection Challenges: The Role of Faith-Based Organizations and Communities
Even as you read this article, the crisis in Syria is worsening and the estimated 600,000 people who have fled their homes since the outbreak of the civil war there face another day of struggling to survive. They are just some of the millions who have been displaced in conflicts the world over. Ethnic tensions and inequitable access to land have also led to renewed violence in the east and north-east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, resulting in the internal displacement of over 2.2 million people. The UNHCR estimates that almost 70,000 people have fled into neighbouring Rwanda and Uganda.
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.
“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world” Nelson Mandela.
These wise words from a South African icon are the inspiration behind the extraordinary Moshal Scholarship Program. Founded in 2009 by Durban-born internet entrepreneur and venture capitalist Martin Moshal, the program aims to provide financial support to promising young students who would otherwise not have access to tertiary education. Believing that higher education builds bridges from impoverishment to economic freedom, the Moshal Scholarship Program provides students with access to university and thereby endeavours to break the cycle of poverty. By opening the doors to a better life the lives of the students, their families and communities are also uplifted. The Moshal Scholarship Program already supports over 250 students with full scholarships at top universities across South Africa and Israel, with the first cohort of students graduating at the end of this year.
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.
Stretching back into history from the moment Moses raised his hand against the oppressive Egyptian overseer and led his people from slavery into freedom; to the instant that Abraham smashed the morally bankrupt idols of his day and opened his home to the stranger; through the modern revolutionary ideas of Marx and Freud and beyond, Jewish radicalism has emerged as a profoundly powerful force that has weaved itself through the epochs. By drawing on the great humanist and cosmopolitan notions of identity and justice within Judaism, a radical Jewish ideology and worldview has formed a tradition within a tradition. Profoundly motivated by the historical memory of the suffering of their own people throughout the ages, Jewish radicals have eternally sought to overturn the corrupt status quo of the day and transform humankind’s structures of thought.
“Power to the people
Power to the people
Power to the people, right on
Say you want a revolution
We better get on right away
Well you get on your feet
And out on the street
Singing power to the people”
With waves of revolution convulsing across the Middle East and North Africa, a new era of democracy seems to be dawning. Oppressed peoples living under the heel of various despots are courageously standing up against the machinations of dictatorship and demanding their long withheld human rights.
Lawfare - the use of the law as a weapon of war. It is described as a way in which people manipulate legal and judicial systems and human rights laws to achieve their strategic ends for purposes other than those they were originally enacted for.
In practical terms, lawfare is employed to prevent political and other leaders or officials of a state from traveling abroad through engineering legal threats against them that, in most cases, have no reasonable basis.
As identified by The Lawfare Project, Lawfare has three main goals: "To silence and punish free speech about issues of national security and public concern, to delegitimize the sovereignty of democratic states, and to frustrate and hinder the ability of democracies to fight against and defeat terrorism". These goals threaten modern liberal democracies by turning the values and ethics of democracy, its rules and regulations, into tools with which to harm and destroy it. Where they cannot win and build sympathy with violence, many groups today attempt to undermine their opponents through legal means.