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South African Jews Are Not Their Government

Protestors demonstrating in support of Jewish cricketer David Teeger outside the headquarters of Cricket South Africa. Photo: Ilan Ossendryver

It is not an easy time to be a South African Jew. The community of around 50,000 is feeling increasingly isolated by a government that is moving closer to the likes of Iran, China, and Russia, and is expressing a one-sided view of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In fact, South Africa’s leading party, the African National Congress, has led the charge against Israel at the International Court of Justice.

My government rolled out the red carpet and allowed Hamas leaders to visit the country after October 7, and has a warm relationship with Iran. But most of the Jewish community here has always been, and remains, staunchly Zionistic.

Despite this, some South African Jews are experiencing negativity from Israel and its supporters due to the actions of our government.

For this reason, I recently joined a group of South African Jews on a solidarity mission to Israel. My feelings about these missions are mixed. While they are definitely well-intentioned, I wondered if they are also a little self-indulgent. Is it fair to ask a country dealing with its own horror to host people from outside the country? Is it just voyeurism that motivates these missions?

I could not have been more wrong.

This trip was organized by Jewish National Fund of South Africa (JNF), The South African Zionist Federation (SAZF), and Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael (KKL), and had a dual purpose — to show support to Jews and citizens of Israel, but also to send a message that the South African people are not their government. It needed to be understood that literally millions of South Africans stand alongside Israel, a country facing a war that it did not start.

The mission met with members of the media, with government spokesperson Eylon Levy, and with senior officers running the war campaign. We visited three different army bases and did the South African thing of braaing (barbecue) for the soldiers.

But it was the day spent in the Gaza envelope that gave me some of the perspective that I had been lacking about the events of October 7.

That day was not a terror attack. It was a full-scale invasion. It was meticulously planned and executed. Sixty sites were hit simultaneously, including army bases and police stations. In some cases, the kibbutzim were cut off, making it enormously difficult to reach them. Three thousand Hamas operatives descended on a sleepy area, where rifles were locked in the armories. The brutality and scale of the murders at the Nova Musical Festival added to the chaos and the catastrophe.

From the most senior officer to the person in the street, there is widespread recognition that there was a massive systems failure that resulted in this invasion. Person after person recounted to us their experiences of that day, and the horrors that unfolded.

I asked Keith Isaacson, the man who heads security for the Eshkol region, “What can you do to make residents of the South feel secure, so that they will be able and confident to return and to rebuild?” His answer was not one that I was expecting. He said, “Take away the word ‘feel.’ It is not about feeling secure. It is about being secure. The residents felt secure before October 7. It didn’t help them.” And when I asked about what went wrong, his emotions and language expressed a heaviness that I know will never leave him. A responsibility that he will feel forever.

All of this was made more real by a JNF, SAZF, and KKL memorial service for South Africans who lost their lives on October 7, which brought us closer to Israeli suffering. Set in the beautiful JNF memorial forest, we heard from parents who had lost children and from Aviva Siegel, a South African, who along with her husband were taken hostage. He remains a captive of Hamas.

The horror is overwhelming. But so too is the strength, warmth, and resilience of the Israeli people. In many ways, on the surface, the country appears to be getting on with life — but a few seconds into any conversation, it becomes clear that this is a people who are hurting more than they can express.

Still, from what I saw, it would be a mistake to confuse pain with weakness. There is little doubt that the power of the people will ultimately prevail.

Some people in Israel treated us skeptically because we were South African. But our concerns — and theirs — faded instantly when it was understood that we were there to show support and deliver a message of unity.

I came to Israel to show solidarity with the Jewish people there. But I left knowing that supporters of Israel and Jews around the world are connected and bound, no matter where they live, or what their government believes.

Howard Feldman is a South African media personality, author, columnist, and radio talk show host.

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Assault charge laid, arrest made related to incident near the University of Toronto encampment—while its president speaks in Ottawa on antisemitism, and the school seeks a removal injunction

Toronto Police have arrested and charged a man for assault over an incident May 9 near the protest encampment at the University of Toronto’s King’s College Circle on its downtown campus.  Toronto Police Services (TPS) say they responded at 3:45 p.m. that day to a call for assault in the area of the road around […]

The post Assault charge laid, arrest made related to incident near the University of Toronto encampment—while its president speaks in Ottawa on antisemitism, and the school seeks a removal injunction appeared first on The Canadian Jewish News.

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‘Any Chance the Media Would Cover This?’ New Video Shows Terrorists in Gaza Using Humanitarian Aid to Help Prepare Rockets

Terrorists in Gaza using humanitarian aid bags to prop up rockets. Photo: Screenshot

Terrorists in Gaza have been using humanitarian aid bags to prop up rockets they were preparing to shoot at Israelis, new video circulating on social media reveals, underscoring the challenges of delivering aid to Palestinian civilians in the Hamas-ruled enclave without it being stolen.

The Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade — which is the armed wing of Fatah, the political party of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbasused bags from Turkey and UNRWA — the UN agency responsible for the Palestinians — to prop up the rockets, according to the video.

At least three of the bags say they contain “wheat flour,” and the bag from Turkey specifically says it is supposed to go “to the Palestinian people.” It is unclear whether the bags had previously been opened to extract the food and then refilled with sand, for example, or if it still contained the food that was intended to feed Palestinian civilians.

“Any chance the media would cover this, yet another violation of international humanitarian law?” pro-Israel commentator Hen Mazzig wrote on X/Twitter while sharing the video.

Rafah, Gaza: Hamas is using UN humanitarian aid bags as rocket launchers today.

Any chance the media would cover this, yet another, violation of International Humanitarian Law?

— Hen Mazzig (@HenMazzig) May 29, 2024

Almost every day for the past seven months, Hamas and other Gaza-based terrorist organizations have been shooting rockets into Israel from civilian areas, which is a war crime. Tens of thousands of Israelis are internally displaced and unable to return to their homes as a result.

There is mounting evidence that Hamas has also operated in civilian clothing and in civilian infrastructure such as hospitals. However, these violations of international law are rarely noted by much of the media.

The latest video of terrorists using humanitarian aid for military purposes underscores the issue of making sure such aid gets to Palestinian civilians. 

The US built a pier to deliver 2,000,000 meals daily to Palestinian civilians, but after a few weeks of operation, the Pentagon said none of the aid unloaded from the pier had made it to those who needed it. On one occasion, about 70 percent of the aid has been stolen while en route to a UN warehouse. In other cases, it just never showed up.

Israeli estimates suggest approximately 60 percent of the aid that has gone into Gaza has been stolen — either by Hamas or other groups and individuals. Oftentimes, that aid is then sold to the population at high prices, making it difficult to impossible for most Gazans to gain access to it. 

According to Ehud Yaari, an expert at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Hamas has made more than $500 million in profit from selling humanitarian aid since Oct. 7.

The terror group began the war last October by massacring 1,200 people in Israel and taking more than 250 people hostage, about half of whom have still not been released.

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Columbia University Anti-Zionist Group Endorses Hamas

Demonstrators take part in an anti-Israel demonstration at the Columbia University campus, in New York City, US, Feb. 2, 2024. REUTERS/David Dee Delgado

Columbia University’s chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) has endorsed Hamas, a US-designated terrorist organization, the latest sign of its growing extremism and willingness to embrace antisemitic violence.

“The Palestinian resistance is the only force materially fighting back against isr*el [sic],” the group said in a series of posts shared by Documenting Jew Hatred on Campus, a social media account which exposes antisemitism on college campuses. “There is no way to eliminate the resistance without ending the occupation. When you see a video of a young palestinian [sic] boy traumatized in a hospital talking about how iof [the Israel Defense Forces, or IDF] shot his pregnant mother in cold blood in front of his own eyes, do not question how he chooses to resist years later.”

.@Columbia and @BarnardCollege, @ColumbiaSJP is actively promoting terrorism and anti-Israel rhetoric on their social media channels. They are sounding more and more like Hamas spokespeople every day. When is the university going to permanently ban this “student group”?

— Documenting Jew Hatred on Campus (@CampusJewHate) May 26, 2024

Campus Reform, a higher education watchdog which first reported Documenting Jew Hatred on Campus’ posts, noted that Columbia SJP has added an “inverted red triangle” to its social media biography, further indicating its support for Hamas. The Palestinian terrorist group has used an inverted red triangle in its propaganda videos to indicate an Israeli target about to be attacked, and anti-Israel protesters on university campuses have been using the symbol in their demonstrations.

Columbia SJP, a group that has reformed under multiple organizations since being suspended by school administrators during the fall semester, has been central in staging a slew of riotous demonstrations in which anti-Zionist activists verbally assaulted Jewish students with antisemitic epithets, clamorously expressed support for terrorism and Hamas, and caused thousands of dollars in damages to school property.

The group’s behavior after Hamas’ Oct. 7 massacre across southern Israel is the subject of a lawsuit filed by the StandWithUs Center for League Justice (SCLJ).

The complaint alleges that after bullying Jewish students and rubbing their noses in the carnage Hamas wrought on their people, the pro-Hamas students were still unsatisfied and resulted to violence. They beat up five Jewish students in Columbia’s Butler Library, according to the lawsuit. Another attacked a Jewish students with a stick, lacerating his head and breaking his finger, after being asked to return missing persons posters she had stolen.

Following the incidents, pleas for help allegedly went unanswered and administrators told Jewish students they could not guarantee their safety while SJP held its demonstrations. The school’s apparent powerlessness to prevent anti-Jewish violence was cited as the reason why Students Supporting Israel (SSI), a recognized school club, was denied permission to hold an event on self-defense. Events with “buzzwords” such as “Israel” and “Palestine” were forbidden, administrators allegedly said, but SJP continued to host events while no one explained the inconsistency.

The explosion of end-of-year protests held by the group forced Columbia officials to shutter the campus in April and institute virtual learning. Later, the group occupied Hamilton Hall, forcing President Minouche Shafik to call on the New York City Police Department (NYPD) for help, a decision she hesitated to make. According to The Columbia Spectator, over 108 arrests were made.

“Yes, we’re all Hamas, pig!” one protester was filmed screaming during the fracas, which saw some verbal skirmishes between pro-Zionist and anti-Zionist partisans. “Long live Hamas!” said others who filmed themselves dancing and praising the al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of the Hamas terrorist organization. “Kill another solider!”

Amid the chaos, a prominent rabbi at the school urged Jewish students to leave the campus for the sake of their safety. Ultimately, the university cancelled its main commencement ceremony.

Follow Dion J. Pierre @DionJPierre.

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