One of the Israel Centre’s slogans is “Bringing you to Israel and Israel to you”. We mean every word, even if you happen to live far away…
To this end once a year the Israel Centre goes on a road trip in order to reach out to some of the smaller Jewish communities in the country. The goal is to strengthen their connection with Israel through direct contact with the Israeli Shlichim.
This year five Israeli Shlichim drove 2,500 kilometres to meet the communities in: Oudtshoorn, Plettenberg Bay, Port Elizabeth and East London. In each town and city we had an evening event in the form of a news bulletin reporting about Israel from different perspectives such as BDS and the Israeli economy, Israel as the “Start-up Nation “ and the latest innovations, Israeli relief missions, the potential of Israeli knowledge to address some of South Africa’s core challenges, and also programmes and opportunities in Israel.
Even though it was cold and rainy, the weather a typical South African coastal winter, the events where well attended and the spirit was warm enough to compensate for the weather outside. Over and above the Jewish communities, the Israel Centre was joined by some of our Christian Zionist friends.
The feedback was very positive and the general atmosphere reflected that more needs to be done in terms of Israel Advocacy and helping to equip community members to be better advocates for Israel. In many places the feeling is that the Israeli side of the story isn’t being heard and people asked what can be done. We offered some solutions and we also examined the option that next year we will extend the Zionist Caravan to meet even more people and institutions in addition to the successful evening events which will continue to take place. The South African media is not improving in providing unbiased news coverage of Israel which makes the situation in the smaller communities, who do not have the resources to form their own Media Teams or Advocacy Groups, even more challenging. This is not only a concern for these communities but for the South African Jewish community as a whole. The Israel Centre offers assistance in terms of conference calls, Israeli programmes and participation for young people in the Youth Movement summer camps, and in the future hope to assist these smaller communities with further resources.
For this incredible opportunity we would like to thank the wonderful people we met along the way, and are immensely grateful for their warmth and kind hospitality, and for their love of Israel.
Am Yisrael Chai