Using dialogue to overcome distortion

By Tzvi Brivik, Chairperson, Cape SAJBD

Look up Israel Awareness Week and you will find instead Israel Apartheid Week.

It is described as a series of university lectures held on campuses around the world, aimed at educating people about the nature of Israel, spearheaded by the Boycott Divestment and Sanction (BDS) campaign. What it has become, as described by the Ontario Provincial Legislature, is “odious, hateful and inappropriate.”

Students at universities, both Jewish and non-Jewish across South Africa are subjected to propaganda, hypocrisy, and distortion of facts. We are proud of our student body represented by the various campus organisations, and the peaceful manner in which they have met and withstood this barrage of hatred. As the Cape SAJBD, we had appealed to the universities to consider — not for the first time — moving all events away from the main centres of the universities so as not to disrupt academic life. These events leave students feeling physically and emotionally vulnerable and it is for us, through dialogue with universities, to protect students from this.

Tertiary institutions in Cape Town offer an exemplary education, both the University of Cape Town and Stellenbosch University consistently rank in the top 500 universities in the world. UCT in particular has had close ties to our community, having educated many generations of Capetonian Jews, and with its alumni organisation headed by a member of our community. Various communal organisations regularly interact and support the university through programmes aimed at upliftment, support, and continued education. We are committed to retaining this relationship through regular meetings, so that we may effectively support the students and ensure that the next generation of Jewish leaders in business, in politics, in our community and within non-governmental organisations are educated here at home and in these fine institutions.

We have seen a change to our Board over the last two weeks with Rebbitzin Ann Harris, who was elected to the Board in our previous election in 2020, making aliyah at the insistence of her family. We wish her all the luck in her new ventures. Ann has brought her unique perspective to the Board with her years of campaigning for social justice through various organisations including Africa Tikkun, of which she is a founding member. She has a deep knowledge of South Africa — both its religious and political terrain, which has proved invaluable. Ann chaired our Interfaith & Inter community subcommittee where her deep ties with leaders of our own and other religions ensured open communication lines and that our webinars, which she was instrumental in arranging, were well-attended. Ann also sat on our Country Communities sub-committee in which she had great interest, she had also held the position of Vice-Chairperson of the African Jewish Union and the South African Small Country Communities organisation.

As we return to a normalised environment we continue to engage, educate and empower. We are following on from our very successful Know Your Rights campaign, which was aimed at school-leavers, with a campaign to educate Jewish employees in the workplace on the definition of antisemitism, how to recognise it and who to report it to.

In addition, we have initiated a project to spread the word about the most incredible community and city in which we live! So watch this space.

Cape SA Jewish Board of Deputies website:, Instagram, and Facebook page.

• Published in the PDF edition of the March 2022 issue – Click here to get it.

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