Lost in translation?

Connect, Collaborate, Community By Daniel Bloch, Executive Director, Cape SAJBD

Not for the first time I am seeing things being lost in translation, or comments taken the wrong way, or people being completely misinterpreted. A few weeks ago, I did an interview with an international online publication that not only got my organisation’s name and my title incorrect, but also misquoted what I said. Then the excuse boiled down to Google Translate and differing languages. I also made a joke on a social WhatsApp group and I think some of my friends didn’t find it funny. (But, don’t worry, they are still my friends.)

One of the most notable ‘lost in translation’ pieces of communication of late, is the recent ‘ICJ victory by South Africa’. Now I am no lawyer, neither am I a professor of anything, however I am fairly intelligent and have a basic understanding of English. Where in the ICJ ruling did the Court award a victory to South Africa? In fact, most view this as an embarrassing loss for our country as the ICJ did not call for a ceasefire or an end to military activities, nor did they find Israel guilty of genocide. I suppose our government needs to take every little win it can, as it hasn’t been the easiest time for them of late.

All of this misinformation and miscommunication reaffirms in my mind how important it is to communicate with everyone on a consistent basis and get the messaging right! Particularly within our own community. We have spoken about this time and time again; however it needs to be repeated on a regular basis. The sharing of fake information is a problem. People love going onto social media and sharing fake news (unintentionally most of the time) or commenting on fake news – and then landing up in hot water. 

My advice to everyone is not to comment unless you are 110% certain of the facts. I know we all want to be the first person to share the Koch, however there are no prizes involved. At the Board we have a saying, “Weigh up the risk of losing vs the reward for winning”. In this instance, sharing the wrong information or providing a comment on something which is untrue can land you in a world of problems and dig a hole so deep that not even Spiderman would be able to swing his way out of it.

Lost in translation also applies to stereotyping of people. There is a small group of individuals within our community who passionately protest against Israel, wave Hamas flags and stand in solidarity with their brothers-in-arms (not their Jewish brothers). Now, whilst several of these activists have fallen for the BDS lies, there are others in our community who are conflicted. They support the peace process and a ceasefire, however they very much believe in Israel’s right to exist. Yet they have attended some of these ‘Shabbos’ functions to understand more about the organisation. Unfortunately the individuals have inadvertently been caught ‘socialising’ when in fact they are not part of this other organisation and do not share in their ideologies. We cannot lambaste them and take them to task without engaging with them first to understand where their minds are at.

Over the past few months, I have engaged with some of these individuals and their parents trying to understand their thinking, and I encourage any member of the community who is feeling conflicted to reach out to the Board. We are happy to engage in dialogue and find some common ground. We are one Jewish community and, as long as we remain steadfast, resilient and united, there is no obstacle we cannot overcome.

Executive Director of the Cape SAJBD, Daniel Bloch, spoke on Chai FM about why we as a community should stay in Cape Town whilst still remaining vigilant in the current environment. Click here to access it.

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

• Published in the March 2024 issue – Click here to start reading.

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