Message FROM THE CHAIR By Adrienne Jacobson

February in the Cape usually brings the best of summertime: warm evenings and ocean swims, Valentines and wedding season, and the promise of the year stretching ahead with all its projects and events. 

The new year provides us with a really invaluable opportunity to evaluate, scrutinise and in some areas reassess the work that we do to optimise and utilise our resources efficiently and effectively. 

The political climate since 2023 has seen our community facing wave after wave of hostility, not only from the outpouring of hate and bias in the media, from academics and even in sport, boycotts and protests, but the breakdown of the relationship with the ANC government. 

Cape Town has taken a lot of the heat from protests outside our Gardens Jewish Community Centre where we have been subjected to offensive and threatening statements and hate speech from the protestors, to attacks on Herzlia school and boycotts and further protests outside Jewish-owned businesses. 

Never before has the work of the Board been more important to the community, and our focus is firmly on areas like legal responses, advocacy and combating antisemitism – all aimed at protecting the civil rights of the community. We have hosted countless meetings with legal counsel, government officials both local and national, academia, consulates and embassies, political parties, security officials, communal leadership, National Jewish leadership and of course the media. We have performed many interviews and submitted a variety of statements and articles throughout local and international media. Community engagement and communication is ongoing.

February also brings the preparation for Israel Apartheid week on university campuses, a particularly hard time for our students. Due to the horrific events of October 7th, we are expecting this year to be the most aggressive and problematic particularly at UCT. We are working closely with UCT leadership to understand the current climate and rise in tensions on campus and how we can ensure student safety and wellbeing. There will also be rules of engagement and an enforcement of the UCT codes of conduct to protect the rights of students both on campus and in the social media space. The Board firmly encourages dialogue and discussion, believes in upholding the constitution and everyone’s right to freedom of expression and that students feel that UCT provides a safe platform free from discrimination and hate.

During this difficult time we can take inspiration from Nobel peace prize winner Martin Luther King, who led the struggle against racial discrimination in the 1960s. He advocated the principle of non-violent protest affirming that opposition should be tackled with compassion rather than aggression. We are working as hard as we can together with UCT to shift the tone and the narrative to one of peaceful engagement, of common humanity and dialogue around peace, rather than polarisation.

Together we are doing our best to bring about King’s words: “I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality.” This is why right temporarily defeated is stronger than evil triumphant. We are focusing all our efforts toward an engagement where empathy triumphs over hate, humanity is prioritised, dialogue is respectful, and peace is chosen over anarchy.

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

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

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