An atmosphere of joy marked the rally in support of the state of Israel held in Cape Town on Sunday (August 10, 2014) afternoon at the Albow Centre. It was an unusual winter day; perfect blue sky with a warm breeze bringing out about 5 000 people amongst whom was a huge Christian turnout. It was jam packed, with hundreds of people remaining outside.
The speakers were MC’d by Chairman of the South African Union of Jewish Students (SAUJS), Luigi Bonfig, who’s youthful exuberance set the tone.
To much applause, Daniel Levitt of the SA Zionist Federation (SAZF) Cape Council, announced that the SAZF is implementing a new “BDS” campaign: encouraging the Buying, Supporting and Developing of Israeli products.
Chief Rabbi Warren Goldstein echoed the thoughts of many saying we are living in an upside down world, an “Olam Hafuch” where people are not siding with the only democracy in the Middle East but siding instead with terrorism. It was deeply stirring to hear him express distress at the loss of Palestinian lives stressing that every life is of value. Jewish people too are mourning the loss of their soldiers in this the Third Gaza War.
IDF goes extra mile to spare civilians
The Israeli Defence Force (IDF) goes the extra mile not to wound or kill Palestinian or any other civilian; what other nation drops thousands of leaflets telling the enemy of their impending attack and warning civilians to leave the area? Putting the blame for their deaths squarely on Hamas that urges civilians not to flee, Rabbi Goldstein pointed out that they are a terrorist organisation just the same as Boko Haram, Al Shabaab and ISIS. Encouraging people not to be intimidated, he recalled the closing exhortation of Leviticus; “Hazak, hazak, v’nit ‘ chazek!” “Be strong, be strong, and let us be strengthened!”
The Chief Rabbi of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis was also in attendance and described growing up in Cape Town and attending Herzlia School, which instilled a strong love of Israel in him. Rabbi Mirvis described how anti-Semitism in Europe is currently at its highest since the Second World War. He saluted South African Jewry saying they serve as a model to world Jewry in challenging times.
Jewish contribution to SA struggle
The Director of the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem, (ICEJ) Luba Mayekiso, pointed out the Jewish contribution to the struggle in South Africa: “Sixty per cent of the Treason Trial accused were Jewish people,” he said: “All those classified white at the Rivonia Trial were Jews.” He added that Christians cannot be bystanders, and quoting Martin Luther King he said “It is easy to stand in the warmth of summer, but will we stand in the chill of winter?”
Saying the city of Jerusalem will remain undivided, he said God’s word is not like poetry, it does not have to be politically correct, and declared: “If God can break His covenant with the Jews, he can break it with me – that is not my God.”
There were addresses of encouragement by David Breakstone of the World Zionist Organisation and Zev Krengel of the National Zionist Federation. Gary Eisenberg of the SA Jewish Board of Deputies stressed the Israeli aspiration to live in peace with its neighbours, and Chris Eden of Bridges for Peace declared that God is the greatest Zionist having written in His Word ” I am zealous for Zion with great zeal.” Rev Barry Isaacs expressed his exasperation at the lack of comment by the world’s Christian leaders over the horror of the slaughter of Christians in Middle East, yet they have a lot to say on Israel — and he reminded the congregation that “salvation comes from the Jews”.
The crowd were encouraged that they were “representing millions; making it known that Israel lives and endures in the hearts and minds of all South Africans”.
There were also musical interludes from the “Eagles Rising” choir, the Green and Sea Point Hebrew Congregation Choir and Choni G that added to the atmosphere and the rally ended with renditions of Nkosi Sikeleli Africa and the Israeli Ha Tikva.
Two different sets of pro-Palestine protesters were arrested while the rally was underway but there was no awareness of disruption. Security was very tight with gratitude expressed to the SAPS and the Cape Metro as well as the South African government for protecting the crowds.