POPCRU against the SAZF

Ben Levitas responds to the union’s attack on him over the Clover matter

POPCRU’S charges against me and the SA Zionist Federation (SAZF) reveal its ignorance of what I and the organisation stand for. The SA Zionist Federation has never supported Apartheid, as it has no role to play in local politics. It is politically neutral and is solely involved with community matters. In fact, during the 70’s and 80’s it facilitated my departure from South Africa in order to avoid serving in the Apartheid military.

Similarly, it played a huge role in assisting many members of the Jewish community, who were resolute in their opposition to Apartheid, to emigrate to Israel in order to avoid summary arrest and 180 days in detention without trial. The organisation’s mandate is focused on the interrelationship between South Africa and Israel and to maintain and strengthen the passion for Zionism that characterises the South African Jewish community.

The reasons for this Zionist passion are multiple and complex, but essentially stem from the fact that Jews arrived here as refugees; to escape persecution, pogroms, life time military service and boycotts of their businesses and exclusion from academic institutions and professions. Shortly after their arrival in South Africa, the pro-Hitler “Greyshirts” threatened to expel Jews and limit their immigration. Jews needed to keep their heads down below the parapets, in order to avoid further victimisation. Those who could not remain silent either emigrated, mostly with the assistance of the SAZF when they emigrated to Israel, or became exiled to join the ANC. Zionism is simply the national liberation movement for Jews to have their own state, a right that every other ethnicity takes for granted. Zionism and Judaism are inextricably bound together, with references to Zion (Jerusalem) replete in our daily prayers.

Personally, at the end of the 70’s when I returned to South Africa I founded a multi-racial school which offered a first rate education to children from all race groups. I wrote textbooks during the Apartheid era, about the cultures of the peoples of South Africa, which defied the official Apartheid policies, and which taught that the concept of “Race” was an artificial construct that in fact did not exist. I subsequently founded various industrial enterprises, where over time I employed thousands of people and even during the terrible 80’s promoted black South Africans to the highest positions

I worked to supply food, clothing and housing in the Cape Town slum of Crossroads to assist communities caught up in the vigilante disruptions caused by the “Witdoeke” supported by the Apartheid reactionary forces.

The United Nations, with 56 Muslim majority states, is hardly a yardstick by which to judge Israel. These states boycotted Israel before it even came into existence and their obsession with Israel has resulted in more resolutions being passed against Israel in the Human Rights Council than all the countries of the world combined. In this sense the UN is nothing more than a bully and ‘a tyranny of the majority”. Resolutions have been passed which disavow the Jewish connection to Jerusalem, in defiance of the Old and New Testaments and archaeological evidence. The UN is nothing more than fake news.

I moreover dispute your allegation that visitors to Israel vouch that it is an Apartheid State. I refer to the Reverend Kenneth Meshoe, leader of the African Christian Democratic Party, who fought against Apartheid his whole life, who has travelled to Israel frequently and has emphatically denied that Israel has any similarity with Apartheid South Africa.

In every progressive indicator Israel is a leader; it has more companies on the Nasdaq than any other European country, it leads the world in the innovation index and in research and development, its population is in the top 10 healthiest, it has more Nobel prize winners pro-rata than any other country etc. It leads the world in agricultural technology, in cyber warfare technology and in water technology. It is futile to deny these truths. Israel is likely to be the 4th country, after the USA, Russia and China to put a spacecraft on the moon.

It is simply pathetic to quote from the Haaretz newspaper that is super critical of Israel to prove a point. The relevant point is that unlike all Arab and most African countries, Israel has a vibrant free press which encourages vigorous debate and critique. To further argue that because most start-ups fail, Israel claim to be a Start-up nation is false, is simply obtuse. Yes, it is true that most start-ups fail, but it is equally true that Israeli start-ups attract direct foreign investments way out of proportion to any other nation. All Bric members, enjoy excellent relations with Israel and all are benefitting from these relations.

Brazil’s new leader Jair Bolsonaro’s first overseas trip is to Israel. Prime Minister Modi of India visited Israel early after being elected and is planning another visit. Russia’s Putin has visited Israel and is planning another trip to commemorate the siege of Leningrad. Israel has growing diplomatic relations with most African countries, and all are benefitting from these ties. South Africa, as has become customary during the past “lost decade”, is swimming against the tide, because of its regressive policies, fostered by the likes of POPCRU. POPCRU seems to be more interested in the well-being of Palestinians, that enjoy a quality of life far better than most South Africans, with an average Gross National Product six times that of South Africa. Regarding the Clover investment, it presents an opportunity for Clover and South Africa to benefit from new investment and technology. Failure to do so, will merely lead to another dairy following in the footstep of Dairy Belle, which is now extinct!

Ben Levitas