There was much that South Africa could learn from its Jewish community, particularly its notion of community, said Cyril Ramaphosa, newly-elected vice president of the ANC, the country’s ruling party.
Mr Ramaphosa was speaking at an event organised by Chief Rabbi Warren Goldstein to discuss challenges facing the nation.
Stating that a community was defined by “an essential and over-riding concern with the interest, progress and well-being of all its members”, Mr Ramaphosa said: “This I’ve found to be very prevalent in the Jewish community.”
Addressing Mr Ramaphosa frankly on the Israel-Palestine question, Rabbi Goldstein spoke of the community’s “deep connection” to the Jewish state and the perception that the government was biased against it. “What we expect from our government is balance and a sense of proportionality.
“What we don’t expect from our government is to take sides or that Israel is singled out the way it has been,” he said to applause.
“I’ve always said that what is required is a deep dialogue between representatives of government and the leadership of the Jewish people in this country,” contended Mr Ramaphosa, expressing the need to “find balance” — a sentiment praised by the chief rabbi as “a breath of fresh air”.
“I know it’s almost an intractable problem, but it needs cool heads on all sides,” the ANC leader added.
Rabbi Goldstein proposed a “rekindling of the spirit of the Struggle” and a philosophy of governing based on service as opposed to power and “accumulating wealth”. He advocated the return of specialised crime-fighting units that had been disbanded.