The SAZF (Cape Council) hosted their biennial conference over the weekend of the 9th and 10th of August 2014.
Over 300 guests attended the Gala opening on the evening of the 9th and the I.A hall was packed to capacity. Mr. Ben Levitas, outgoing Cape Council Chairman, initiated proceedings with an impassioned opening address. He was followed by a number of guest speakers such as Mr. Michael Freeman, Deputy Chief of Mission of the Israeli Embassy in South Africa, and Mr. David Breakstone, Vice Chairman of World Zionist Organization. Guests were then treated to an outstanding lecture by the keynote speaker Prof. Robert Wistrich, who holds the Neuberger chair for Modern European History at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. His topic was ‘Anti-Zionism and the new “Jewish question” in the 21st century’.
The evening also provided the SAZF the opportunity to present two awards; the Jerusalem Award, which is an award for the outstanding support of Israel by a person outside the Jewish community and the Buchman award which is an annual award given to a young and passionate Zionist community member. This year the Jerusalem award went to Rev. Kenneth Meshoe, leader of the ACDP and the Buchamn award went to Luigi Bonfig, Chairman SAUJS Cape Region.
The Sunday session of the conference consisted of three panel discussions, each bringing fresh ideas and plenty of food for thought. The three topics under discussion included: ‘Israel’s solutions to today’s challenges’, ‘Anti-zionism – is it antisemitism in disguise?’ and ‘SA relations with Israel…moving forward’. Each panel involved intense deliberations and created a wonderful forum for engagement and dialogue around very relevant and topical issues.
On Sunday the delegates also voted in a new council. The newly elected council are Daniel Levitt, Esta Levitas, Tamar Lazarus, Rodney Mazinter, Tessa Scher, Jacki Sachar, Luigi Bonfig, Rowan Polovin, Nilly Baruch, Shelley Friedman, David Abel, Rabbi Sam Thurgood & Adrienne Judes. Election of the new Chairmanand executive comitte will take place on Thursday 14th August.
The Conference was undoubtedly a huge success. The thought provoking insights that the speakers shared during the plenary sessions had a significant impact on many and was an enormous boost for Zionism in South Africa. It also reinforced the significant contribution that the SAZF has made to the Cape Town Jewish community. After the highly successful conference the people exited to a sea of 5000 Israeli & Zionist supporters who had rallied around in solidarity in Israel’s right to exist and to defend itself.