Tragically, many Australian Jews take comfort from this same delusion, almost enjoying imagining it’s 1933. All the time.
This piece from a South African newspaper highlights the dilemma and hopes for a much better future:
Of all the studies conducted on the position of the Jewish establishment during apartheid, perhaps the most authoritative has been Gideon Shimoni’s Community and Conscience: The Jews in Apartheid South Africa. Published in 2003, the text argues that while individual Jews protested the laws of the National Party regime in numbers disproportionate to the relative size of the community—Jews, after all, never made up more than 4% of the white minority—the semi-official leadership tacitly accepted the policies of race-based discrimination.
There are some Jews in South Africa who, while fully supporting the principles on which the Jewish state was formed, do not support the Netanyahu administration “right or wrong”. Unfortunately, this is not a minority that is growing nearly as fast as the Beinart faction in America, and most evidence would suggest it is not growing at all. Young South African Jews appear either to be turning to religion (where old ways of thinking predominate), are failing to respond to the Israel question with an updated set of facts (for instance, the fact that the Netanyahu administration is once again offering Israelis incentives for settling in the territories), or are abandoning the debate altogether.
So the South African Jewish community, given its compromised history, may have greater need of a voice like Peter Beinart’s than the Jews of the United States. A cause for hope is that South African Jewry can also claim a list of names that spoke against the mainstream when the consequences were more severe than excommunication.