I had never heard of Olga Meshoe but pretended that I had. Although I could not attend the Johannesburg Israel solidarity event on August 3rd 2014, where no less than 12,000 people came out to voice their support for Israel, there was one person who seemed to stand out to everyone. And that was Olga Meshoe, daughter of Reverend Kenneth Meshoe of the ACDP (African Christian Democratic Party), a South African political party that holds 3 seats in Parliament.
What made her speech at the event captivating (I watched it on Youtube) was not her dynamism, eloquence, energy and power (even though all were present) but the fact that here was this diminutive Black person (who I had never heard of – but pretended that I did) who stood up as an impassioned supporter of Israel and who brought comfort to the South African Jewish community. She came to give us strength and that is exactly what she did.
So I asked to meet her for a coffee to see what she and her organization is all about. We met in Rosebank Johannesburg on a beautiful spring day last week and spent an hour trying our best to save the world. She is super smart, an attorney, having recently ended a stint with one of the countries leading law firms in the Banking and Finance division. She is deeply passionate about, well everything, including transformation and is a fervent Zionist (and she is a serious coffee drinker). She is not beyond criticism of Israel when she feels she needs to be, but has little tolerance for the hypocrisy so evident around her.
I made a mistake by getting her started on the BDS. Not clever, as we only had an hour to chat, but she is clearly appalled by the support that they are getting from other Black South Africans. And so she challenges them asking what they are doing for their own brothers and sisters in Africa where Boka Haram is raping, torturing and bludgeoning anyone who stands in their way. She knows that as a community it is very hard for us to engage this as we are discredited as having an agenda, but she is happy to take this on.
She is impassioned by the potential that can be achieved if South Africa had to learn from Israel with regard to technology, agriculture and so much more and believes that real transformation in South Africa can come about through working with Israel.
And she is a committed Christian. A deeply devoted card carrying member of a group that believes that Israel needs to belong to the Jews and who will do what she can to make sure that that happens.
Olga Meshoe founded an organization called DEISI (pronounced Daisy, as in “pushing up the…”) which is an acronym for Defend, Embrace, Invest, Support Israel. It is about creating awareness for Israel, for educating South Africans and forging relationships to the benefit of Israel, Jews, South Africans and Christians. Sounds pretty good to me. And she is coming to Israel in November. Along with 30 other members she will be visiting Israel for two weeks. And I might, I think, have promised that we would help. Because she helped us, when we needed it and I think that she and her organization deserves our assistance.
Olga Meshoe came to us when we were at our lowest point and she told us that there is someone out there who will stand by us, who is on our side and that still loves us. She gave us hope when we most needed it and we need to be grateful for that. DEISI is a new organization (which is maybe why I hadn’t heard of it but pretended that I did) but it is one that has the potential to do so much for South Africa, for Israel and for us.
And so I believe that our first step is to become familiar with this name and with the organization and even if you haven’t heard of them, just pretend that you have. It’s worth our while.