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(Not so) proudly South African

My beloved country, we always prayed together for a better future. Why are you abandoning your Jews now?
Cape Town seen from above in South Africa. (Ben1183/iStock)
Cape Town seen from above in South Africa. (Ben1183/iStock)

“Cry, My Beloved Country” is an iconic line in the world of South African literature. The 1948 novel by Alan Paton critiqued the start of a legalized movement of groundless hatred: Apartheid. Nearly 80 years later, my heart is breaking. Is this not true today?

I have always considered myself a proud South African. I have always felt an affinity and love for the country in which I grew up, seeing no contradictions within my complex identity of Jew, South African, and now Israeli. Now, however, I am not so sure.

How can this have happened? How can my country have turned against us? As I watch along with countless others the vile and unapologetic hatred, the rife antisemitism, I feel horrified and scared. Before the war, I didn’t feel that Israel was the “only” place for Jews, but now…

To think that my original home government has turned Jews into the pariah, delighted in the reappropriation of its horrendous history of “Apartheid” and even recognizes Hamas. Who on earth would have a spokesperson from a terrorist organization on national TV? An organization proudly preaching the extermination of an entire people, and for what?

I am frightened for my loved ones I have left in South Africa. Would it even be safe for me to go back? I feel lost and bewildered. Is the multicultural Rainbow Nation not what it professes? Where has the awe-inspiring commitment to diversity, inclusion and tolerance gone? To think that antisemitism has breached the country at such a level is… I am wordless.

Some hope in me does prevail. The majority of South Africans couldn’t care less. Abandoned by their treacherous government, they are starving. They are scavenging for food on a daily basis without any hope for the actualization of a better life. Inflation is soaring, the economy is collapsing and the employment rate is gobsmacking. Even the majestic mountains are no longer safe. Surely, with this situation, the population couldn’t really care?

Yet, media outlets – television, radio, social media platforms – are the bane of all existence. The anti-Israel rhetoric is seeping into the public psyche, drip by drip. Is there hope? Israel is – one has to admit – losing the PR war. The world couldn’t care less about the terrorist organization plaguing our border and our hostages. The humanitarian crisis has so “nobly” overwhelmed the liberal world and turned blatant facts into a corrupted narrative. A puzzle indeed has pieces, some larger than others, but this puzzle’s picture has been forgotten.

South Africa, where are you? My beloved country, why have you betrayed us? We have fought for you, we have paid your taxes…are we repeating medieval, nay, Nazi Germany? How can this even be?

Please, my first home…it is not too late to repair your mistake. Do not descend into hateful antisemitism cloaked in anti-Zionism cloaked in anti-Israel policies. We have always prayed together for a better future in South Africa.

My beloved country, it is time. Do not abandon us now. Do not forego what it means to be South African, for as all South Africans proudly sing in our national anthem:

Sounds the call to come together,

And united we shall stand,

Let us live and strive for freedom,

In South Africa our land.

About the Author
Raised in South Africa, Tanya graduated cum laude with a BA in French and Philosophy and recently completed her MA in Jewish Studies at Hebrew University. She works in the Hebrew University Business School marketing team as a content writer. She is passionate about social impact, education and nonprofit work.