500+ SA Representatives of Religious Establishments, Political Parties, NGOs & Ambassadors Commemorate Israel’s 75th Independence Day in Pretoria

On Wednesday, 10 May 2023, over 500 representatives of local religious establishments, businesses, political parties, local government, NGOs as well as Ambassadors and Diplomats from across Africa, South America, Europe and Asia gathered together at the Embassy of Israel in South Africa with the South African Zionist Federation (SAZF) to celebrate Israel’s 75th Independence Day in Pretoria.

This momentous gathering took place whilst the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) militant group were firing rockets from civilian areas in Gaza into Israeli civilian communities. Almost 1 500 rockets were fired from Gaza into Israel in the last week, 290 of which misfired and landed inside civilian areas in Gaza. A cease-fire has since been mediated by Egypt. 

The Israeli Embassy in South Africa and SAZF extend their gratitude to a number of local and international public representatives for joining us at the Independence Day event last week. Embassy guests included His Grace Bishop Dr Barnabas Lekganyane, President of the Zion Christian Church (ZCC) and Prince Zuzifa Buthelezi from the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP). Both leaders have repeatedly affirmed their support for the state of Israel, a sentiment that is echoed by millions of South Africans as well. Members of opposition parties, including the ACDP, Action SA, FF+ and the DA were all in attendance as well. 

The Independence Day celebrations were commemorated by local Gospel artist, Themba Masina, who recently won the South African Friends of Israel “Hatikvah” competition. Masina performed an exceptionally moving and soulful rendition of the Israeli National Anthem. For access to video footage of his performance, please click here. For images of the well-attended event in Pretoria, click here, here and here

Israel’s national anthem Hatikvah, or  “The Hope”, reflects the 2000-year-old desire of the Jewish people to return to the land of Israel, with the words “Our hope is not yet lost, the hope of two thousand years, to be a free nation in our land, the land of Zion and Jerusalem”.

“Today we celebrate the Jewish homeland alongside the astounding fact that she continues not only to exist but to thrive. We are blessed that here in democratic South Africa, we have the freedom to be Jewish, to be proudly South African and to be able to celebrate openly that our spiritual, religious and eternal capital is Jerusalem” shares Rowan Polovin, National Chairman of the SAZF.

The Israeli Ambassador to South Africa, Eli Belotsercovsky added that “Israel is the only Jewish state in the world but it is first and foremost a vibrant democracy, a country of all its citizens, Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Druze. Our collective identity forms a key pillar of our communities and people. We have Arab doctors treating Jewish patients, Arab Judges in the Israeli courts and Arab Professors teaching in the universities”.

In just seven decades, Israel has become an economic miracle, with one of the most successful economies in the world, creating more startups in the technological and medical arena per capita than any other country.. Israel has normalised relations with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain as well as Sudan and Morocco here on the African continent. 

The foreign ministers of Egypt, Morocco, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Israel have established a forum to further the historic Abraham Accords, which has led to a warm peace between Israel and the Arab world. This metamorphosis, after decades of hostility towards Israel, has opened up new possibilities unimagined until recently, and South Africa has an opportunity to be part of this historic transformation.

Israel has shown, time and time again, her willingness and ability to make peace. A prosperous future remains possible, with any state or people willing to coexist peacefully with Israel and her citizens. Where there may be conflict, South Africa has the opportunity to play a mediatory role between both sides.

“In this light, we call on the South African government to play a constructive role between Israel and Palestinians, in order to foster positive relations with both. Many other states have done this already, allowing both Israelis and the Palestinian people to benefit from bilateral relations” concludes Polovin.