The Jewish day school United Herzlia Schools (Herzlia High School), which is located in Cape Town, has been requested to be “deregistered” from the Department of Education’s list of schools by the South African political group Economic Freedom Front (EFF).
Aishah Cassiem, an EFF member of the Western Cape Provincial Legislature (MPL), demanded that United Herzlia Schools be “deregistered, based on the school being pro-Israel,” during a discussion on that day in the legislature.
It wasn’t the Jewish community or Cape Town parents sending their kids to a Jewish school to preserve their religious convictions, Cassiem said in her statement while donning the EFF’s trademark red overalls and a Palestinian keffiyeh.
Cassiem said that Herzlia High School’s “enforcement of Zionism on Jewish students and encouragement of participation in Apartheid activities and inhumane practices, as well as encouragement of joining [the] Israel Defense Forces after passing grade 12” was the true problem.
This came after the Western Cape Legislature heard a plea from Muhammad Khalid Sayed, the provincial education spokesman for the governing African National Council (ANC), to take action against Herzlia High School’s Zionist curriculum.
Geoff Cohen, the director of instruction at Herzlia High School, and Andries van Renseen, the school’s executive director, said in an interview with Israeli television that over 22% of their pupils leave for Israel after graduating and enlist in the Israeli army.
In response, Maynier said that the issue had been posed to draw attention away from the government’s connections to Russia.
International condemnation has been directed at South Africa for appearing to support Russia in its conflict with Ukraine.
It was clear, according to Maynier, that an effort had been made to exploit a school as a diversion from the mess that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine had created in terms of international relations.
The Cape SAJBD is extremely alarmed by the EFF’s most recent public criticism of board members of the Herzlia Institute, which included posting images and names on social media, according to Daniel Bloch, executive director of the Cape South African Jewish Board of Deputies, who spoke with JNS.
“The Cape SAJBD will not stand by and allow this political grandstanding to continue. It is a shameful attack on the largest and most prestigious Jewish school in the Western Cape. We will continue to support Herzlia and its leadership and will fight the ANC, EFF, and all other organizations’ reprehensible attempts to deregister the school.
“This is just the latest unsuccessful attempt by anti-Israel lobbyists to bully and intimidate the Cape Town Jewish community.
The national chairman of the South African Zionist Federation, Rowan Polovin, stated: “The South African government—and all opposition parties—should focus their attention on issues affecting South Africans, particularly those pertaining to our youth, rather than on wars elsewhere.
These issues include our high rates of school dropouts, pit latrines, a shortage of food, water, and power in our public schools, as well as an egregiously high percentage of young unemployment.
In spite of its support for a two-state solution, South Africa’s foreign policy supports the Palestinians, which has strained relations between Pretoria and Jerusalem in recent years.
The newest action in a campaign by the EFF against the Cape Town Jewish community targets Herzlia High School.
The leader of the political party Al Jama-ah publicly requested the South African Police Service (SAPS) to carry out the arrest of the “two bodies” (SAJBD and SAZF) he claimed were “advocating for racism and apartheid Israel” a few weeks ago.
Al Jama-ah claimed they are “after our students at UCT [the University of Cape Town]” and claimed they are “in Cape Town.”
There is no active arrest warrant.