Download Jewish Social Studies - Volume 16, Number 3, Spring Summer by Derek Penslar, Steven J. Zipperstein Editors PDF

By Derek Penslar, Steven J. Zipperstein Editors

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Extra resources for Jewish Social Studies - Volume 16, Number 3, Spring Summer 2010

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42 In the 1930s, Jews generally perceived the antisemitism they were experiencing to be a different category than racism against non-whites; terms like “racial antagonism” often referred solely to conflicts among white groups. 43 For a brief moment during the war and in its aftermath, however, Jewish discourse began to gesture tentatively but perceptibly toward the links between antisemitism and discrimination against other persecuted groups. To be sure, much community discourse continued to focus on matters of Jewish concern and conceived of Jews’ position in South Africa primarily in the context of white society.

This Jew had won the battle of Israel—a battle that began in Warsaw. 91 As the quote’s final sentence implies, the underlying motivation for Jewish self-defense was continuing Jewish vulnerability, and speakers warned repeatedly of the antisemitic dangers that Jews faced in the post-Nazi era. Jews would no longer passively accept persecution, nor would they wait for the world to come to their rescue. ” 93 Zionism had been the dominant political ideology since the early days of Jewish communal existence in South Africa, never significantly challenged by rivals such as the Bund, ­Agudath Israel, or Reform Judaism as was the case elsewhere.

To a significant degree, South African Zionism developed in tandem with the community’s experiences and perceptions of antisemitism. Zionist commitment saw substantial growth in the 1930s and, after the Holocaust, became the focal point of the community’s self-image, rooted in the powerful memory of recent Jewish persecution. Zionist commitment also reinforced the community’s relationship with the apartheid regime, both because of the minority group identity it affirmed and because of the relationship it helped foster between Jews and Afrikaners.

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