“I am calling on [Zev & Avrom Krengel] to resign,” writes Hersch,
“I write as a national vice-chairman of SAZF & former chairman of
SAZF (Cape Council) & former member of the Board (Cape Council).”
USERS PLEASE NOTE: MyShtetl understands that while Hersch
still holds office at the Fed, he has not participated in
anything related to SAZF matters for a number of years.
By David Hersch
I have to disagree with whoever stated in the Ha'aretz article below that the Krengels are good leaders. NOT AT ALL!!! And never have been.
Two recent incidents, both appallingly handled, are the Goldstone Barmitzvah debacle and now the disgraceful incident and behaviour towards the Israeli Ambassador and the Israeli Embassy. The instruction by the Krengels to their staffs in Johannesburg not to communicate in any way with the Ambassador and the Embassy is appalling in the extreme and shameful and I doubt any member of the Jewish community would want in any way to be associated with such a decision or the Krengels.
Then there was the attack on Caroline Glick after she was a special guest of the SAZF's in South Africa recently. The attack on her after her visit to South Africa was uncouth, unjustified, self-serving, stupid and uncalled for. What Caroline wrote, except for the bus story, was correct and she had every right to write what she did.
It is time for the clueless Krengels to go and the South African Jewish community will be much better for it. The incident with the Ambassador and the Israeli embassy is such a big issue and is unprecedented in the history of the South African Jewish Community that I believe they cannot and should not be allowed to retain their positions as chairmen of the South African Jewish Board of Deputies and South African Zionist Federation respectively. In a different country they would have to fall on their swords. I am calling on them to resign. What they did is unforgiveable and unacceptable and this is not what we expect from the leadership of these two bodies.
I know people are smarting about this whole affair and want them removed from office sooner rather than later. In this there is a parallel with this community and the recent events in Egypt in that we need and want new leadership.
The Krengel Brotherhood represents only ego and very little common sense, as so clearly illustrated in the Ha'aretz article. These brothers run the two national bodies in an authoritarian way. The quotes in this article ascribed to them are more spin than anything else. This is just not good enough!
It is time for them to go and for the South African community to have less ego-driven and more substantial and wise leadership in these less than democratically elected bodies and therefore not fully representative of the South African Jewish community. We are all involved in the war against Israel and our people and we need far better and more intelligent leadership.
This issue is covered in the latest South African Jewish Report as well. I am pleased to see that the Cape Board of Deputies have distanced themselves from the Krengels and National Board. I am lead to believe the Pretoria Board have done the same.
I write as a national vice-chairman of the SAZF and former chairman of the SAZF (Cape Council) and former member of the Board of Deputies (Cape Council).
IMPORTANT COMMENT FOLLOWING ARTICLES BELOW
It is time for the Krengel Brotherhood to go and whilst Zev Krengel should resign immediately as chairman of the South African Jewish Board of Deputies, Avrom Krengel can and should also resign and there will be an opportunity to remove him from office at the SAZF Conference in Johannesburg on 26 March. Avrom Krengel has been chairman for eight years and it is time for new blood and new more democratic and less authoritarian leadership.
Note the ridiculous, infantile and emotive comment below about the “devastating blow” to the South African Jewish community following the cancellation of Tzipi Livni’s visit. How simply frightful! How humiliating! How incredibly mindless and stupid beyond belief!
Do the right thing Avrom Krengel and do not stand for re-election. Eight years of your "reign" has been more than enough. And do the right thing Zev Krengel and also go, sooner rather than later.
The constitution of the SAZF was amended four years ago extending a committee's term of office from two to four years. The spin is the expense of a conference. This is nonsense!
The term of office should be reduced to two years again and a chairman should only be allowed to stand for two consecutive terms.
We need leaders, both nationally and locally, that are Zionists and committed to the welfare and defence of our community and egos and self-interest must not be allowed or countenanced.
If anyone still thinks the Krengel brothers should remain as chairmen of the Board of Deputies and the Zionist Federation after reading these articles, then I think they are crazy.
DAVID HERSCH, CapeTown
Background on the recent Hersch/Krengel squabble for Shtetlers to catch up:
The original MyShtetl article, CAPE ZIONISTS WANT TUTU REMOVED, appeared on 12 January. There were just over 300 signatures on the petition at the time. This grew to 558 by 18 Jan and to just 600 (target 1,000) by 20 Feb – so there is not exactly a great rush of support from the community. SEE THE PETITION
The disclaimer article, NOT IN OUR NAME, SAYS FED, saw the SAZF disassociating themselves from the move which was launched “without prior consultation or approval of the SAZF and represents their personal views alone.”
Hersch responded with THE CASE AGAINST TUTU – IN HIS OWN WORDS on 18 January in which he used Tutu’s own words to illustrate his point.
Ha'aretz - 18 February 2011
CLICK HERE TO READ IT ON HA’ARETZ
S.A. Jewish leader backs down in spat with Israeli embassy
Zev Krengel apologized to Israeli ambassador for 'acrimonious statements' he made in the wake of a row about a cancelled trip to the country by Kadima Chair Tzipi Livni.
By Raphael Ahren
A senior leader of the South African Jewish community this week apologized to the Israeli ambassador in Pretoria for “acrimonious statements” he made in the wake of a row about a cancelled trip to the country by MK Tzipi Livni.
“Things were said on both sides, and when I realized what I said I apologized,” Zev Krengel, the chairman of the South African Jewish Board of Deputies, told Anglo File Wednesday, a day after he met with Ambassador Dov Segev-Steinberg in Pretoria to make up. “The meeting was done in a good spirit − we have commitments from both parties to repair the relationship between the community and the embassy and will continue working well together.”
Relations turned sour last month when a strike by Israeli diplomatic workers led to the cancellation January 19 two days before Livni’s long-planned visit, organized by Zev Krengel and his brother Avrom Krengel, who chairs the South African Zionist Federation. The two brothers met with Segev-Steinberg and his deputy, Ya’akov Finkelstein on January 16. Krengel attacked the Israeli embassy for not trying to make the visit possible despite the strike, making some rancorous statements that were leaked last week to the South African Jewish Report.
“We were taught at a young age that Israel would always be there for us. This shows us that this is not the case,” the ambassador was told according to minutes of the meeting, which the Jewish Report published in its February 11 issue.
One of the Krengels said: “It will be an irretrievable breakdown in the relations. It will be seen by the community as a betrayal.”
A fuming Zev Krengel told Haaretz last month a cancellation of the trip would deal a “devastating blow” to the South African Jewish community − which sees itself on the front line of defending Israel to its many critics in the South African government − because no senior Israeli had visited the country in years.
The article in the Jewish Report also cites a “particularly ugly section” of the minutes in which the Krengels “also apparently threatened” the Israeli embassy with closure, “as it was said that one of the main reasons it was here was only because of the community.” Sources who have seen the minutes confirmed that the newspaper’s rendition of its content were accurate.
Zev Krengel’s apology can be seen as an attempt to quell the sharp criticism of his actions that led to the tensions between the Board and the Israeli embassy.
In a statement released in South Africa last week before the meeting in which he apologized, Krengel attacked the embassy for having “circulated” the minutes of the meeting. “It was clearly understood that the meeting was to be a confidential, off-the-record one... Both from a moral and legal point of view, the recording of the meeting without the knowledge of the SAJBD and SAZF representatives and even more so the subsequent disseminating of them without the latter’s being in any way consulted regarding the content has to be seriously questioned,” Krengel wrote. The minutes are “a distorted, often un-contextualised account” of the discussion, he asserted.
“As a senior official in the Foreign Affairs Workers’ Union, it was hoped that he would agree to request a dispensation [of the strike] for her to come,” Krengel also said in the release last week, referring to the exception it made for Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman’s visit to London. He also said Segev-Steinberg had attributed the visit’s cancellation in part to threats that Livni might be arrested in South Africa for her role in Operation Cast Lead on top of the strike. Krengel said the strike was the sole reason, citing a letter Livni sent to express her regret at being unable to come.
At the same time, Krengel indicated some contrition in last week’s statement. “Under the circumstances, it should be understandable that the discussion often became extremely robust, and that in the heat of the moment certain statements might have been made that, in retrospect, were inappropriate and possibly hurtful,” Krengel said.
Reached this week for comment, Ambassador Segev-Steinberg referred Anglo File to Yossef Levy, a spokesman for the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem. Levy commented by pointing to a joint statement released by the ambassador and the Board of Deputies this week: “Zev Krengel apologized for the acrimonious statements made at the meeting on the 16th of January and any hurt that resulted from statements made. Ambassador Segev Steinberg expressed his regret for the need to cancel the Tzipi Livni visit to South Africa earlier this year due to the strike in the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Both parties look forward to re-establishing the positive working relationship between the Embassy and Jewish communal leadership that has always existed in South Africa.”
The feud between the South African Jewish communal leadership and the Israeli embassy heated up further when Avrom Krengel, of the Zionist Federation, told Deputy Ambassador Finkelstein February 3 that he was withdrawing his invitation to Finkelstein three days before an event discussing the anti-Israel boycott movement. In an e-mail that day, a copy of which Anglo File obtained, Krengel said his decision was made “in light of the current reassessment by certain South African communal organisations of their relationship with the embassy.”
Less than 24 hours after his first e-mail, Krengel re-invited Finkelstein, writing by e-mail that upon “reflection it is appropriate and correct that a representative of the Embassy should be in attendance.”
Finkelstein attended the event but the atmosphere was “very tense,” according to someone who attended but asked to remain anonymous.
“Everything is back to normal, everything is the same as it was,” Avrom Krengel told Anglo File Wednesday. “There is a normal and full relationship between the Zionist Federation and the embassy.”
But despite this week’s reconciliatory tones, many South African Jews feel their communal leadership overreacted in the way they dealt with the Israeli diplomats. A community official in South Africa described the run-in as “unquestionably disgusting” and said that the community is “very much against what these two brothers did and certainly [does] not wish to be associated with this behaviour.”
The Cape Council of the Jewish Board of Deputies decided unanimously to distance itself from the Krengel comments, according to executive director David Jacobson. Other local South African Jews told Anglo File that while the Krengel brothers are good leaders, their handling of the cancelled Livni visit was unacceptable.
Krengel said he is currently considering running for a third term as chairman of the Zionist Federation, a position he has held for eight years, at upcoming elections in March.
Zev Krengel acknowledged that people were critical of his actions but said they were borne out of well-meant zeal. “We just tried too hard for Israel. We tried too hard to get MK Tzipi Livni to come to South Africa and allow Israel’s voice to be heard,” he told Anglo File. “We don’t do these things for money, we do it on a voluntary basis, and we do it clearly for the love of Israel. But it was very low point, for me personally, in my communal career.”
SA JEWISH REPORT - 18 - 25 February 2011
Israel’s Ambassador Segev-Steinberg and the SAJBD’s Zev Krengel clear the air
DOV SEGEV-STEINBERG, Israel’s ambassador to South Africa and Zev Krengel, national chairman of the SAJBD, on Tuesday at a meeting in Pretoria, cleared the air in an effort to restore cordial relations between the embassy and the SAJBD, which had soured after the aborted Tzipi Livni visit to the country.
A strike of the Israel Foreign Affairs Ministry union at the time had preventedthe ambassador from giving the necessary assistance to enable Livni, leader of Kadima in the Knesset, from visiting the country.
Minutes of an acrimonious January 16 meeting between Krengel and his brother Avrom, chairman of the SAZF and Segev-Steinberg and his deputy Yaacov Finkelstein, were leaked to the SA Jewish Report and other parties. At Tuesday’s meeting, besides Zev Krengel and Segev-Steinberg, were present Mary Kluk, vice chairman of the SAJBD, Michael Bagraim, president of the SAJBD and Yaacov Finkelstein, Segev-Steinberg’s deputy.
The media release issued after the meeting, reads:
“Ambassador Dov Segev-Steinberg and Mr Zev Krengel met on February 15 in Pretoria in an attempt to address the recent tension between the Embassy and the SA Jewish Board of Deputies.
“Mr Zev Krengel apologised for the acrimonious statements made at the meeting on January 16 and (for) any hurt that resulted from statements made.
“Ambassador Segev-Steinberg expressed his regret for the need to cancel the Tzipi Livni visit to South Africa earlier this year due to the strike in the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
“Both parties look forward to re-establishing the positive working relationship between the Embassy and Jewish communal leadership that has always existed in South Africa.”
SA JEWISH REPORT 18 - 25 February 2011
SAJBD (Cape Council) slams Zev Krengel
MOIRA SCHNEIDER, CAPE TOWN
IN AN unprecedented move, the South African Jewish Board of Deputies (Cape Council) has broken ranks with the national body in connection with the breakdown in relations between National Chairman Zev Krengel and Israel’s Ambassador to South Africa Dov Segev-Steinberg over the cancellation of the visit of Israeli Opposition Leader Tzipi Livni to this country.
The Cape Board wrote to the ambassador late last week apologising for and dissociating itself from Krengel’s behaviour at a meeting that took place on January 16.
SAJBD National President Michael Bagraim, facilitated a mediation between the parties at a meeting in Pretoria on Tuesday night to try and ensure Shalom Bayit. “We’ve arrived at a workable solution,” he told Jewish Report afterwards.
“Already the ambassador has come forward with suggestions on a joint effort for a seminar he wants to give, including a videoconference with a high-ranking official in Israel to give feedback on what’s happening in Egypt. So they’ve reached out to the Board to start working together on projects.
“Krengel’s behaviour should never have happened and he agrees. He was emotional, he was distraught and that emotion was reflected in his language which unfortunately was directed at the ambassador.