SA could learn from Israel

AS I watched the SABC2 feature, Israel-South Africa Agriculture Partnerships Living Land, two conflicting thoughts exploded in my mind: Israel's ability and willingness to help poor people in South Africa and the BDS (Boycott Disinvestment and Sanctions) campaign to kill all ties with Israel.

Countries are flocking to Israel to learn and profit from its miraculous advances in agriculture, healthcare, education and technology. Bill Gates calls Israel "a high-tech superpower" and Warren Buffet refers to it as the "most promising investment hub outside the US".

Right now there are more than 250 multinational research and development projects involving countries from Australia and Norway to China and India.

Israel with its advanced agricultural technologies can help South Africa create its own "miracle in the desert" and get poor people across the line to self-sufficiency and dignity. The first beneficiaries would be the scores of rural communities who have land but do not know how to make it productive.

Mashav, Israel's Agency for International Development Cooperation, has already notched up impressive wins in KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga and the Eastern Cape.

In one rural community income grew from a subsistence R30000 to a profitable and life-changing R400000 a year. So what's the problem?

Incredibly, there exists a organisation whose principal aim is to stop these initiatives. BDS South Africa, under the pretext of compassion, sends out an unspoken but deadly message to poor South Africans: seek help where you can but not from us and never from Israel.

Ralph Waldo Emerson, with his eagle eye for hypocrisy, sums it up thus: "[Their] love afar is spite at home". When you next see an activist in a "boycott Israel" T-shirt, you will know who is paying the price for it – the South African poor.

Chuck Volpe, Port Elizabeth