(Johannesburg, South Africa – October 19, 2022)
International Israel education organisation, StandWithUs (SWU) has officially opened national operations in South Africa. Heading up the new office located in Johannesburg is Cassandra Mayekiso, who has been appointed as Executive Director of StandWithUs South Africa. Born in Johannesburg, Kayla Ginsberg is the new Campus Regional Manager. Together, they will spearhead SWU's efforts in the region and fulfill its mission of inspiring and educating people of all ages and backgrounds about Israel, challenging misinformation, and fighting antisemitism.
StandWithUs is already well-known in South Africa for its educational outreach and effective pushback against discriminatory boycott campaigns against Israel. For many years, StandWithUs has worked with local partners to counter efforts by anti-Israel groups who host "Israel Apartheid Week," a campaign of hate that misrepresents Israel and dehumanizes Israelis. The campaigns often seek to intimidate Jewish students and ends up creating an overwhelmingly hostile campus climate.
StandWithUs staff, SAUJS representatives and local students on WITS campus opposing “Israel Apartheid Week”, March 2022
StandWithUs is invited annually by the South African Union of Jewish Students (SAUJS) with an on-the-ground delegation to support Jewish students in South Africa during BDS’ Israel Apartheid Week (IAW). Every year, StandWithUs sends diverse Israelis from different backgrounds to join South African pro-Israel students to engage with students on campuses including Wits, the University of Cape Town, among others. The organisation has been working with South African audiences, running programs for South African students and partnering in various ways with local organizations for over a decade, including with SAUJS, SAJBD - South Africa Jewish Board of Deputies, Zionist Federation of South Africa in Johannesburg and Capetown, South Africa Friends of Israel, (SAFI), King David schools in Johannesburg, United Herzlia schools in the Western Cape, Bnei Akiva, OHRSOM students and many others.
StandWithUs has also hosted educational presentations in Israel for South African schools and school trips to Israel from both Johannesburg and Capetown, including King David schools in Johannesburg, United Herzlia schools in the Western Cape, Bnei Akiva, and OHRSOM. In addition, hundreds of South Africans have visited the StandWithUs Katz Israel Education Center in Jerusalem to participate in workshops on countering antisemitism, engaging in Israel activism, and learning more about the conflict and the region in general. Now, thanks primarily to the generosity of Steve and Rita Emerson, founders of the international university Emerson Fellowship, StandWithUs is ready to set up on-the-ground efforts to provide deeper, ongoing support for students as well as for the general community who seek to push back against the misinformation that too often clouds debate and discussion on Israel and the Middle East.
Wendy Kahn, National Director of the South African Jewish Board of Deputies, said "We welcome StandWithUs to South Africa. For many years they have worked with and supported our community in preparing our students to effectively stand up against the assault on our rights to have a relationship with Israel. Providing our young people with tools and know-how on defending their rights to be proud Zionists in South Africa, brings an exciting new component to our vibrant community. It has been a pleasure working with StandWithUs’s outstanding leadership and we look forward to their contributions going forward."
CEO and Co-founder of StandWithUs, Roz Rothstein said: “In the 21 years since our inception, StandWithUs has become a global movement with activity on six continents. We recognize the power of being a worldwide network, while at the same time, ensuring our output is nuanced for local audiences. We are excited to be investing more deeply in our new operation in South Africa and welcome our new team! Our work will involve both the Jewish and non-Jewish communities to inspire people of all ages about Israel with exciting programming. And together, we will work to push back against the egregious, slanderous claims made by antisemitic activists.”
Cassandra Mayekiso Cassandra Mayekiso was the co-founder of Africa for Israel Christian Coalition and previously volunteered in Jerusalem. Upon returning to Cape Town, she joined the South African Union of Jewish Students as the National Zionist Officer. After graduating, Cassandra went on to work at Highlight Films in Tel Aviv, Israel, where she gained experience at one of Israel’s biggest production houses. She again returned to Cape Town to work in the film and commercial industry and also assisted in the growth of various pro-Israel organisations. She was the Director of the South African Union of Jewish Students, Western Cape, and was also the South African Friends of Israel Coordinator where she worked closely with the South African Zionist Federation and Christian Zionist partners.
Kayla Ginsberg Kayla Ginsberg, born in Johannesburg, is a finance and law graduate, with experience in commercial law and litigation. She spent time in Israel after graduation both touring and learning, and subsequently attended the University of the Witwatersrand for her undergraduate and postgraduate degrees. Ginsberg has vast experience in community activism, particularly with students and different communal organizations. She has held various positions in numerous local and international organizations, and has been at the forefront of the fight against boycott campaigns against Israel as well as antisemitism on South African tertiary education campuses across the country.
Noa Raman, Director of Partnerships in Israel, has been leading StandWithUs efforts in South Africa for the past four years and shares how: “establishing StandWithUs South Africa on the ground will empower the next generation to learn the history, facts, and skills needed to educate about Israel and push back against falsehoods about the Jewish state and anti-Jewish bigotry. South Africa is a rainbow nation, a term often used to describe its diverse cultural, racial, and religious make-up. As a post-Apartheid country, South Africa is ground zero for the Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions campaigns and has one of the most violent and antisemitic "Israel Apartheid Week" campaigns in the world. StandWithUs South Africa will inspire the community to be proud of their cultures, religions, identities, and beliefs while push back against antisemitism.”
Executive Director of StandWithUs Israel, Michael Dickson, commented: “We are making the full resources of our organization available to our partners, to young people and to the community at large in South Africa, including educational curricula, research, factsheets and booklets, best practices, our vast social media presence, Holocaust Education Centre and Centre for Combating Antisemitism. In addition to new local educational programming on the ground, we will continue to offer an array of initiatives to South African youth spending time in Israel. We have had so many requests – especially from students – to grow our presence on the ground and I am so pleased that we will be able to complement, not duplicate, existing work in order to collectively grow in effectiveness through partnerships.” About StandWithUs StandWithUs is a non-partisan educational non-profit organization that inspires and educates people of all ages and backgrounds, challenges misinformation and fights antisemitism with programs on six continents with offices throughout the U.S., in Israel, Europe, the UK, Canada, Brazil and this year in the Netherlands, Australia and South Africa. We are inspired by our love of Israel, our belief that education is the road to peace, and our commitment to stand up for Israel and the Jewish people.
StandWithUs empowers and energizes students and communities with leadership training and educational programs in primary schools, high school and on university campuses. StandWithUs informs through social media, print and digital materials, films, weekly newsletters and missions to Israel.
StandWithUs has received the highest ratings from Charity Navigator (4 stars) and Guidestar (Platinum) and is a U.S. registered 501 (c) (3) non-profit and Section 46 charity (Israel), a UK registered charity and StandWithUs is not politically aligned in any country.
StandWithUs does not and has never advocated specific policies for Israel. Our work and our respect for Israel’s democratically elected government are not dependent upon which parties might be in power. Our goal is to counter antisemitism and to educate the public about Israel, and empower people of all ages to educate their communities, and to make it possible to have reasonable, informed conversations about Israel on campuses and in communities.
Social Media: Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/StandWithUs Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/standwithus/ Twitter: https://twitter.com/StandWithUs TikTok: https://www.tiktok.com/@stand_with_us LinkedIn: https://il.linkedin.com/company/standwithus
For further information, to get involved and for partnership opportunities with StandWithUs South Africa, please contact Noa Raman, Director of Partnerships at email@example.com or email Cassandra Mayekiso at firstname.lastname@example.org