Zimbabwe: Jewish leaders instruct community to stay indoors amid coup

Israel's ambassador in Pretoria, South Africa, is in constant communication with the community.

Military vehicles and soldiers patrol the streets in Harare, November 15, 2017. (photo credit: REUTERS)
Military vehicles and soldiers patrol the streets in Harare, November 15, 2017.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Leaders of Zimbabwe’s Jewish community have instructed members of the tiny community to stay indoors following the military coup, Israel’s Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday.
In addition, the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem has called on Israelis to refrain from traveling to Zimbabwe until the situation there has stabilized.
There arecurrently 170 Jews living in the country: 108 of them are in the capital city of Harare and 64 in the city of Bulawayo. There are also some 50 Israelis currently living in Zimbabwe.
Israel’s Ambassador to South Africa, Lior Keinan said he was in constant communication with the community and all members appeared to be safe.
Colin Broomberg, a member of the Bulawayo community remarked that they were glad the situation had thus far been quiet and peaceful.
“Nobody really knows what’s happening,” he told The Jerusalem Post, as the situation was still unfolding, but he expressed hope that it would continue to be peaceful.
“It is business as usual here in Bulawayo as we go about our day as normal,” said Josh Lepar, president of the Bulawayo Hebrew Congregation.
Rabbi Moshe Silberhaft, known as the “traveling rabbi” of Southern Africa, told the Post he was in constant contact with the community in Harare, talking to representatives as the situation unfolded. 
He said that the Jewish community is calm and presently unaffected by the situation, though they are following advice to stay at home.
“We are providing them with more information about what is happening in the country than they have,” the rabbi said over the phone from Johannesburg. 
He noted that recently fired vice president of Zimbabwe Emmerson Mnangagwa was trying to prevent panic and instability while ousting president Robert Mugabe.
Silberhaft also said that the South African Jewish community offered members of the Zimbabwean community the option to temporarily leave Zimbabwe for South Africa, and was willing to arrange flights and accommodation for them. 
“Not a single member of the community has taken us up on our offer,” he highlighted, also noting that he had learned from the airlines that there were fewer people leaving the country than usual.
“That’s not to say that there won’t be bloodshed tomorrow,” Silberhaft added, indicating that the situation was volatile and could change at any moment. 
If it does, he said, plans are already in place to assist and secure the community.