THE WORLD is embroiled in a conflict over the meaning of war, the right of self-defense, non-aggression and armed struggle, the very institutions of peace, justice and global harmony. Having taken Israel to the ICJ and gained interim measures, none of which involve a direct ceasefire order (the only tangible step, an order for the release of hostages — for Israel to report and abide by the convention), we are all stuck kicking a can of worms down the road.
Our country has failed to extract any compliance with the ICJ order from Hamas. Though Naledi Pandor has been robust in her criticism of Israel, urging the Security Council to enforce the convention, and South Africa may have some influence with the Palestinians, it has delivered nothing solid from any of the organizations whose beleaguered citizens it champions.
As Hamas leaders fly to Cairo to discuss a possible truce, and UN aid agency UNWRA is embroiled in a controversy surrounding the documented participation of its members in the tragic events of 7/10, we all become entangled in a power-play with Israel over the terms of the ‘Genocide Convention’ with world media attention turning to the plight of Jews within South Africa. Since the preliminary hearing, there have been several controversies involving a cricket captain, utterances by the Chief Rabbi, and even a debacle involving the wearing of a Star of David by a City of Johannesburg councilor.
If Pandor’s interpretation of the ICJ interim order means the Palestinian people are now a ‘protected group’, does it follow that their ongoing Jihad against Israel is similarly protected? Is the global Inquisition of Jewish Identity under the rubric of ‘Zionism vs Anti-Zionism’ even lawful, and is South Africa protecting its own citizens from religious-motivated attack?
The woke left have certainly not risen up to defend secular rights and freedoms for all, those who claim like the Proctors of Salem, to be able to tell a ‘Zionist from a Non-Zionist’, or a Witch from a Non-Witch, have not been forthcoming when it comes to protecting the universal rights of those under their immediate purview. To paraphrase, Sartre (after Voltaire), if the Zionist did not exist, the Anti-Zionist would have created him.
Any one of these subjects would ordinarily elicit a response, deserving of an essay or two. I hope they do. But for now, let me address this nugget:
An Almighty Rabble: Rabbi and Counter-Rabbi?
An organisation calling itself ‘South African Jews for a Free Palestine‘ released a statement this morning on Chief Rabbi Warren Goldstein’s utterances throwing shade on the ANC, alleging ‘Iran is funding South Africa’s case and SA banks may be acting as conduits for terrorism’.
Jo Bluen posted “Rabbi Goldstein has acted as a gatekeeper of Judaism in South Africa. He has rejected the Jewish identity of people who belong to non-Orthodox Jewish communities and has been known to “encourage the institutionalisation of certain Ultra Orthodox customs within the community”.
The statement goes on to list a number of issues to do with language, colonialism and allegations of ‘lack of pluralism’. Is the Chief Rabbi whistling while Gaza is burning?
Unfortunately it is not simply the Chief Rabbi, but South Africa’s legal system which has issued similar determinations that otherise and exclude Jews outside the fold.
I for my part have been anathematized by a racist 2010 finding that since I am a “Jew in breach of my religion” I cannot claim anti-Semitism on the basis of an outrageous inquisition of identity by a party whose disciples see fit to define ‘who is and who is not a Jew’, who is authentically Jewish and who is not. Both Spinoza and Trotsky received similar treatment.
JFP claim: “Not only has Rabbi Goldstein himself refused to attend events that have platformed non-Orthodox rabbis and leaders but he has also implored other Orthodox Jewish leaders to do the same in the spirit of rejecting pluralistic attitudes. These include events with talks and panels on topics including Progressive Judaism, LGBTQ+ belonging in the context of Torah, and gender egalitarianism – which might be considered among the “liberal values” he claims that Apartheid Israel defends. Rabbi Goldstein’s reluctance to engage with these issues within the context of Orthodox Judaism, and his support for the active suppression of this engagement, only serves to uphold the legacy in many Orthodox Jewish communities of exclusion, queerphobia and misogyny. This environment has led to many queer Orthodox Jews having to leave their families to find belonging, and at least one recent case of death by suicide.“
The criticism is certainly justified, but I suggest it would be better directed at our Judge President, the same justice system which upheld a 2009 order banning the Dalai Lama.