South African Jewry Relents, Invites Goldstone to Grandson’s Bar Mitzvah
The Jewish blogosphere has won another victory for decency. The leadership of the South African Jewish community had colluded to make Judge Richard Goldstone feel unwanted in his own native Jewish community at his grandson’s upcoming bar mitzvah. After hearing of threats of demonstrations outside the synagogue from the uber-Zionist faction and that the chief rabbi and chair of the Board of Deputies were also in accord with the cold shoulder, Goldstone announced that under no circumstances would he attend. He did not want to mar his grandson’s simcha with such shtuss. The Jewish communal leaders, in full-bore hypocritical mode, claimed that Goldstone made a wise choice since they didn’t wish to see his grandson’s ceremony tarnished either.
That’s when I and others in the progressive Jewish blogosphere went into overdrive. I wrote this post saying that the only way to confront a bully was by getting eyeball to eyeball and showing the bully for what he really is. I asked a group of progressive Jewish rabbis if they’d consider drafting a statement of support for Goldstone and in criticism of the South African community.
Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb and others took this on and two days ago they released a wonderful statement. In the meantime, the NY Times’ South African correspondent, Barry Bearak, also wrote an incredulous report on the banning. The South African progressive Jewish site, Open Shuhadah Street, also posted incisive commentary on the issue.
A South African Jewish progressive just wrote telling me the Capetown Jewish leadership released a public statement distancing itself from the actions of the Johannesburg leadership. He added:
This whole event has been an unmitigated PR disaster for the Board, the Zionist Federation, and the Chief Rabbi.
All of these combined to create the final crack in the community’s resolve. Today Judge Goldstone circulated a statement from the Board of Deputies (the same body which claimed it had nothing to do with his banning) which welcomed his attendance at the bar mitzvah. The Board committed to no protests at the ceremony and invited Goldstone to address the board on the subject of his UN report on the Gaza war. A victory all around:
“The SA Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) is pleased to announce that, following consultation between all the parties involved, an agreement has been reached confirming Judge Richard Goldstone attending his grandson’s forthcoming barmitzvah [sic] ceremony.
It was agreed that a meeting hosted by the SA Zionist Federation would take place between Judge Goldstone and leadership of the SA Zionist Federation and other Jewish Communal representatives to discuss the Jewish community’s response to the report of the Commission chaired by Judge Goldstone last year and for Judge Goldstone to give his perspectives on the issue.
It was further confirmed that Judge Goldstone would attend his grandson’s barmitzvah and that there would be no protests associated with the barmitzvah.
The SAJBD respectfully requests, in light of the agreement reached, that all parties immediately desist all public activities on this matter so that the young man’s barmitzvah celebration can be returned to the privacy and dignity that it deserves.
Judge Goldstone said that “I am delighted that I will attend the barmitzvah of my grandson.””
The fact that the incident has been a PR disaster for the leadership of the Jewish community, particularly the chief rabbi, is why the Board of Deputies is requesting that we Jewish progressives desist in our criticism of the leadership. The fact that they attempt to exploit the grandson’s simcha and its supposed “privacy and dignity” in order to stop further criticism only reinforces their utter hypocrisy. They, of course, weren’t above destroying the boy’s happiness by keeping his grandpa away from the simcha previously. I don’t mind political debates or disagreement. But using a 12 year old boy as a shield from legitimate criticism is shameful.
So I want this leadership to know that if they do something like this again in the future (you see, bullies usually do revert to form unless they understand there will be a consequence for their behavior), there will be others watching them and ready to call their behavior what it is.
A round of thanks once again to Rabbis Lynn Gottlieb, Brant Rosen and Brian Walt for the statement, and to Nathan Geffen of Open Shuhada Street for joining me in this effort for Jewish reason and decency.
As I quoted Archbishop Tutu in a post last night, “love is stronger than hate.” Sometimes it is. Since the Kamm-Blau affair I’ve been deeply impressed by the power of progressive online media to break through the secrecy and hate and lay a marker down for decency and human respect. We truly can at times circumvent the barriers that these forces erect to maintain their power and we can pose an alternative that is reasonable. And when that happens, we can win the day. Amazing to think that this is possible.
One last note: Judge Goldstone in no way encouraged, orchestrated or took any role in our activities. We were motivated by nothing he did or wrote and wholly by the outrageous behavior of the South African leadership.
19 thoughts on “South African Jewry Relents, Invites Goldstone to Grandson’s Bar Mitzvah – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم”
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It’s wonderful to read this! Thank you!
The 10 commandments have been replaced with “Israel, right or wrong”. How apt. Jonathan Shapiro published an entertaining etiquette guide to the synagogue in cartoon form but this one is simply brilliant!
If, in South Africa, the Jewish establishment will allow a Jewish man (after a temporary, few days, side-track) to attend his own grandson’s bar mitzvah,
how long (how long, O! Lord!) until, in South Africa (after a less temporary, 60-years side-track, presumably) that same South African Jewish establishment will allow that same Jewish grandfather (and others) to examine what Israel does and to describe it, publicly and fairly according to universal (and, one hopes with some misgivings also according to Jewish) standards of legality, decency, etc.?
That cartoon is priceless, with the commandments being “Israel right or wrong”!
I love the irony in all this; I love that everyone who tried to bar Goldstone and humiliate him now have egg all over their faces and are the ones humiliated!
When justice triumphs I’m happy!
It is reassuring to see that public and media backlash to blatant political/cultural arm-twisting still has the power to reverse decisions in Zionist Jewish circles around the world. Within Israel, such influence is no longer possible, and any sane opposition is eventually rendered irrelevant by nationalistic accusations.
A RELEVANT FACEBOOK GROUP
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are you also against the world wide cherem that has been placed on the members of the neturai karta, which was done after they attended the holocaust deniers conference in iran?
Neturei Karta are a complicated case. Originally, many haredi Jews were anti-Zionist (going back to the beginning of the century). Now, only a very small minority including Neturei Karta, are. Naturally, I don’t share their religious views. And I don’t share their views about Israel either. But as for putting them in herem, that’s ridiculous. Whoever did this should have their heads examined.
Mazeltov, Richard! Nice work.
It would appear that Goldstones’ record is not so clean after all.
As an apartheid judge he not only sentenced a number of blacks to death, he also wrote a ruling that stated:
“The murder calls for the maximum sentence allowed by the law. It follows in my opinion that on that account the only proper sentence is the death sentence.
A proper sentence should act as a deterrent to others who may be tempted to murder or rob defenseless and innocent people.”
Oh my lord. A judge sentenced someone to death. How odd! How horrible! Gee, I thought that’s what judges were supposed to do esp. when a nation’s legal system allow capital punishment. Besides, we have no citation, no link. We don’t know whether this is a legitimate quotation, when the words were written, what the case if there was one, was about. We know nothing. So excuse me for saying that you utterly lack credibility. But nice try. Only try harder next time.
Oh, & just in case you actually want to read a proper article that places the subject in proper context, why don’t you go read Akiva Eldar? And what, you don’t think Alan Dershowitz or even Elie Wiesel, if they were Supreme Court justices would do the same as Goldstone did?
Thanks you for that most tolerant reply. I assume you are familiar with the term Dan le Kav schut? If we strive to make the world a better place we are asked to Judge others favorably. Your beef with Wiesel and Desh seems to be a knee jerk reaction to anything said against saint Goldstone.
As a South African I have had a problem with Goldstone for a while, primarily due to his findings of the Goldstone commission (the one from South Africa in the 90’s).
I’m still working his latest report.
I was expecting a more understating tone from you, someone whose blog is supposed to bring about tikkun loam.
I guess your “Tikkun” is reserved to those who agree with you.
I respond to commenters according to the tone & content that they bring here. Just because you didn’t curse or rant or rave doesn’t mean I automatically treat you like my long lost brother. There is an international hasbara campaign to blacken the name of Richard Goldstone. Those who wish to advance the goals of this campaign, whether intentionally or not, as you have done, will receive the full light of scrutiny and skepticism. My response should tell you to re-examine yr assumptions & sources before going farther down this road. Otherwise, your position will not be credible.
Goldstone is not saint. No human being is. I don’t even know him personally. But he’s a helluva lot closer to sainthood than the scum like Dersh & the hasbara machine who are smearing his name. So yes I give him the benefit of the doubt unless he proves unworthy of it. Your “evidence” is pathetic & proves nothing other than that as a judge he followed the law of the land though disagreeing strongly w. it. No judge who rejects the law of the land in practice should be a judge. Do you understand that legal principle?
yep, I understand, he was just following orders…
What ignorance. He was a judge, not a solider. A judge has a set of laws he is bound to uphold. That’s the way the law works. BTW, I haven’t noticed you complaining about our own Supreme Court which routinely upholds executions. Have you protested this? Written to the justices asking them why they “just follow orders?” If not you’re an atrocious hypocrite. Are you, or aren’t you?
So it was Okay for Goldstone to uphold the apartheid laws “He was a judge, not a solider”?
The policemen/soldiers who carried out the laws upheld by goldstone are worse?
Are you really saying that it was Okay for Goldstone to convict someone for say… Sleeping with a member of a different race, or using a white’s only bathroom?
This is your fourth or fifth time saying virtually the same thing each time. You’re done in this thread. Comment on something else. Do not reply again in this thread. This isn’t a forum for those who like the sound of their own voice/comments repeated over & over again.
Maybe someone should help out Zapiro… and its not the Zionist who are calling for his death…
You clearly think Judaism & Israel is in a war to the death with Islam. You’re welcome to your little strange fantasy. Perhaps you & radical Muslims have more in common w. ea. other than you think. You’re ea. prepared for religious holy war. I say hands off my religion, which doesn’t seek or pursue holy wars against any other religion. If you want to fight a war w. Islam go right ahead, but not under the banner of Judaism. You don’t own my religion. Perhaps you should call your religion Judeaism in collaboration w. all the other Judeans in the Occupied Territories who also are inciting such a holy war against Islam.