"Stop the JNF South Africa" is part of the South African BDS movement. My response to a recent post in the Mail & Guardian
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“The temptation is to speak in muffled tones about an issue such as the right of the people of Palestine… yet we would be less than human if we did so”
– Nelson R. Mandela
As Jews, with our own painful history of oppression, we are compelled to speak out against human rights violations committed by Israel In our name, against the Palestinian people.
We note that the South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) and South African Zionist Federation (SAZF) recent met with the presidency We also note with great concern that the SAJBD’s and SAZF’s assertation that they represent and speak on behalf of all Jewish South Africans.
We also note with great concern that the SAJBD’s and SAZF’s assertation that they represent and speak on behalf of all Jewish South Africans We also note with great concern that the SAJBD’s and SAZF’s assertation that they represent and speak on behalf of all Jewish South Africans.
The Jewish community is neither homogeneous nor monolithic. There is a growing number of Jews, in SA and around the world who are organising to form alternative spaces and who unconditionally oppose Israeli policies and practices that shamefully privilege Jews over the indigenous Palestinian people.
In this vein, we support the non-violent campaign of applying Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel until it abides by … international law and respects basic human rights.
We are encouraged that SA is joining those countries that are taking a clear stance against Israel’s violations of international law…and its acts of violence against the Palestinan people. We also welcome and support our Department of Trade and Industry’s initiative to prevent the false labeling of Israeli settlement products.
We hope that the ANC and the SA government goes further and completely bans Israeli settlement products. Israeli settlements are in clear violation of international law and seriously undermine any chance of negotiations and a just peace.
Such positions as those recently taken by our government against Israeli violence and violations of international law, in fact, serve to affirm a proud Jewish tradition of respect for justice and human rights; regardless of race, religion or creed. Such positions connect us to our fellow humanity.
We humbly – and sadly – acknowledge that our voices may not be the dominant ones in our community, but neither were Dietrich Bonnhoefer’s in Nazi Germany nor Beyers Naude’s, Antjie Krog’s, Braam Fischer’s and Joe Slovo’s in Apartheid South Africa.
Our individual consciences, our Jewish tradition and our painful history compel us to declare to the SAJBD, SAZF and to the Israeli government that we will continue to speak out and take a stand for justice and human rights. Taking such a stand is in the very interests of being Jewish. For when we proclaim “Never Again”, we should mean “Never Again”, unconditionally, and to any human being – including the Palestinians.
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"It is crystal clear to me that if the Arabs put down a draft resolution blaming Israel for the recent earthquake in Iran it would probably have majority, the US would veto it and Britain and France would abstain" - Amos Oz
We note that Jewish history and tradition encourages debate, pluralism and free speech; in fact a large percentage of our teachings are based on civil debate and dissent. We also note that nowhere in our Jewish history is the indiscriminate employment of anti-Semitic elements endorsed or encouraged to bring about or work for change within any society or culture.
Let us be clear, the Jewish people, its representatives and recently the State of Israel, have always provided platforms for respectable debate and discourse. While the quest for change is admirable when fuelled by pure motives and convictions, the quest becomes repugnant when deceit and fraudulence are enlisted to justify bias, bigotry and immorality.
We are encouraged that Israel is a bastion of democracy, free speech and human rights. We are encouraged by the respect shown for Israel’s justice system by many nations and statesmen, despite the deafening silence of apologists whose illegitimate call for the delegitimization and destruction of Israel overshadow acute human disasters elsewhere in the world.
We humbly - and sadly – acknowledge that the "Stop the JNF" movement has no call for Israel's rights, rewrites a twisted history and willingly adopts every morsel of baseless hate, presented by people committed to tyranny and terror. We sadly acknowledge the movement's preference to "spit in the well" and alienation from the SAZF and SABD in favour of violence under the banner of human rights. Sadly the turncoat history lesson was missed by all the absent signatories.
Our individual consciences, our Jewish tradition and painful history compel us to fight for universal justice, and specifically for our Jewish and national rights to self-determination. 'Never again' is part of our painful history, and we will speak up against those whoring it with hollow calls on the bandwagon of false protest alongside the wolves. 'Never again' will we let those who are too weak to work for change from within dictate to us; not as 'Jews from other spaces'; not from the arena of disinformation; not from behind the screen of digital anonymity; and not through activism which finds legitimacy in targeting Jewish businesses in South Africa.
The list of signatories is available on request.