Every so often events like this happen which make me ashamed to be a Jew. Or I should say, ashamed to share a religion with biryonim (“hooligans”) like the ones I’m about to portray.
Justice Richard Goldstone, author of the UN report on Operation Cast Lead, was expecting to travel back to his home in South African to share in the nachas of his grandson’s bar mitzvah. Not so fast. The South African Zionist Federation (SAZF) got wind of this and decided they’d make a huge stink. They threatened to picket outside the shul DURING the bar mitzvah. As a result, the machers of the community got together and did one of those great back-room deals. To preserve shalom bayit they arrived at what they called a “sensible agreement” which disinvited Goldstone from his own grandson’s simcha.
This man who is a child of South African Jewry, whose courage helped transform South Africa’s apartheid system in one of democratic rule, one of the world’s most distinguished international jurists, and a fearless champion of human rights and justice, is persona non grata in his own Jewish community. They want to diss a Jew who does their community proud by having had an affiliation with it? What have these people come to? What sort of Judaism is this? Who ever said that politics should trump religion? Do these people even care about religious values? Do they know what it means to be a Jew?
Of course they don’t have a religion in that sense because their real religion is Israel. How else to explain that they are willing to cut off their noses to spite their face in this way? I am sorry but these Jews make a laughingstock of my religion. If they want to do this fine, but let them call themselves something other than Jews. Perhaps Judeans would be more appropriate since they’re far more likely to support settlers and their friends in the current government.
This is the voice of a barely concealed hooligan and hypocrite to boot, not a Jewish leader in the true sense of the word:
Avrom Krengel, chairman of the SAZF, said: “We understand there’s a barmitzvah boy involved – we’re very sensitive to the issues; at this stage there’s nothing further to say.” While Krengel said the SAZF had “interacted” on the matter with the chief rabbi, the Beth Din and others, his organisation was “coming across most forcefully because we represent Israel”.
And this, I’m sorry to say is actually the voice of a South African rabbi, Rosh Beth Din Rabbi Moshe Kurtstag:
“I think [the agreement] was quite a sensible thing to avert all this unpleasantness.”
Unpleasantness indeed. The only thing unpleasant here is the stench rising from this pile of manure which he calls a “sensible agreement.”
I repeat, this is not Judaism. This is mean-spirited, atavistic tribalism. And of course it has been blessed not just by South Africa’s chief rabbi, but likely by the Israeli government (or perhaps instigated by it), which has been on the warpath against Goldstone for many months.
When you watch politics as long as I have you understand that there is a point at which your opponent gets a bad case of hubris and overextends himself. Bush did it. You know when this happens that pride goes before a fall. These Jews have done precisely that. I hope there will be a backlash by reasonable-minded rabbis and Jews throughout the world. If these Jews want to be a)&holes, gesund a heit. But not in my name.
To their credit, some of Goldstone’s South African Jewish colleagues have come to his defense:
Mr Justice Dennis Davis said…he assumed that pressure had been brought to bear on the family. “If that assumption is correct, then it is outrageous because it seeks to place a ban on somebody participating in his grandson’s barmitzvah.
“Have we now got to the point that because we don’t like what somebody says or does, we place a ‘cherem’ on them? What right do we have to do that? I would like to add that people who are gleeful about it must remember what Pastor Niemoller said: ‘Who will speak up for them when they are finally excommunicated for some misdemeanor?’”
Retired president of the Constitutional Court, Mr Justice Arthur Chaskalson said it was “disgraceful” to put pressure on a grandfather not to attend his grandson’s barmitzvah.
“If it is correct that this has the blessing of the leadership of the Jewish community in South Africa, it reflects on them rather than on Justice Goldstone. They should hang their heads in shame.”
H/t Didi Remez (font of amazing story tips!).