Friday, April 16, 2010

South Africans back-pedal furiously on Judge Goldstone

Oh dear. The South African Jewish leadership has apparently only just realised how pressuring Richard Goldstone into missing his grandson's barmitzvah was going to play out in the wider community, and has scrambled into damage-limitation mode. Unfortunately, the letter being circulated by the SA Jewish Board of Deputies just does not do the job:

Dear Community Member

It has been widely reported in the media that Judge Richard Goldstone has been barred from attending his grandson's barmitzvah as a result of pressure from certain sectors of the Jewish leadership. While it has not been involved in this matter, the SA Jewish Board of Deputies was concerned that it would turn into a divisive issue within the Jewish community, and has therefore carefully investigated it to establish the correct facts.

What has emerged is that, contrary to what many media reports alleged, at no time was Judge Goldstone prohibited from, or even requested, not to attend the barmitzvah ceremony by any organisation or individual. Rather, this was a decision voluntarily taken by the Goldstone family and the other respective parties. Certain senior Jewish communal and religious leaders were certainly involved in the discussions around the topic, but in no way did they attempt to dictate to or otherwise pressurize the family into arriving at their decision.

Unfortunately, the matter is being widely misrepresented and misunderstood. To assist us in forestalling any further unpleasantness, we would appreciate it if you could circulate this communiqué to others who you think will be interested.

The SAJBD strongly believes that diversity of opinion in our community needs to be tolerated and respected, whether it emanates from the left, right or centre. At the same time, the right to freedom of expression needs at all times to be exercised with sensitivity, with due regard to the appropriateness of the forum and occasion. Taking into account, with due sensitivity and understanding, the feelings of others goes a long way towards preventing unnecessary conflict.

Wishing you all a Shabbat Shalom.

Zev Krengel

National chairman

Oh, come on. The family didn't just decide that he wouldn't be attending "voluntarily" - why were there "discussions around the topic" if there was no suggestion that he would be made to feel seriously unwelcome? This is completely disingenuous.

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