Monday, February 2, 2009

Top South African Jews Slam Gaza Attack

Mail & Guardian Online (South Africa), February 1, 2009 - Nobel laureate Nadine Gordimer, former chief justice Arthur Chaskalson and world-renowned artist William Kentridge are among several high-profile South African Jews who have signed a declaration describing Israel's recent attack on Gaza as "inhumane and disproportionate".

The 11 signatories also include actor Sir Antony Sher, photographer David Goldblatt, Supreme Court of Appeal Judge Carole Lewis; Competition Appeal Court president Judge Dennis Davis, mining boss Rick Menell, prominent advocates Geoff Budlender, Gilbert Marcus and Jules Browde and author Gillian Slovo.

The signatories condemn Hamas's firing of rockets at Israeli settlements but identify themselves with another petition signed by 300 South African Jews earlier this month in response to the endorsement of the Gaza attack by the Jewish Board of Deputies, the South African Zionist Federation and Chief Rabbi Warren Goldstein.

That petition warned that the Gaza conflict "is likely to inflame feelings in the region, holding out little prospect for peace".

The latest declaration says: "We consider Israel's response which has caused widespread death, destruction and suffering in Gaza to be inhumane and disproportionate."

It adds: "It is critically important that these recent events [in Gaza] do not imperil relations between sectors of South African society, and that people of all faiths and none engage with the issues at stake rationally, in good conscience."

It coincides with a move by concerned South African Jews to dissuade local Jewish youths from joining the Israel Defence Force (IDF).

The call is part of a growing demand by Palestinian sympathisers to investigate the role of South African Jews in the IDF.....

Reacting, Jewish Board of Deputies chairperson Zev Krengel claimed that the majority of South Africa's Jews were solidly behind Israel, saying: "We are proud of the freedom of speech in our community and are quite comfortable about [the signatories'] stance."

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