Politico-religious fanatics disrupt family simcha

April 17, 2010

UN Photo/Jean-Marc FerreUpdate 2 (Saturday 1215 BST)  Open Shuhada Street (A South African Jewish group fighting the closure of Hebron and supporting anti-occupation groups) shows how the SAZF are desperately – and falsely – trying to clear their name. The SA Globe & Mail reports that Richard Goldstone has been “cleared” to attend – by the SAZF.  Avram “Mr Sensitive” Krengel, chair of the SAZF said there was discussion – but of course cannot explain with any decency why the SAZF thought it had the right to enter into discussions about the Bar Mitzvah arrangements in the first place.

Original post: Mixing politics and religious doctrine almost always produces a toxic brew, whatever the faith involved. As if to demonstrate the truth of this maxim beyond any reasonable doubt, the South African Zionist Federation has effectively banned – downloadable PDF, article on p3 – Judge Richard Goldstone from attending the Bar Mitzvah of his grandson. The campaign of vilification Goldstone experienced over his investigation into Operation Cast Lead was revolting, but now his critics seek to plumb new depths. There were plans for a demonstration outside the synagogue during the service. Richard Silverstein puts it well when he suggests these people should “call themselves something other than Jews”. Jerry Haber – showing magnanimity – feels sorry for the “heresy hunters and the pusillanimous cowards who caved in to them.”

Indeed, it is hard not to feel sad when someone asserts that they “think (the agreement) was quite a sensible thing to avert all this unpleasantness.” That was the opinion of the head of the SA Beth Bin (religious court) Rabbi Moshe Kurstag. Just as sickening are the words of the SAZF chair, Avrom Krengel who made the breath taking claim: “We understand that there’s a barmitzvah boy involved — we’re very sensitive to the issues.”

“Sensitive to the issues?” What was the SAZF doing getting involved in the first place, in a celebration where they had precisely NO relevance? “Sensible?” That’s a euphemism for “we collapsed in the face of inexcusable political extremism.”

There’s coverage all over the web on this. You might like to contact the South African Zionist Federation to let them know just how low they have sunk. Former president of South Africa’s Constitutional Court Arthur Chaskalson offers a pithy suggestion: “If … 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.

Update (Friday 1400 BST): Miriam Shaviv, comment editor of the JC understands the SAZF action and is unimpressed by the SA Board of Deputies damage limitation attempts. You may or may not be surprised to hear that the UK ZF does not, with Jonathan Hoffman both defending their intervention and at the same time more or less contradicting himself by saying Goldstone’s decision was his alone. Keith Kahn-Harris Twittered his relief that so many people feel the decision is offensive even if they disagreed with Goldstone’s conclusions over Cast Lead. But no one has shown any relevance between the report and the Bar Mitzvah. Not surprising, as there isn’t one, which is what reduces all the ad hominem reasoning and ‘cherem‘ references to an intellectual (and maybe gastric, too) emetic.

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