The destruction in Gaza: Dissent in the Jewish community

Response by members of SA Jewish community to statement by the Chief Rabbi and SAJBD et al, January 11 2009

The following response to statement on Gaza by the Jewish Board of Deputies (et al.) had 89 signatories as of Sunday afternoon. They include the following prominent people: Max Price (VC of UCT), Anton Harber (journalist), Jonathan Shapiro (cartoonist), Jonny Steinberg (author), Graeme Bloch (activist), Andrew Feinstein (former MP), Deborah Posel (academic), and Lael Bethlehem (CEO of the Johannesburg Development Agency.) The original statement and the names of the signatories can be found here.

Response by members of the South African Jewish community to a statement by the Jewish Board of Deputies, Zionist Federation and Chief Rabbi concerning Israel's attack on Gaza, January 11 2009

The Jewish Board of Deputies, Zionist Federation and Chief Rabbi have issued a statement titled "South African Jewish Community on the Situation in Gaza" (see here). It claims that the "South African Jewish Community firmly supports the decision of the Government of Israel to launch a military operation against Hamas in the Gaza Strip."

We are members of the South African Jewish Community. While we recognise the existence of communal structures, we are distressed that they purport to speak for us and the many Jews who are uncomfortable with the destruction in Gaza, claiming one collective view for the entire community. Given the divergence of opinion within the community, their approach is irresponsible and we are forced to respond.

We are dismayed by the disproportionate use of force by the Israeli military in Gaza. So far over 750 Palestinians and 13 Israelis have been killed. Many of the Palestinian casualties are civilians -- unarmed and uninvolved in any operations against Israel. We deplore all the lives lost whether in Sderot or Gaza. We are acutely aware that while parts of Southern Israel have lived under the constant threat of Hamas rockets, the residents of Gaza are experiencing significantly greater terror and destruction.

We strongly oppose the rockets Hamas has been firing into Israel before and during this bombardment. These have deliberately targeted civilians and we call on communities and groups vocal in their support for the Palestinians to condemn these, as we do.

As members of the Jewish community we recognise that Israel's response is an inhumane and disproportionate collective punishment prohibited under international law. We also condemn the long siege Israel has inflicted on the people of Gaza and call for this to be immediately lifted to allow food, medical supplies, fuel, electricity and foreign aid to reach credible agencies in Gaza.

We call for an immediate ceasefire by both sides and lifting of the siege of Gaza. We also recognise that Gaza's fate, in the minds of Palestinians and in reality, cannot be severed from the West Bank and that ending the occupation in the West Bank is a critical part of resolving tensions in the region.

Reaching a negotiated settlement between Israelis and Palestinians is an extremely difficult challenge as it is and the attack on Gaza moves us further away from this goal. We also call on the Jewish Board of Deputies not to exacerbate local tensions with statements that demonstrate a lack of compassion for Palestinian lives.


  1. Nathan Geffen
  2. Doron Isaacs
  3. Leah Abramsohn
  4. Jane Arthur
  5. Vanessa Barolsky
  6. Sheila Basel
  7. Sam Beckbessinger
  8. Keren Ben-Zeev
  9. Jonathan Berger
  10. Kim Berman
  11. Lael Bethlehem
  12. Graeme Bloch
  13. Bradley Bordiss
  14. Joel Bregman
  15. Daniel Browde
  16. Emma Browde
  17. Steven Budlender
  18. Tali Cassidy
  19. Jared Chaitowitz
  20. Ivor Chipkin
  21. Viv Cohen
  22. Liat Davis
  23. Gordon Driver
  24. Erika Elk
  25. Daniel Eppel
  26. Merle Favis
  27. Judy Favish
  28. Andrew Feinstein
  29. Joe Fine
  30. Meghan Finn
  31. Roslyn Fish
  32. Adrian Friedman
  33. Michel Friedman
  34. Shelagh Gastrow
  35. Ingrid Gavshon
  36. Tessa Frootko Gordon
  37. Harris Gordon
  38. Lara Granville
  39. Anton Harber
  40. Jesse Harber
  41. Joey Hasson
  42. Rebecca Hodes
  43. Anthony Hodgson
  44. Timothy Fish Hodgson
  45. Jonathan Hoffenberg
  46. Suzanne Hotz
  47. Gilad Isaacs
  48. Maureen Isaacson
  49. Michel Joffe
  50. Elle Katzeff
  51. Skye Katzeff
  52. David Kaplan
  53. Tessa de Kock
  54. Emma Levy
  55. Leon Levy
  56. Lorna Levy
  57. Lynne Lomofsky
  58. Daniel Mackintosh
  59. Lauren Niedel
  60. Colin Purkey
  61. Jeremy Raizon
  62. Steven Robins
  63. Philip Krause
  64. Robert Krause
  65. Deborah Posel
  66. Max Price
  67. Jessica Price
  68. Ariella Raucher
  69. Maxine Reitzes
  70. Jeff Rudin
  71. Charlotte Schaer
  72. Kira Schlesinger
  73. Minky Schlesinger
  74. Julia Shapiro
  75. Leonard Shapiro
  76. Yvonne Shapiro
  77. Rosemary Shapiro-Liu
  78. Jessica Sherman
  79. Gavin Silber
  80. Melinda Silverman
  81. Jonny Steinberg
  82. Brett Steingo
  83. Eitan Stern
  84. John Stodel
  85. Carly Tanur
  86. Tara Weinberg
  87. Sean Wasserman
  88. Zapiro
  89. Kelly Zimbler