In the interest of avoiding a disruption of his grandson’s bar mitzvah in South Africa, Judge Richard Goldstone, author of the Goldstone Report on the 2009 Gaza conflict, told JTA that he would not attend the family simcha in May at a Johannesburg synagogue.
But in case Goldstone has any second thoughts, a leading South African Jewish group announced it is ready to protest should he show up.
“We’ll exercise our constitutional right to protest,” the chairman of the South African Zionist Federation, Avrom Krengel, told the Cape Times on April 19.
Goldstone, a respected Jewish jurist from South Africa, has been persona non grata with some in the pro-Israel community since the release of his United Nations report on the Gaza conflict. His investigation found that both Israel and Hamas had committed war crimes in the three-week conflict, but there were much fewer complaints against Hamas than against Israel. Pro-Israel groups have roundly condemned the report as dangerously one-sided, and it has helped fuel international condemnation of Israel.
Following negotiations between the Zionist federation and Beth Hamedrash Hagadol, the synagogue hosting the bar mitzvah service, Goldstone said in mid-April, “In the interests of my grandson, I’ve decided not to attend the ceremony at the synagogue.”
Krengel stressed that Goldstone had not been barred from the bar mitzvah, but that he would not be welcomed if he chose to attend.
“We understand that there’s a bar mitzvah boy involved,” Krengel told JTA. “We’re very sensitive to the issues, and at this stage there’s nothing further to say.”