The last thing you might expect at a scholarly lecture on the Jewish experience in apartheid South Africa is suspense. But there it was.
Gideon Shimoni, a professor emeritus at The Hebrew University and the author of “Community and Conscience: The Jews in Apartheid South Africa,” spoke at New York’s Jewish Museum on May 13 to unravel the conundrum that Jews — so often the victims of religious persecution — were privileged members of the ruling white minority during the apartheid era from 1948 to 1994.
The lecture was part of programming the museum developed in connection with the exhibition “South African Photographs: David Goldblatt.” Two earlier lectures by the art historian Richard Turnbull have focused on Jacob Riis and Lewis Hine and the rise of social documentary photography. The final lecture, on Goldblatt, took place on May 17.
A South African Jew who settled in Israel in 1961, Shimoni is a powerful speaker, unafraid to challenge conventional wisdom including the belief among some Jews that we, as frequent victims of persecution, stand up for the underdog.