Yom Ha’atzmaut concert: ‘Stop the JNF’ endorsed outside demonstration
The events around this year’s Yom Ha’atzmaut concert at Gold Reef City were certainly out of the ordinary. A public demonstration outside the venue raised some fundamental issues relating to Israel/Palestine relations; and a non-violent but direct intervention by several pro-Palestinian activists proclaiming Israel an “apartheid state” took place inside the venue itself. This intervention was met by a physical response from the CSO and a number of Zionist Fed office-bearers and has resulted in assault charges being laid against them by the protesters.
Taking all this into account, Stop the JNF endorsed and participated in the outdoor demonstration seeing it as a call for Israel to embrace a negotiated settlement based on the historic compromises both peoples have to make in order to achieve a just peace.
Enough bloodshed has taken place, enough vicious rhetoric has been ventilated, enough economic misery has blighted the lives of millions of people in the region. Our Jewish heritage instructs us to reject the sword as an exclusive means to achieve security; history shows that those who rely purely on military means, inevitably fail and
bring great suffering to themselves and to those they seek to control.
On this basis we call on Jewish South Africans to exert pressure on the Israeli leadership to heed the international consensus and reopen substantive talks with the Palestinian parties. It is highly significant that soon after Barack Obama’s historic speech to Israeli youth in Jerusalem (urging them to be bold in pursuit of peace and to recognise the rights of Palestinians) that over 100 mainstream American Jewish leaders endorsed this vision and likewise urged the Israeli government to respond favourably.
We certainly hope that Israel’s leadership does not continue to drag out the current stalemate – one that will surely lead to further wars and to the intensification of Israel’s isolation. In terms of South Africa’s own negotiated settlement we
should bear in mind that Nelson Mandela and other ANC leaders were for decades demonised as “terrorists” and antidemocratic “communists” before Afrikaner nationalism and white racism bowed to the inevitable.
On a final note, we would like to state that we support freedom of expression and assembly for all individuals and groups, no matter their opinions. In this sense we are strong supporters of the SA Bill of Rights and our constitutional guarantees. We furthermore condemn all violence as a response to the exercise of freedom of expression. Such responses only breed more violence.
Tzedek, tzedek tirdof! Let us above all seek justice.
Spokesman for StopTheJNF