Finally, there is good news. We just got a call from Noleen Goldstone telling us that the leadership of rabbis of South Africa, previously quite condemning of Richard and suggesting that threatening conditions might exist if he attended his grandson’s bar mitzvah in Johannesburg in early May, have relented. They have told him that he is free to participate in the event and that there will be no demonstrations against him inside or outside the synagogue.
As you can imagine, the Goldstones are delighted at this turn of events. Most importantly, the bar mitzvah will be held in a peaceful atmosphere. Given the great hostility visited upon Richard, perhaps this change in attitude can also be the beginning of a reasonable discussion about the meaning of his report on the war in Gaza – a discussion that will rely on finding solutions for the problems described in the report rather than on rejecting it out of hand. We can hope.
Two interesting developments took place before the South African rabbis announced their new stance:
First, this open letter to Judge Goldstone signed by many rabbis, most of them from the U.S. and Israel.
And this cartoon from today’s Mail & Guardian, a newspaper and news website in South Africa.
Betty Medsger is a former Berkeley resident who has taught journalism at San Franciso State and New York University.