02 February 2009

Israeli Attacks on Gaza: A Letter from South Africa

This letter appeared in The Times (South Africa) yesterday:
We are aware of the public debate that has taken place among members of the South African Jewish community on the use of military force by Israel in Gaza, and the articles and correspondence in the South African media about this issue.

As South African Jews, we wish to identify with the sentiments expressed in the statement by more than 300 South African Jews, entitled 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, condemning the excessive force that has been used by Israel.

While we unreservedly condemn the firing of rockets at Israeli towns by Hamas, we consider Israel’s response to be inhumane and disproportionate.

One thousand three hundred Palestinian residents of Gaza and 13 Israelis have already lost their lives in a conflict that is likely to inflame feelings in the region and holds out little prospect for peace.

It is critically important that these recent events do not imperil relations among sectors of South African society, and vital that people of all faiths and none engage with the issues at stake rationally, in good conscience and with due regard for international law, including international human rights law.

We fervently hope that the recent ceasefire will hold, that obstacles to a lasting peace in the region will be removed, and that negotiations now take place with the necessary political will of all the parties concerned to secure a just and lasting peace.

Justice Arthur Chaskalson
Jules Browde SC
Dr Selma Browde
Geoff Budlender SC
David Goldblatt
Nadine Gordimer
William Kentridge
Justice Carole Lewis
Gilbert Marcus SC
Professor Gill Marcus
Rick Menell
Sir Antony Sher
Gillian Slovo
Dr AnnMarie Wolpe

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