/ 24 April 2010

Goldstone ‘delighted’ to be attending bar mitzvah

Former Constitutional Court Judge Richard Goldstone, who chaired a United Nations report accusing Israel of war crimes in Gaza, would attend his grandson’s bar mitzvah in Johannesburg next month, the SA Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) said on Friday evening.

“It was confirmed that Judge Goldstone would attend his grandson’s bar mitzvah and that there would be no protests associated with the bar mitzvah,” said SAJBD director Wendy Kahn.

“The SAJBD respectfully requests, in light of the agreement reached, that all parties immediately desist all public activities on this matter so that the young man’s bar mitzvah celebration can be returned to the privacy and dignity that it deserves.”

The agreement for Goldstone to attend the ceremony was reached after consultation between several parties, a statement said.

Goldstone said he was “delighted” that he would be attending the ceremony.

The SA Zionist Federation (SAZF) and the Beth Hamedrash Hagadol in Sandton were reported to have barred Goldstone from the synagogue service after an outcry over his criticism of the Israeli military in the Goldstone Report.

The Goldstone Report on the Israel Defence Force’s offensive into Gaza in 2008/09 accused both Israeli Defence Forces and Palestinian militants of war crimes and possible crimes against humanity.

It recommended that the sides openly investigate their own conduct and should they fail to do so, the allegations be brought to the International Criminal Court.

The Israeli government rejected the report, saying it was prejudiced and full of errors.

The report was met with widespread hostility by the South African Jewish Community.

On Friday, Kahn said the board agreed that a meeting would take place between Goldstone and the leadership of the SAZF and other Jewish community representatives.

“At the meeting the Jewish community’s response to the report of the commission chaired by Judge Goldstone last year will be discussed and he will give his perspectives on the issue.” – Sapa