A local Jewish student at the King David Victory Park High School (KDVP) has sparked a heated online debate, after posting a picture to Facebook in which he and two other students showed their support for the oppressed in Gaza.
Josh Broomberg, an Honours student and the deputy head boy at KDVP, is pictured with two fellow members of the South African National Debating team, donning Palestinian attire. The picture was accompanied by the caption: “Team South Africa wearing Palestinian badges and Keffiyehs to show our opposition to the human rights violations carried out against the people of Palestine.”
The picture has provoked massive uproar within the South African Zionist community, with a petition emerging to have Broomberg stripped of his title as deputy head-boy, as well as the revoking of his Honours.
Initiated by a group under the banner ‘Concerned Zionists’, the petition was addressed to the headmaster at the King David High School, as well as the general director of the South African Jewish Board of Education (SABJE). It suggested that by posting the picture, Bloomberg was in contravention of a mandatory contract signed with the school, aimed at protecting its ethos and heritage. The petition has so far garnered over 2000 signatures.
“We therefore as a joint entity, humbly request, firstly that in accordance with the contract, Broomberg be removed from his position in office as deputy head-boy and further be removed from the SRC. We secondly, humbly request, that in accordance with KDVP’s revised disciplinary procedure that Broomberg have his Honours revoked,” read the petition.
However, that has provoked a counter petition opposing the suggested removal. The petition commended the schools decision to appoint Bloomberg as deputy head-boy, noting that he showed “true leadership and humanitarian qualities”.
“We oppose wholeheartedly the suggestion by ‘Concerned Zionists’ that you consider the removal of Joshua Broomberg’s leadership positions and honours,” the petition read.
“We believe his courage and intentions should be encouraged and championed as actions such as these brought South Africa out of the Apartheid era. In our opinion his actions do not in any way impact negatively on the image or reputation of the school.”
The counter petition has received over 3000 signatures.
Broomberg, who describes himself as a Zionist, responded to the criticism via a Facebook post, admitting the picture had not been meant to offend anybody.
However, he defended the stand he and his fellow students had taken, insisting the issue was not about politics, but rather the human aspect of the crisis. He said they would stand with the thousands of civilians who had lost loved ones as a result of the conflict.
“We stand with a people who do not yet have a state to protect themselves. We stand with the innocents. We stand for two states. We do not stand against Israel. All of this applies to me personally as well,” read Broomberg’s statement.
He added the stance had been taken despite his love and belief in the state of Israel, and that the criticism should not be viewed as a betrayal, but rather an ‘honest and true way’ to show his patriotism for Israel.
“I believe in Israel’s right to exist, and her right to defend herself from the threat presented by those seeking to hurt her citizens. All citizens of Israel, the West Bank and Gaza have the absolute right to live in peace and security,” he said.
The SABJE had responded to the issue, saying they had noted the incident, and the matter was currently being dealt with by the school.
The petitions can be found via the link: https://www.change.org/search?q=josh+broomberg. VOC (Mubeen Banderker)