With the conflict in Gaza worsening by the day and civilian casualties increasing at an alarming rate, a group of local Jews have taken it upon themselves to launch a petition urging Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu to immediately end the state’s military bombardment of the Gaza Strip.
The ‘South African Jews Against the War in Gaza’ petition has already attracted the signatures of a number of prominent Jewish locals, including former ANC MP, Andrew Feinstein. As the son of a Holocaust survivor, he stressed the importance of Jews being more aware of the oppression against those in the occupied Palestinian territories, particularly as a result of their own sufferings in Nazi Germany.
In his view, there were two dimensions to the current conflict in Gaza in relation to the atrocities of the Holocaust. The first was the view of a Harvard academic by the name of Sarah Roy, who said the Jewish memory of the Holocaust had failed in one critical respect, which was “it’s exclusion of the reality of Palestinian suffering and Jewish culpability for that suffering”.
“As a people she says, we have been unable to link the creation of Israel with the displacement of Palestinians. We’ve been unwilling to see, let alone remember that finding the place of Jews in Israel, meant the loss of the place of Palestinians,” he explained.
The second dimension, according to Feinstein, was the manner in which the Jewish population needed to respond to all forms of suffering and oppression. He believed the best way for Jews to honour and remember those lives lost during the Holocaust, was to ensure that such atrocities were never again committed.
He called on all South Africans of the Jewish faith to respond to the Israeli aggression against the people of Gaza, which he believed involved numerous international war crimes and crimes against humanity. He urged them to sign the petition, which would call on Israel to immediately withdraw from Gaza, and stop the brutality against the Gazan people.
“To be honest, as a Jew I find it extremely difficult to watch and to observe the suffering that is accompanying it (the conflict),” he said.
He reiterated the viewpoint that it was because of the Jewish history of suffering and oppression during the Holocaust that they needed to be more sensitive to the suffering of others.
“To think that the Jews in the form of Israel are causing this suffering, it is extremely difficult to comprehend,” he said.
The ‘South African Jews Against the War in Gaza’ petition can be found atwww.change.org. VOC (Mubeen Banderker)