Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu on Thursday unveiled a plaque in Tamboerskloof dedicated to the memory of the people who perished in the most recent offensive on Gaza by the Israeli military. The event, organized by the South African Jewish Voices for a Just Peace, a recent creation of South African Jews appalled by the treatment of Palestinians by the Israeli government, was attended by people of all Abrahamic faiths.
JVJP spokesperson Leonard Shapiro said South African Jews are not a homogenous group and many disagree wholeheartedly with the way their religion has been utilized to oppress others.
“The South African Jewish community … is not homogenous, and there [are] many different views on Israel. Many Jews in our country are deeply disturbed by the actions of Israel and the human rights abuses perpetrated against the Palestinian people, but many Jews in our country are afraid to speak out against these abuses for fear of being ostracized,” he said in opening the event.
“Gaza still lives under a crippling land, air and sea blockade, hundreds of thousands of Gazans are living in the ruins of the [Strip] with no water, electricity or sewerage infrastructure.”
He also said the violence in Palestine is not restricted to only war time scenarios, but rather, oppression by Israel is a constant feature of Palestinian life.
Struggle stalwart and Rivonia Trialist Denis Goldberg delivered an address at the ceremony. Imam Rashied Omar of the Claremont Main Road Masjid and Rabbi Greg Alexander of the Temple Israel Progressive Jewish Congregation were also in attendance. The event took place in Military Road, Tamboerskloof.
“It is always far more difficult to stand for justice if it is against your own community. But this is the higher kind of justice that the Muslim sacred scripture the Glorious Qur’an beckons us to,” Imam Omar said in his address.
“In Chapter 4 verse 135, God, the Lord of Compassionate Justice proclaims:
O Believers! Stand out firmly and resolutely for Justice, As Witnesses to God, Even though it may be against your own selves Or your parents or your close relatives; Whether the person concerned be rich or poor, For God is nearer to all of them in compassion; Therefore do not follow the lusts (of your ill-commanding selves) Lest you deviate from justice; and if you swerve or turn aside from justice, Then Behold, God is indeed well aware of all that you do (Q4:135)”
“This is the kind of egalitarian justice that our troubled world is crying out for.”
The Claremont Main Road Mosque in its recent condemnation of the barbarism and atrocities being committed by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) adopted a slogan popularized in recent times by Jewish Voices for a Just Peace, namely, ‘Not in our Name’. Imam Omar said remembering the many innocent lives lost in Gaza during July and August 2014, is a demonstration of a joint commitment to stand in solidarity for the cause of justice.
“We must not allow anti-Semitic and Islamophobic forces to distract us from this noble goal of standing up for justice. At this somber time, we pray that the current ceasefire in Gaza gives time for compassion to flower where there was fear and rage; and may compassion give rise to a just and peaceful settlement that sees the liberation of the Palestinian people.”
Remembering the lives lost this July and August is particularly important as the situation in Palestine-Israel has worsened, said Jewish Voice for Peace. Israel undertook the biggest land-grab ever in the West Bank and Gaza still lives under a crippling land, air and sea blockade. Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians are living in the ruins of Gaza with no electricity, water or sewerage, while life in Israel goes back to normal. VOC (Andriques Che Petersen)