Richard Goldstone, the South African former judge who presided over the UN Human Rights Council investigation of last year’s Operation Cast Lead, will attend his grandson’s bar mitzva at the Sandton Synagogue in Johannesburg next week without facing protests outside the event, the South African Jewish community’s umbrella organization announced on Sunday.
Following a meeting of community leaders on Friday, the SA Jewish Board of Deputies said that an agreement was reached according to which no protests would mar the bar mitzva ceremony, but that Goldstone himself would attend a community gathering in which complaints about his controversial report would be aired and he would be given an opportunity to respond.
No date has been set for the meeting, but it will happen “shortly after” the bar mitzva, according to Board of Deputies national director Wendy Kahn.
“The community is very upset about the Goldstone Report,” she explained. “They thought it was unfair, biased and deeply flawed. And several community leaders have come out against it, mentioning specific issues with it.”
Community members who felt “very aggrieved” wanted to stage a protest against it outside the bar mitzva ceremony, leading the family to ask the 71-year-old jurist not to come, in an effort to prevent the protests.
But in the wake of the discussions among community leaders and with
Goldstone himself, the Board of Deputies issued a statement on Sunday
asking that “all parties immediately desist [from] all public
activities on this matter so that the young man’s bar mitzva
celebration can be returned to the privacy and dignity that it
“I am delighted that I will attend the bar mitzva of my grandson,”
Goldstone said following the agreement, according to the Board of
The report, published in September by the commission he headed, accused
the IDF of intentionally committing war crimes during clashes with
Hamas aimed at stopping the firing of rockets at Israel. The report
also accused Hamas of crimes, but was widely endorsed by the Arab world
for its sweeping and damning conclusions about the IDF’s conduct. In
Israel, the report drew widespread criticism and anger.