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« Limmud SA is in JHB | Main | Shock Horror - Unrepentant anti-Semitism at MRN! »

July 28, 2009



I think this is now bigger than Limmud. Its about the right of the Jewish community to identify with Israel. More and more this is being challenged. I think we need strong public statements from all major Jewish groups endorsing the right of Benjamin to come to South Africa and speak.

Adam Shapiro

I agree with you Mike - I do think that this is now bigger than Limmud. This is an infringement on the Constitution and should be addressed by government. The PSC should be locked up for inciting violence and intimidation. If not - how much better off is SA than our northern neighbours?

David hersch

If you sleep with dogs you'll wake up with fleas.

My, my, my, how we get off the original subject. The original article, "Zackie Achmat calls on Jews to silence Israel’s voice" had no comments at all about Achmat. No analysis, no background, nothing about his motivation and agenda. Why is he doing this and who is aiding and abetting him in his nefarious quest? The article briefly mentioned his going on the self-appointed "delegation", but what was it all about and how does Achmat come to Limmud? Don't be sidetracked. There is much to discuss and reveal about Achmat and his allies, especially the Jewish ones.

May I recommend you to go to NGO Monitor and become acquainted with the concept of "Lawfare". See Lawfare is the exploitation of courts in democratic countries in order to harass Israeli officials with civil lawsuits and criminal investigations for "war crimes," "crimes against humanity," and other alleged violations of international law. While NGOs claim these cases are about obtaining "justice" for Palestinian victims, they are actually part of the larger political war against Israel. The tactic of lawfare was adopted at the NGO Forum of the 2001 Durban Conference, and is an integral part of the Durban Strategy which seeks to demonize and delegitimise Israel.

Essentially, you will all come to understand that NGO's, a fairly recent development, exist today for far more than their original purposes. They are hugely funded by foreign governments, as you will see on NGO Monitor, and often front for these governments and funders doing what they cannot do themselves and nefariously "pressuring" to give these governments and bodies justification for their attacks on Israel. Furthermore, they also become huge sources of income for the participants.

Now lets take Zachie Achmat. Essentially the raison d'être of his NGO, the Treat Action Campaign (TAC) was to agitate for the roll-out of Antiretroviral drugs for people infected with HIV, as I am lead to believe Achmat is. This is supported by all of us. However, the TAC has succeeded with the SA Government having changed its stance and now rolling out these drugs. I would now say that the TAC, having achieved what it set out to do, should now disband and shut down. However, having been funded by governments and foundations, it becomes a fat cash-cow for its office bearers and employees and this is a huge motivation to keep going. But how? Easy, become a critic of Israel. This will guarantee you funds from Saudi Arabia, the EU and many others. The qualifications and knowledge needed to morph from being an AIDS drug activist organisation to an anti-Israel, international political activist organisation? None!

So, with Nathan Geffen being involved with the TAC and long having been anti-Israel and Doron Isaacs doing some work for them as a student or just as he graduated, we find by some strange coincidence that these two lead a delegation of self-appointed human rights activists to investigate Israel’s alleged human rights violations made up mostly of TAC members and wrapped in a veneer of respectability by taking Mrs Madlal-Routledge, other ANC politicians and two judges along for five days and return knowing “everything”. We are not discussing the delegation as it has been covered on this site.

On the return of the “delegation”, Isaacs and some of his merry men such as Daniel MacKintosh, all become involved as organisers of Limmud with the full support of the Cape Town organiser, Vivienne Anstey, and as a result, the “delegation” was invited to “report back” and essentially Limmud has been used as a wedge into the Jewish community. Of course Achmat is part of this by association.

Now Achmat, having his allies and supporters from the Jewish community acting as a fifth column, thinks he has the right to dictate what the community can and cannot do. Chutzpah doesn’t begin to describe it. However, there is a lesson here: If you sleep with dogs you'll wake up with fleas.

Limmud will survive this, but will it survive the imbalance it constantly puts forth as can be seen by the people it generally invites to speak and in the case of Dennis Davis, to chair meetings and be involved? Will it survive its current organisers’ political persuasion and leanings? Time will tell and if people no longer attend because of the imbalance, c’est la vie.

As for the fuss about David Benjamin, what has happened is extremely rude. However, whilst rigorous debate is welcomed, he should be warmly welcomed and it is time the community were exposed to some honest Israeli reality. At least there will be two sensible speakers at this year’s Limmud, David Benjamin and Professor Yisrael Aumann.


"The PSC should be locked up for inciting violence and intimidation."

I just reread the article above and canot find any incitement or intimidation there.

David Hersch

In my comments above, I was referring to the Comments not having any analysis and not the original articles as posted by Steve and Mike, which were excellent and I commend you on your swift actions to take Achmat on. I apologise for some typo mistakes such as Treatment Action Campaign and Madlala-Routledge.


I can't find any record of the PSC calling for this. Where did you read/hear this?


Media Release: War criminals not welcome in South Africa!

Issued by the Palestine Solidarity Committee

28 July 2009

The Palestine Solidarity Committee supports the position taken by Zackie Achmat and Jonathan Shapiro in their call to Jewish organisation Limmud to withdraw its invitation for war criminal David Benjamin to speak at its events next week. We also support Achmat’s call on people who support justice to withdraw their participation if Benjamin remains on the programme. In particular, we call on those who stand for human rights and social justice – especially within the legal fraternity – to be consistent in their positions.

South African-born Lieutenant-Colonel David Benjamin, who obtained his law degree from the University of Cape Town, has worked for the Israeli Occupation Forces for the past 17 years. He is currently in the Military Advocates Corps, which provides legal advice to the Israeli Army.

Benjamin has been credited with giving the Israeli army the legal go-ahead for the use of white phosphorous in its attacks against Gaza in December 2008-January 2009. Israel’s use of white phosphorous in Gaza is illegal under international law; the Geneva Convention bars its use against civilian targets.

Benjamin is also guilty for all the war crimes committed during the Gaza massacre, by his own admission. He told Bloomberg News that the Gaza “campaign was a long time in the works, and we [the Military Advocates Corps] were intimately involved in the planning... Approval of targets which can be attacked, methods of warfare – it all has gone through us.” Thus, Benjamin bears responsibility for the attacks against civilian targets, the massacre of more than a thousand civilians including hundreds of children, the bombing of universities, and of United Nations offices and schools.

John Ging, a United Nations official in Gaza, said that Israel had deliberately targeted five schools run by the UN Relief and Works Agency, killing scores of civilians. And, according to Human Rights Watch: “Israel’s use of heavy artillery in residential areas of Gaza City violates the prohibition under the laws of war against indiscriminate attacks.” All credible humanitarian and human rights organisations, including Amnesty International, and the Red Cross, and respected individuals such as the professors of law Richard Falk and our own John Dugard, also condemned these actions as war crimes.

All of these actions are war crimes under international law, and Benjamin is, therefore, a war criminal. South Africans should feel outraged to have such a war criminal visiting our country, with the express purpose, according to Limmud, of providing South African audiences with the Israeli army’s justification for their war crimes. The arrogant refusal by Limmud organisers to respond positively to Achmat’s and Shapiro’s request perhaps suggests their support of these war crimes.

The PSC calls on the South African state, as a signatory to the Rome Statute, to pursue legal action against war criminals such as David Benjamin when they set foot in our country.

Organisations representing the vast majority of Palestinians have – like us during our struggle against apartheid – called on the world to boycott Israeli state officials and Israeli institutions. We should respect this call just as many around the world respected and responded to our call to boycott apartheid state officials.

For more information, call:

Salim – 082 802 5936

Melissa – 084 574 2674



Mr David Hersch, writing his usual crap again and again. Mr Hersch, the community knows you're a joke. Please stop attempting to be the saviour of Israel. Your paranoia and alarmingly disgusting analysis of the TAC and an anti israel conspiracy is hilarious but also simply pathetic.

David Hersch

Just seen the comment above about me and today is 12 Jan 2011. Took a bit of time for the anonymous "dj" to get his message to me. My reply? Ho hum...zzzzzzz.

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