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« Carte Blanche Story on El-Al Security - Update | Main | Mike Berger and Milton Shain Respond to Stephen Friedman »

November 29, 2009



Interesting perception. I am ex SA living in London for 20plus years, and the common shared perception of non Brit Jews here has always been frustration with the low profile, keep your head down don't rock the boat tradition of British Jewry, compared to the confident, comfortable in your skin sense of Jewish identity in SA I recall. (and of course in USA). Maybe we have had to become more assertive and combative here in the UK as Jews here come under more pressure.

Your site is a great resource, and I came here today to check if there is anything I need to know about the participants in the boycott apartheid Israel tour which kicks off in London next week. Aside from Kasrils, of whom of course I know all too much, I don't know about the others. Any info that will help us in confronting them? (The London meeting is next Friday night- don't know if they chose Shabbat deliberately.)

BRICUP is organising four public meetings on
Israel, the Palestinians and Apartheid:
The Case for Sanctions and Boycott

speakers include:

* Ronnie Kasrils - former minister in Nelson Mandela's ANC
government and anti-Apartheid activist
* Bongani Masuku - International Secretary Cosatu - the South
African trade union federation
* George Mahlangu - Campaigns Coordinator, Cosatu - the South
African trade union federation
* Omar Barghouti - Palestinian Campaign for Boycott, Divestment
and Sanctions


Sorry: Of course I have read all about the infamous utterings of Bongani Masuku here, how could I have forgotten. Is there anything recent about him? I find nothing about George Mahlangu.

The Blacklisted Dictator


Firstly, I agree with you that The SAJR was wrong to print Rustee's diatribe. It has no merit whatsoever and I was quite shocked that Geof Sifrin thought that it was worthy of publication. I don't, moreover, believe that Rustee's various slurs warrant a response.

As a UK Jew who spends time in both London and Joburg, I have been thinking about your contention that UK Jewry takes more risks than SA Jewry. (I assume that you are, inter alia, referring to the demo that they held in Trafalgar Square in support of Israel.)

I believe that SA Jewry is in a much deeper hole than its UK counterparts. And I think that the reason is that the democratic framework is much more fragile in SA. Moreover, SA Jews have the added burden that they are White (their skin colour is not 100% kosher in the new "non-racial" SA). Anti-zionism is, moreover, quite main-stream in The ANC. And within Cosatu and The SACP it is a guiding light. This does not apply to the main political parties in The UK.

As you know, I believe that SA Jewry has not been courageous enough in fighting their corner as SA citizens, first and foremost. To some extent, their public support of Israel is contingent on this and cannot occur in a society which does not value freedom of expression and a vibrant multi-party democracy.


Totally agree with all your points including that it didn't warrant a response.


Hi Aime, I'm quite surprise that they are sending Bongani to the UK. It will be worth closely following what he has to say. He is bound to slip up with some unadulterated hate speech. He is not the brightest.


Thanks Steve. We will let you know if he says anything interesting.

"John Rustee"

Dear Stephen,

First and foremost I would like to thank you for the added publicity you have given to my opinion despite the fact that "it does not warrant a response".

I love argument ad hominem, it really makes for a thrilling read but has nothing to do with the matter at hand. I can assure you, this monkey can do a lot more than just read and write.

While I may be a narcissistic, patronizing, bigot, I feel hurt by your calling me a hypocrite. Please elaborate as my dodging your name-calling resulted in my missing your point.

A few things before you make a fool out of yourself by misquoting me:

1. I do not speak on behalf of Israel, I speak on behalf of myself and anybody who supports my opinions is included in that collective "we"; trust me there are enough of us. While you may find this surprising, I have had people contact me to thank me for saying what I said. While you may consider your opinion fact, the rest of the world does not. I know my opinion is just that which is why it was posted on a blog and not in a political journal. Considering I am actually in Israel, I think I can safely comment on the reactions that the SA soldiers have had in light of the situation and the response back home.

2. I never stated that people who don't make aliya are not Zionists. There are plenty of Zionists in South Africa whom I respect and plenty of apathetic people in South Africa whom I respect. The people I do not respect are those who are apathetic yet act like they are Zionists and seem to get terribly offended when you put them on the spot about it.

3. I do not have to list every anti-Semitic/anti-Israel occurrence that transpires in South Africa in order to make my point. Your argument further solidifies mine - too much is going on in SA and not enough is being done about it. The writing is on the wall but nobody wants to see it - maybe Ronnie Kasrils, the PSC and COSATU need to march again for you to get the picture.

4. I mentioned nothing of a call to arms. A call to action is an entirely different thing. Must I spell it out for you?

5. Again, I do not ask SA Jews to make aliya. Your being so far off the point makes me wonder if you read the piece to begin with.

6. My focus is on South Africa, I do/have not lived in England, Australia, the U.S. or any other diaspora country, so unlike yourself, I cannot assume what their motivations may be. I am simply begging the question.

I find it ironic that you blast my blog yet your conclusion basically alludes to the same ends as mine does, a call to action. Maybe your conclusion should really read "but the claptrap stench of Rustee’s rantings certainly shouldn’t be the spark that triggers it because its not fair that he gets the attention when I want."

Sincerely yours,

"John Rustee"

Anonymous - Israel

I'm sorry but I kind of missed your point between all the name calling.. It seems that you're more angry with Rustee, a guy you actually don't even know, then what he actually had to say.


I found Rustee's rant confused and contradictory in parts, motivated by obvious frustration at a frightening future for SA Jewry, a frustration I share in. Still I agree with Posner (had no idea you were a Brit) that the SAJR should never have printed it, and generally echo Posner's points here. There is much to criticise SA Jewry for, but I don't think they are a monolithic block and so shouldn't all be painted with the same brush. Still to be fair to Rustee, it was just a blog post, not a scholarly article, he didn't intend it as such.

Frankly I think there is much more to criticise American Jewry for, and they are hardly in the same boat as SA Jewry, not yet anyway.

However Steve there is no need to call Rustee an idiot, that's just a silly ad hominem. You have never called various anti-Israel so-called Jews who bully and lie and try and pretend they are the voice of reason and sense among SA Jewry, like Geffen and Isaacs idiots, and they are guilty of a lot worse than Rustee ever could be. I have no problem calling Geffen and Isaacs self-hating Jews since that is what they are, something Steve would never do. Geffen has called me a racist, and I have to say that was just projection on his part.

Maybe Steve, save the ire for those who truly deserve it, as Bob Dylan famously put it, 'let us not talk falsely now, for the hour is getting late'.


Steve, I agree with you that Rustee's piece should not have been published, but for entirely different reasons. At the end of the day he has some very valid points. The problem was that between all the swearing and name calling his content was lost. It became a rant more than an opinion piece. For this reason I feel it had no place in the paper. The swearing alone should have been enough to remove it from the realm of credible journalism.

That said, as anon above has already stated, your response fits the exact same category.

To summarize what I felt to be Rustee's points, without the name calling, I would say that:
Particularly the issue of expats having served in the IDf has been dealt with inadequatley. We're not expecting a much, but here in Israel, we would have liked even small statement of reassurance (or of don't come visit right now till we get this sorted out).

Rustees accusation that SA Jews are too comfortable to want to rock the boat also has some merit. Although I would venture that there are also many good reasons not the rock the boat and so who is he to ascribe motive to the community as a whole.

Also, I;m not sure how connected you are with Cape town jewry. Perhaps John is. The rhetoric coming out of Cape Town doesn't exactly make us, over here in israel, feel the love. CT Jewry is extremely left wing and (given the recent debacle with the refusniks) place far more emphasis on liberal left wing values than support for their own people. Reading CT responses is enough to bring out a Rustee.

In short, like we've said before, lets play the ball not the man. Metaphors of rotting rats and illiterate monkies only serve to reduce this blog intellectually and deligitamise its content.

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