Judge Richard Goldstone, who authored a damning report accusing Israel of committing war crimes in the Gaza Strip, has reportedly been banned by pro-Israel activists from attending his grandson's bar mitzvah in his native South Africa.
According to the report circulating on Web logs, the South African Zionist Federation (SAZF) and the Beth Hamedrash Hagadol in Sandton reached an agreement with the Goldstone family under which the judge would not be permitted to attend the synagogue service in Johannesburg next month.
"We understand there's a bar mitzvah boy involved - we're very sensitive to the issues; at this stage there?s nothing further to say," the Writing Rights blog quoted the SAZF chairman Avrom Krenge as saying."
The Zionist federation was "coming across most forcefully because we represent Israel," the blog quoted Krenge as saying.
The head of South Africa's Beth Din - or Jewish religious court - told the blog the court had not been officially involved in the matter, but that he supported the move as it spoke to the sentiments of many in the community and could prevent potential "unpleasantness."
"I know that there was a very strong feeling in the shul, a lot of anger," the blog quoted Rosh Beth Din Rabbi Moshe Kurtstag as saying. "I heard also that the SAZF wanted to organize a protest outside the shul - [there were] all kinds of plans. But I think reason prevailed."
According to the blog, Kurstag said he believed Goldstone had done "a tremendous disservice not only to Israel but to the Jewish world. His name is used by hostile elements in the world against Israel and this can increase anti-Semitic waves."
"I understand that he is a judge, but he should have had the sense to understand that whatever he said wouldn't be good and he should have just recused himself. People have got feelings about it, they believe he put Israel in danger and they wouldn't like him to be getting honor," Kurstag was quoted as saying. "I think [the agreement] was quite a sensible thing to avert all this unpleasantness."
According the blog, Goldstone confirmed that he would not be attending the bar mitzvah. "In the interests of my grandson, I've decided not to attend the ceremony at the synagogue," he was quoted as saying.
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