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The Jewish Report Editorial

What of the ‘Gupta minyan’?

  • Peta low
It is time to address the elephant in the room. Wherever I and my colleagues go, we get asked why we haven’t written about the so-called “Gupta minyan” as if this is absolutely our job. Others challenge us as to when we are going to get on with “loshing” about these people who haven’t had their day in court.
by PETA KROST MAUNDER | Nov 30, 2017

For those of us who have had our heads in the clouds, or have been so far away from media in the last year or so, I am talking about the Jewish businessmen who have been linked to the Guptas and to the corruption that surrounds them.

Yes, you all know at least five names that perhaps are linked to Trillian, Eskom, McKinsey and I could go on. The truth is: The rest of the media – particularly Daily Maverick, amaBhungane and top business publications – have been full of stories about these men and what they have allegedly done.

So, what is it exactly you expect us to do that hasn’t already been done? Are we to give them a right of reply that some may not have had? Are we to fillin the dots so that there can be no mistaking what they did or didn't do? Are we to protect them and give them a platform to tell you how innocent they are?

Suffice to say, we do have a couple of pokers getting hot in the fire.

However, we have also gone down a lot of roads that led us back to point one on this issue. We have given most of them an opportunity to have their say, but each one turned us down.

There was a sense that when we gave Mark Pamensky that opportunity, it certainly didn't do him any good. Nor was it meant to. Apparently, business people in the community thought it was an unsatisfactory story because, among other reasons, they were sure Pamensky wasn't telling the truth.

Others didn't believe we should have given him so much rope. What is true is we gave him a platform – like it or not – to have his say and he did. He may have hoped the community would give him the benefit of the doubt, but they clearly didn't.

I once suggested to a colleague of mine that there were two types of South African Jews, those who support the Gupta guys and those who don’t. He disagreed, saying there were no Jews supporting them. Only their closest family and friends are backing them, but for the most part we are unforgiving.

Here’s why: We hold ourselves and our community up to extremely high standards. We are meant to be a light unto the nations and live scrupulous lives. Truth is: We are human and we all make mistakes. However, the public aspect of so many Jewish people having been seen and believed to have crossed the line and supported the unsupportable, is more than most of us can bear.

We are all watching as our tax money, and money the government doesn't even have, is being sucked into corrupt and wasteful purposes. A nuclear power deal with the Russians?

That is just one of many…

When other people are involved, we can be angry and frustrated, but it is embarrassing and humiliating when our own are involved. It is hard to blame an unknown rogue element when we went to school with people involved. Even harder when you serve on a Jewish communal board with another.

But what do you say to that person when they arrive at the board meetings? Is it okay for them to be sitting on boards? And how do you feel when they walk down the aisle at your shul on Shabbos?

Do we have a right to look down our noses at them? They have not had their day in court.

They have not been found guilty – no matter what evidence is out there. Do we have a right to play G-d and punish them by ostracising them or expecting them to step down from positions of authority? Are we way too judgmental because they are part of us?

We must remember that their children attend the same school as ours and their child may be your child’s best friend. No matter what you think, they are still an integral part of our community. So, how do we deal with them?

I may have all the questions, but the truth is: I don't have the answers to this.

Personally, I don't believe in punishing people unless I have 100% proof positive that they are guilty. I always like to give people the benefit of the doubt.

Am I angry that people who had the same upbringing as I did may have crossed the corruption line in the name of pure greed and may never be held to account? You bet.

Do I believe they should hold communal leadership roles while their integrity is being questioned? I don't. I believe that they should do the honourable thing and stand down until their names are cleared.

Do I believe we should turn against them? Absolutely not. They are innocent until proven guilty!

As a community, no matter how angry and frustrated we are, we need to be fair, kind, live within our integrity and hold onto our moral compass.

As a newspaper, you need to know we are not letting this go. We will continue to work tirelessly in the pursuit of the truth.

Shabbat Shalom!

 

 

 

4 Comments

  1. 4 SETH LUNTZ 26 Jul
    The "Gupta Minyan" have not only brought shame on our community but their conduct will fuel the fire of anti-Semitism.
    Here is a quote from news 24 today:
    In a subsequent email Savides told us, “Neither I nor Michail [Scholiadis] received – or even asked for - any payment for this work. He [Clive] did offer to pay, which I declined, based on it being a favour of a nights worth of help... He then recommended that as a gesture he would make a donation to a charity...”

    This gesture by Clive Angel is a double slap in the face to Judaism. Making a donation is a holy gesture in our faith BUT doing this as a gesture in the process of and to dignify an illegal  act makes a complete mockery of this deed.

    Finally Peta I would imagine that you along with the vast majority of South Africans wanted Zuma removed from power because he was corrupt. Yet he has not had his day in court yet. He has not been proven guilty. So what makes his case  any different to the Gupta Minyan? Using the word minyan with the name Gupta is sick and a gross insult to our faith brought about by the parties in question. I for one feel incredibly upset at the shame that has been brought upon our community. But this is my personal view and I do not purport to be the judge or the jury. You cannot argue that this incident has not shamed our community of which they will always be a part. I do not believe we should treat them as black sheep but I do believe we have a right to be upset and a duty to let them know that we are ashamed of their involvement.
  2. 3 David 27 Jul
    I do believe that the standard of proof you are requiring is too high
    - 100% proof positive?
    - Day in court?

    Of course noone can go to jail until there is a day in court

    But by your standard we have carry on treating the Guptas or Markus Jooste Jooste as paragons of virtue until they meet your standard of proof.

    Surely a high probability (if that has been reached) is enough to start treating people differently?
  3. 2 Alan Fine 27 Jul
    Jews should NEVER turn on their own people no matter what the circumstances are .
    No one can ever know exactly what has transpired and how any of the parties where sucked inn to this spiral of deceit by people of knowledge and power  
    Our own country Israel will never  turn away any of our people in need of protection from harm ,so why should we ostracize them here in SA.
  4. 1 Avram 28 Jul
    At the rate at which the main court case on grand corruption is being postponed into the very distant future, I doubt that they will have their day in court. The community must not sit back and wait for the sheriff. It can on it's own seek private prosecution. 
    Shalom

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