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The Jewish Report Editorial

An icon of SA Jewry

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David Teeger has just matriculated and yet this young man, no more than 19 years old, has become a symbol of what’s happening to South African Jewry. He has also become an icon in terms of the integrity and strength with which he has handled the debacle that surrounds him (see page 1).

Towards the end of last year, Teeger was head boy of King Edward VII School in Johannesburg and, being a phenomenal cricketer and natural leader, he was also the captain of the South African Under-19 cricket team. That wasn’t all, but it was the biggest reason people admired him.

His eyes were on the ball, including matric, his school, doing good, being a committed, observant Jew, and a cricketer. He needed no distraction as he had a lot to accomplish. His family, friends, team, and community were all behind him.

And then he was nominated in the inaugural Absa Jewish Achiever Rising Star Award 2023. It wasn’t something he sought, pursued, or needed, it just happened, and he and his family – being integral to the Jewish community – went ahead with the award out of respect for the SA Jewish Report and the community.

When Teeger won, he was more surprised than anyone because he had looked at the other finalists in his section and thought he didn’t stand a chance against those amazing achievers. But the judges saw a leader and a true rising star in him. They recognised his commitment to his Judaism, fighting gender violence, breaking unnecessary barriers, to serving South Africa as a cricketer, and so much else.

But when he won and took to that podium to accept his award, it was just days after the 7 October massacre in Israel and the Jewish state had been forced into fighting for its survival against terrorism. We were all emotional about what was happening in Israel, and Teeger bravely and articulately vocalised what so many of us were feeling. He made it clear that he believed in Israel’s right to defend itself, not least of all after the massacre, and that he saw the young people in the Israel Defense Forces as true rising stars because of what they were facing. Many of them aren’t much older than Teeger.

So many of us in the audience had tears of support in our eyes as we listened to him. We looked at him with such pride. And yet, it was this that led to a massive international political and antisemitic battle against a not-yet-adult cricketer in his sporting arena. This battle is so clearly a microcosm of the South African macrocosm.

When Cricket South Africa (CSA) faced a complaint from the Palestinian Solidarity Alliance about Teeger’s opinions, it found a way to deal with it. Rather than decide on the matter itself, the board commissioned an inquiry by acclaimed Advocate Wim Trengove. Teeger was exonerated and, to save face and without any real reason not to, CSA reinstated Teeger as captain.

He was all set to take his team to the Under-19 World Cup this Friday, but this was too good to be true. Those who were against Teeger captaining the national Under-19 side saw to it that he wouldn’t be able to do it.

At this point, the sports minister was said to have intervened. And more complaints from the Israel-hating lobby were heard. Teeger is understood to have been pressured to resign from his position, but he didn’t, and I honour him for that.

Not being able to get him to go quietly, the CSA stripped him of his captaincy under the ridiculous guise of his leadership of the team being a security threat. Somehow, him playing wasn’t a threat, only his captaincy. And the CSA wasn’t able to give the South African Jewish Board of Deputies any evidence of this threat being a reality.

If there was a real threat, why would it allow him to play at all? If there was a threat, surely it should upgrade security, not downgrade the captain?

Could CSA have been worried that the anti-Israel lobby is a group of terrorists and might orchestrate an attack at the games? Really? I thought the South African powers that be didn’t see Hamas as terrorists.

The truth is that the government, its antisemitic cronies, and CSA’s leadership wanted Teeger out because he’s Jewish and he holds opinions they don’t like and won’t apologise for them. He clearly falls into the group of Jews known by our enemies as “bad Jews” because they unapologetically support a Jewish state and Israel’s right to defend itself. So, they felt they had to punish Teeger because he wouldn’t kowtow to what they want Jews to be. Kol hakavod to him!

We cannot be the kind of people who hide who we are and what we believe or feel. As Jews, I like to believe we stand up for what we believe. We don’t apologise for believing in the state of Israel. We also don’t apologise if we don’t agree with something Israel does. However, that never means we don’t support the country and its right to exist and defend itself.

Why on earth should any of us have to hide our opinions? They aren’t genocidal. They aren’t hateful. They aren’t opinions destined to harm anyone. They are simply opinions in which we show our allegiance to a country that we pray for every day in shul. It’s a country that’s so intrinsic to us, it’s in our daily prayers written long before today’s state of Israel was established.

But young Teeger didn’t stand a chance against the hatred in this country.

I believe we all need to stand behind and alongside him and hold our heads up high. We have nothing to be ashamed of, but right now, in the face of this, we need to be united as a people. We need to stand and work together. Am Yisrael Chai!

Shabbat Shalom!

Peta Krost


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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Ruth

    Jan 24, 2024 at 4:45 am

    Now that Iran has bought South Africa and Hamas has an official office in Cape Town, I believe that it’s time to make serious moves to leave.

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