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The Jewish Report Editorial

Back off our rising star!

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I’m incensed by the revolting abuse that the winner of our inaugural Absa Jewish Achiever Rising Star Award, David Teeger, has been subjected to in the past couple of weeks. Our haters are abusing him because he made it clear that he supports Israel and dedicated his award to the young soldiers fighting so we can hold our head up high in the diaspora.

And for this, our smart, open hearted, 18-year-old cricketer is being lambasted and stands to lose his captaincy of the Under-19 Proteas. Why? Because like all of us, he supports the survival of the Jewish state and wasn’t afraid to say so. Nor should he be.

This teenager is an exceptional sportsman with the potential to become one of South Africa’s greats. He’s also destined to go so far in life because he has what it takes – that X-factor.

Consider that this young, observant Jewish teen became head boy of King Edward VII School, where there are very few Jewish kids, and earned the respect of his teachers and peers.

When his school cricket team were playing at home on Saturdays, they would walk all the way to his house – not close to the school – to walk with David to the grounds because they respect his religious choices and him. He’s a young man with integrity, a moral backbone, commitment to what’s important to him, and a true leader with a good head on his shoulders.

Because of this, I nominated him for the Absa Jewish Achiever Awards as a rising star. We had written about him enough to know the mettle he was made of.

Truth is, he had tough competition, and many of those competing against him were older and had achieved more in different areas. But the judges spent a great deal of time weighing up who most deserved this inaugural award.

Their decision was final. They believed that David was the clear rising star, and it was his time to shine.

When David got up to accept the award, he hadn’t expected to win, and he hadn’t prepared a speech. So, he spoke from the heart.

He was so gracious, thanking everyone involved in the awards, speaking about how it’s far more important to be a good person, a good father, husband, brother, and son than it is to be famous. He spoke about how much he honoured the diversity in his school, and the love and brotherhood he found there. Is this the sentiment of someone who is likely to support genocide? Hardly!

He spoke about truly wanting to inspire other religious young sportsmen to follow their dreams as he was doing – and in a way that didn’t get in the way of his faith. Clearly, David is a role model, someone many young people can look up to and learn from.

When David dedicated his award to the young soldiers, he inspired the entire audience at the awards ceremony. Not surprising because we were – and still are – reeling from the brutality of the massacre of 1 200 Israelis, and the maiming, burning, raping, and injuring of about 5 000 others and kidnapping of 240 mostly women and children.

We were all still in shock as the horrific facts of what happened on 7 October filtered through to us. Most of us in this community have family living in Israel, and we have a close connection with the Jewish state. What’s more, the people were attacked for no other reason other than the fact that they were Jews. For this reason, the Israeli army called up thousands to help destroy the terrorist organisation that did this to them. So, David’s sentiments are our own. The fact that young men have no choice but to go and fight for the survival of the country isn’t something anyone wants. They have no choice. So, we – Jews all over the world – support them. Not just David.

Can I say it seems absurd that Cricket South Africa and the Central Gauteng Lions are even considering suspending David for making what our haters termed a “provocative and inflammatory political statement” at the awards ceremony?

In the pages of this newspaper, I can show you provocative and inflammatory political statements from many of our haters, in which they call for Israel to be destroyed and the killing of people like us. That’s inflammatory and provocative, but saying that you support Israeli soldiers isn’t. It’s fair comment, and his opinion, based on who he is and who we are. Simple! He’s certainly not inciting violence or making comments that can be construed as hate speech. It’s his opinion, and one shared by our community, with the exception of a disparate few.

He’s 100% correct that those young soldiers taking their lives into their hands are going to make the difference between the survival of Israel or not. As a Jew, this is intrinsically important to us. Every time I or any of us see another alert about more soldiers – more often than not under the age of 23 – being killed in Gaza, it makes us sick to our stomachs.

However, our haters took what he said at a private event, and have gone out to destroy this incredible young man’s sporting career. Why, you may ask? Simple, they are using him to make an example of their power in the sporting arena. Much like how they bullied the Rugby Union into disallowing a South African-strong team from Israel coming to play here. Much like they did to a former Miss South Africa, who went to Israel to represent this country.

Only in this case, these cowards are attacking a boy who is writing matric. All he wants to do is what’s right, write matric, play cricket, and get on with living his best life. He means nobody any harm. He’s not a fighter. He’s a young man who is proud of his heritage, both South African and Jewish. His pride in his country of birth is so huge, he dreams of representing it in cricket against the world. And clearly, he would be a shining light in this arena.

That is, unless our haters are able to bully Cricket South Africa and Gauteng Lions Union into dropping David from his captaincy or the team. Only cowards harm or bully 18-year-olds who mean nobody any harm. But then, with all the misinformation around us, they could win.

Hopefully Advocate Wim Trengove SC, who has been called on to adjudicate an independent enquiry, will make mincemeat of this nonsense. If left to the hype and hysteria, the haters could win because it seems that around the world right now, we keep being told Jewish lives don’t matter.

As we move into the 16 Days of Activism for No Violence against Women and Children, we’re still waiting for women’s rights organisations and groups opposed to the abuse of women and gender-based violence to acknowledge what happened in Israel on 7 October. But the biggest, supposedly most important, of such organisations refuse to do so. Why? Because the lives of Palestinian people are important but in their eyes, ours aren’t.

Women are women, and we matter, whether we’re Muslim, African, Scandinavian, or Jewish. If you’re going to fight against the abuse of women, it cannot be biased in favour of only certain women.

And in the same way, if you’re not going to allow a young sports person the right to express an innocent and harmless opinion, you’re taking away his legitimate right according to the Constitution of this country. And that would be detrimental to upholding the values and morals we fought so long to entrench in South Africa.

Shabbat Shalom and Am Yisrael Chai!

Peta Krost


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