Chief Rabbi Goldstein to ANC: Put up or shut up

  • Chief Rabbi Goldstein for Pesach HOME
“Retract or Debate me!” So says the Chief Rabbi to ANC Dep-Sec General Jessie Duarte after she issued a statement on the atrocities of Nazi Germany & asked “the people of Israel (if) the term ‘lest we forget’ (has) lost it meaning.” The ANC “condemns in the strongest terms, the barbaric attacks on the defenceless Palestinian people of Gaza.” The Chief Rabbi was in Jerusalem,where he wrote, “where I have witnessed the situation first hand.” He is very, very angry.
by ANT KATZ | Jul 13, 2014

Chief challenges Duarte: 'Retract or debate'

“Jessie Duarte (ANC deputy secretary general) must have the integrity and courage to defend her vitriolic views in a public debate. Or retract them. It is a simple and basic choice of personal integrity: retract or debate.

Duarte Jessie ANC“Jessie Duarte’s outrageous statement regarding the Gaza conflict on behalf of the ANC is replete with malicious and shameful lies that must be challenged in the cold light of reason and facts.

RIGHT: Jessie Duarte

“I therefore challenge Ms Duarte to a public debate with me on the claims she makes in her statement,” wrote South African Chief Rabbi Dr Warren Goldstein recently from Jerusalem.

“Her hate-filled outburst is so grotesquely untrue that it cannot be left to stand without the proper public scrutiny provided by a one-on-one debate,” challenges Rabbi Goldstein.

Comparing Israel to Nazis is abhorrent

“Ms Duarte’s comparison of Israel to Nazi Germany and Gaza to the Holocaust death camps, is abhorrent and beyond the pale of civilized discourse.

Chief Rabbi logo new"The Nazi Holocaust is history’s greatest crime, meticulously detailed by the criminal regime that planned and executed over six million Jews.

“She must be held accountable for her morally repugnant words,” says Rabbi Goldstein, which, he says “have brought the ANC into disrepute.

Chief Rabbi Goldstein accuses  Duarte of being responsible for the "betrayed the South African dream of peaceful and dignified dialogue by descending into divisive diatribe".

This, says Rabbi Goldstein, "completely destroys any credibility the ANC had of being an honest broker who can help bring peace to this bitter conflict”.


“I write these words in Jerusalem, where I have witnessed the situation first hand, and experienced the siren warning of Hamas rockets aimed at densely populated cities with the intention of inflicting maximum civilian fatalities. There is no sovereign country on earth that would not defend its citizens from such military attacks.

 “Now,” says Rabbi Dr Goldstein on HIS WEBSITE “Jessie Duarte must have the integrity and courage to defend her vitriolic views in a public debate. Or retract them. It is a simple and basic choice of personal integrity: retract or debate.”

Join the conversation – post your thoughts HERE


  1. 10 Choni 13 Jul
    So another debate, another request for peaceful and dignified understanding. When will our Jewish leadership realise that it is in the "D.N.A." of this government to hate Israel. You might win every debate, but nothing will change the fact that the A.N.C., and many influential N.G.O's will never accept the truth.
    It is time, and I believe that it is "Divine Providence", that we should learn [removed as irrelevant trolling   -ED].
    Why wait until the anti- Israel sentiment becomes violent as is happening in Europe where more and more Jews and Jewish institutions are becoming targets.
    Rabbi, I know your intentions are valiant, but at the end of the day, the only thing you are left defending is the exile. Is it worth defending [removed as irrelevant trolling and counterproductive to Rabbi Goldstein's cause    -ED].
  2. 9 Choni 14 Jul
    Instead of a worthless debate, I suggest Jewish leadership in South Africa face the present reality.
    We can never be proud to be Jewish South Africans.
    What use is it to debate a government whose sentiments against Israel is a essential part of its DNA.
    No amount of whining or debate is going to change them.
    Rather keep quiet and accept the fact that the Jewish community is in great danger of being subjected to more and more anti-Semitism. (A report I just read states that over 100 Jews were trapped in a Synagogue in Paris over the week-end)
    In many countries even though the government might be pro-Israel, anti-Semitism is growing at an alarming rate. Imagine how it will spread in South Africa with a government so intensely ant-Israel.
    I know the 'rantings'of this old man will be considered as those of an alarmist, but should we not learn that no community in the Diaspora has thrived since the exile 2000 years ago. Some might have been peaceful for lengthy periods, but at the end of the day the Diaspora will collapse. The Shoah destroyed one third our people, and the present spiritual Shoah is destroying 100,000 Jews per year.
    Mr. Editor, I know you will censor my next words, but I will say again. Instead of debating the cause for Israel, our leadership should 'debate' amongst themselves the future of our young generation. 
  3. 8 Anonymous 18 Jul
    I totally disagree with Choni,
    What kind of future have the younger generation got, if she continues writing on facebook (as she did with this  last horrendous  post). We need to put a stop to this; or the younger generation, will also be  lead like a lamb to the slaughter, as our fore fathers had, during the holocaust.

    Jessie Duarte must meet with Rabbi  Goldstein.

    As South Africans, we have the right to be protected by the Code of Conduct " It is not permitted to discriminate against another religion/culture/race.

    Jessie Duarte, should know this  act which is in the Code of Conduct, and rather keep her opinions to herself and not conduct herself in such a disrepectful manner. She is a big embarrassment to the ANC!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Failing which, she should be penalized and told by Jacob Zuma, to keep her nose out of it.  

    Furthemore, I would like to know how  Jesse Duarte would feel if the picture (instead of that monster ;  happened to be one of the expresident's during the "apartheid era" ) and the words pertain to her culture. She  would be horrified as we are.  

    All we ask for,  is to live in peace amongst each other, regardless of religion and culture.  The econommic situation in this country is not good and now  Jessie Duarte  is stoking the fire and making untold trouble in our beloved South Africa.

    Why do people discriminate Israel when Hamas started this war? All she wants is peace and if Hamas is going to continually fire bombs at Israel, surely they have a right to protect themselves. Hamas killed those innocent children on the beach, because Hamas told those who lived in that area, to ignore the notices which Israel dropped, telling the people to evacuate thoses areas, as they did not want to harm innocent citizens.  

  4. 7 Mzansi 21 Jul

    Letter to the “Chief Rabbi” in defence of South Africa

    Political commentary


    Affan Sosibo - African national Congress Youth KZN

    To the Esteemed Rabbi Warren Goldstein.

    For far too long we have remained silent and not responded when outrageous slurs and horrifying threats were levelled against the democratically elected government of South Africa by the Jewish lobby, and therefore deemed it prudent to let such issues be dealt with by the elected officials.

    However because the source of the latest threat is someone who is the anointed leader of the Jewish community, and is considered by a section of our society as a respected man of cloth, I consider it necessary to respond. By not responding in such circumstances, there exists a danger that the public may downplay the danger that your latest behaviour presents to our national sovereignty and democracy. Indeed some members of the Jewish community might even think of emulating your intimidating tactics; clothed as they are with the imprimatur of the office of the Chief Rabbi.

    Esteemed Rabbi

    Before I proceed further in this communiqué I would like to pose a few questions which I hope you will be kind enough to answer.

    1.     Can you tell me exactly who gave you the right to use the Marikana tragedy in order to blackmail the South African government to take decisions that are commensurate to the wishes of the Jewish community regardless of the wishes of the black majority to which the Marikina martyrs belonged?

    2.    Why is it that you think it is acceptable for you to invoke the memory of the Marikina martyrs in order to disqualify the South African government from commenting on the Israel aggression and then cry foul when others invoke the plight of the Jews in Hitler’s Germany in order to prevent Israel from doing to the Palestinians what Hitler did to the Jews?

    3.    Why do you believe that only you, the members of the Jewish community, have a right to comment on the Israel aggression and that everybody else who does so is an “anti-Semite”?

    4.    Why must we as South Africans not be worried that you, the Jewish minority community, are harassing our government on behalf of a foreign country?

    5.    Why do you think the South African government and the African National Congress (ANC) must take policy decisions that suit the taste of the Jewish minority regardless of the views of the black majority of South Africans including the Muslim and Hindu sections and ANC members?

    6.    Since South Africa is a secular democracy, can you explain which clause in our constitution which sanctions the formation of the “Office of the Chief Rabbi of South Africa”? I have not heard of the “Office the Grand mufti/Ayatollah of South Africa” or “Office of the Chief Swami/Pundit of South Africa”.

    7.     Would you find me at fault if I say most South Africans are extremely concerned that you ,a leader of a minority, has just called an elected government official and threaten him with “consequences” if he doesn’t act according to your orders?. More worrying is that you are harassing our leaders on behalf of a foreign regime not as a South African citizen who accept that the ANC as the ruling party in entitled to act in accordance with the grievances and aspirations of all South Africans not a fringe Zionist sect.

    8.    Can you please tell me where in the world it is acceptable for a leader of a minority community, acting on behalf of a foreign regime, to threaten with “consequences” a popular government? The last time Arab citizens of Israel tried to do that they were considered a fifth column and had their property destroyed and citizenship revoked. Given that you regard Israel as bastion of democracy, would you like the South African government to treat you in the same manner as Israel treat its Arab minority?

    9.    There are people in this country of German, English, Irish, Indian, Malay, Pakistani, Arab descent and they regard themselves as South Africans first. I do not remember any of them threatening our government with “consequences” if it doesn’t act in a manner that is commensurate with the German, English, and Irish, Indian, Malay, Pakistani or Arab governments. Why do you think we must not question your loyalty to South Africa given that you seem to be offended by everything South African and you continually undermine South Africa’s independence and sovereignty by demanding that we must cease to think on our own but we must act in accordance with the nefarious interest of the foreign country of Israel.

    10.  Why do you think we must tolerate you ridiculing the South African struggle for freedom and you are on record mocking the post-Apartheid progress and ridiculing our efforts of creating racial harmony and national reconciliation all because you are hell-bent on undermining your own country in advancement of the interest of the apartheid entity called Israel?

    I pose these questions without any ill will and I hope you will respond in a similar fashion.

    Esteemed Rabbi

    I have to conclude that you need a course on the constitutional foundations of this country, better yet, ANC’s internal processes.

    I read your letter from Jerusalem. I must say I’m completely baffled by your desperate attempts to advance yourself as a paragon of political morality and an old hand on matters pertaining to the internal affairs of the ANC. Your brazen attack on Comrade Jessie Duarte exposed you as a paranoid man who disregards Comrade Duarte’s right to freedom of expression. By cowardly singling out Comrade Duarte for your illogical vitriol, even though you knew that she was mandated by the ANC to speak, you proved to be a sexist bigot and Shylockian spinster.

    Not only was your attempt a disaster, you made fools out of the Jewish community and single handedly dealt it an insulting blow. Perhaps this kind of irony should come as no surprise, from you. If you were a soccer player we would say you scored an own goal, much to the exasperation of your own supporters.

    From a man of cloth I expected a more sober approach in terms of articulating both the reasons as well as the benefits of tolerating the Jewish colonial war against the defenceless and dispossessed Palestinian people , but your asinine vitriol and the weak context you provided did very little to bolster your own cause.

    What became clear from the letter though is your misplaced attack on the ANC for taking decisive action against the seemingly erratic mass murderer, Mr Benyamin netanyahu. I can only conclude that by challenging the ANC to debate its views, you intended to elevate your cause onto an equally compelling platform as the ANC and give it a similarly noble impetus.

    In my considered view, this has had the unintended consequence of underscoring your obsessive determination as a lobbyist for the racist apartheid regime in Israel, and yours truly, the handler, Benyamin Netanyahu.

    It is now clear as day that your letter was a serious let down to your backers, quite a rant and rave. What was painfully obvious was your persistent ignorance about the cause for South Africans involved in the struggle for liberation of Palestine. Having been part of this struggle myself, all my solicitous years I might add, I was seriously taken aback by your assertion that, in pursuit of a “peaceful and dignified dialogue”, we must remain silent and not condemn the Jewish colonialists and their genocide against noble and peaceful people of Gaza.

    I can only guess the point you were trying to put across when you said; I cite “I therefore challenge Ms Duarte to a public debate with me on the claims she makes in her statement.” I admit at first I thought you were onto something, but then you lost me completely when you said; again I cite “Her hate-filled outburst is so grotesquely untrue that it cannot be left to stand without the proper public scrutiny provided by a one on one debate” at that point all I could was wonder whether the air could get any hotter?

    Having been an advocate for permanent peace in Palestine long side other progressive Jews, it is not just South African Jews who should be insulted by your uninformed and gung-ho conclusions but everybody who has made an appreciable contribution towards peace.

    Your argument is narrowly centered on your rage and ire because Israel has been called to order and reminded that just as the world did not let Hitler exterminate the Jews; The Jews will also not be allowed to exterminate the Palestinian people.

    Your displeasure and rant as a result of the rejection that Zionists are facing in our country were however well camouflaged by your tactless shifting of focus from their behaviour and conduct to personal attacks on the prestige of comrade Duarte.

    In the process you have exposed your oblivion to South Africa’s and ANC’s anti-racist and anti-colonial credentials and have opportunistically abused your constitutional right to free speech to please your cabal and faction, justifying a genocide and crimes against humanity.

    I am convinced that you and others of your kind will be unmasked very soon both for the roles you play in Supporting the apartheid regime here in South Africa and destroying African lives.

    In your letter you also failed to introduce a disclaimer, that in fact the shallow and juvenile views were yours only and not of the patriotic South African Jews. For this failure the Jewish community would be quite lenient and merciful if it were not to haul you to the court for defaming it.

    Every two or three years, Israel launches a massive military assault upon largely unarmed Palestinians in Gaza. It did this in December 2008 to January 2009. It did it again in November 2012. On each occasion hundreds of Palestinians are murdered and thousands more maimed.

    Every time, Israel claims the moral high ground for its brutal, barbaric action. It blames Hamas, an important component of the Palestinian liberation movement. Between 29 September 2000 and 23 June 2014, 1,523 Palestinian children were killed by Israelis. It is also worth noting that between the two dates, 6,876 Palestinians were killed by the Israeli colonialists.

    Israel is determined to show friend and foe that it is above the law, that the norms that apply to other states bear no relevance to it. It is “exceptional” because the Jews are a “chosen people.”

    The Netanyahu regime is also worried that more and more people especially in Europe and Africa are beginning to appreciate the justice of the Palestinian cause as reflected in the growing support of big corporations and universities for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel’s post -1967 occupation of Palestinian land. In order to check this trend, Netanyahu is once again playing the victim card especially with Europe in mind.

    There will continue to be massacres of this sort in the future unless the fundamental cause of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is addressed. It is widely accepted that the root of the conflict is Israeli occupation of Palestinian land. It is because of their situation— their dispossession —that Palestinians are sometimes even prepared to resort to violence in order to restore their dignity.

    This is something that the Israeli elite and its backers in the West should understand. As it has been said on numerous occasions, there will be no security for Israelis unless there is justice for the Palestinians and other Arabs.

    Esteemed Rabbi

    You know all too well that Palestine is under a brutal Apartheid occupation and that Hamas is a legitimate Palestinian resistance group. Historically, violence has been a necessary tool for liberation. It’s utopian to think that the Nazis could have been subdued by peaceful means, just as it is naive to think that the racist Israelis can be subdued by peaceful means.

    The French resistance’s violence against the Nazis is STILL to this day celebrated – because they’re white Europeans, of course. God forbid that a Blackman’ resistance should get equal empathy or support.

    Hamas and other resistance groups in Gaza are today fighting for their liberation and for the safety of their UNARMED people.

    The must be no debate about the Palestinian people’s right to breath air and live in peace in their own native land.

    The horror of Israel’s latest slaughter in Gaza speaks for itself — Even the New York Times, long known for its Zionist tendencies, has been forced to print a few stories about the high number of civilian deaths being caused by the Israeli assault on the “Warsaw Ghetto” they have made of Gaza, noting the hospitals and mosques and private homes where dozens of innocent people have been blown to pieces by Israel’s weaponry (much of it American-made).

    Israel has imprisoned the people of Gaza in a stateless limbo while carefully controlling almost every aspect of their lives, including what medicines they can have, what manufacturing and building materials they are allowed and even, at times, how much food they are allowed to eat to keep the population weakened but just above malnutrition levels. This brutal regimen in daily life is of course punctuated with regular night raids, bombings, kidnappings, “disappearing” and almost weekly civilian’s deaths at the hands of Israeli colonisers. This has gone on year after year. Yet Western media — and Western politicians — are presenting a picture of a nuclear-armed, American-backed ultra-militarist Israel “under siege” from a handful of ineffective rockets fired by factions in Gaza which are answering violence with violence.

    Why are you demanding that Palestinians adopt a Gandhi-like forbearance in the face of murderous oppression and relentless, widespread violence killing their children and families? They are never to respond in kind — unlike the Americans, who have killed hundreds of thousands of people in response to a single attack on their soil. This after killing, by Washington’s own admission, more than half a million children in Iraq with peacetime sanctions — against a nation which had never attacked the United States and posed no threat to it.

    Esteemed rabbi

    Before I put my pen down,

    As a man of G-D can you acknowledge that Israel has been subjecting Palestinian civilians to collective punishment — in clear violation of international law? Can you condemn the seven-year siege that Israel has imposed on Gaza?

    This toxic blend of propaganda, subterfuge and incitement, manipulating the South African Jews into supporting your agenda will have very negative repercussions for this community.

    I do not wish you luck in this absurd agenda. While I write this in my personal capacity, I hope you don’t take it personal.

    Affan Sosibo, African national Congress Youth KZN

  5. 6 Jethro Green 22 Jul
    Editor - I came across this letter and am surprised that you did not carry it:

    The Chief Rabbi
    Warren Goldstein
    Union of Orthodox Synagogues of South Africa
    P.O. Box 46559
    Orange Grove
    Fax: +27 11 485 1497E-mail: [email protected] 

    Dear Rabbi Goldstein 

    Shalom and Salaam 


    We take note of the ANC press statement on the situation in Palestine, particularly in Gaza and your response thereto. We note your objection to this statement and your open and very public challenge to the ANC Deputy- Secretary General to either retract the statement or debate you in public.

     It seems highly unlikely that the ANC will retract this statement – or at least there are no indications that it will. While you have personalized your response to Ms. Jessie Duarte, we note the comments of the ANC’s head of International Relations, Deputy Minister Obed Bapela, who emphasised on Sunday that Duarte’s statement was the position of the ANC, that the party stood by the statement and Duarte, and that the ANC would neither withdraw nor apologise for the statement. We assume, therefore, that Duarte’s statement is representative of the organisation, as we expect that your response is representative of your organisation and constituency.

    We do not know if, or how the ANC will react to your challenge. That is not for us to speculate.Our organisations, however, believe that your challenge is a serious one and provides an ideal opportunity to publicly debate the issue. The timing is also opportune as the world witnesses the carnage being wrought on the innocents in Gaza. While we, Open Shuhada Street (OSS) and the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) cannot, of course, accept a challenge that you issued to another organization, in the spirit of this challenge, we propose to debate you on the issue of Israel’s current onslaught on Gaza. We hereby nominate two well-known and respected individuals, and give you the opportunity to choose with which one of them you are prepared to engage in debate – or both if you are agreeable. We have already approached our nominated persons – Professor Steven Friedman from the Centre for the Study of Democracy at University of Johannesburg, and Mr Zackie Achmat from Ndifuna Ukwazi – who have both agreed to such a debate, and have agreed to allow you to choose between them.
    We believe such an engagement will present an ideal opportunity for the South African public to listen to both viewpoints and subject them to scrutiny, interrogation, discussion and debate.

    We are thus happy to accept your offer of a public debate on the matters discussed in the ANC press statement and, more generally, on the situation in Gaza and the rest of Palestine and Israel. 

    We are prepared to get an independent institution to host this event and take care of all the logistics, and to agree on two co-moderators for the debate. We trust that you will, in good faith, honour our response to your challenge and present us with your availability for the said debate.  We await your soonest response. Yours sincerely   

    Reverend Alan Storey,                                            
    Open Shuhada Street                     

    Palestine Solidarity Campaign
    Salim Vally 

    We didn't carry it because, until right now, we didn't know about it. Thanks for sharing it. [email protected] 

  6. 5 Choni 22 Jul
    If Mr. Sasibo's letter is not a clear message to the Jewish community to get the heck out of here, then one can only wonder what will bring them to their senses.
    Also is it not a clear message that anti-Semitism and anti-Israel is two sides of the same coin.

    Rabbi Goldstein, Is it not clear to you that all your valiant efforts are not defending the Jewish community? They are defending the exile. An exile that 'ended' 66 years ago with the rebirth of our Land.
    Instead of fighting a losing battle with the host government., I beg you to encourage our young generation to leave this exilic 'cemetery'.
    The most righteous of Jews in exile will never find peace or security as long as they have 'evil neighbors' who will not leave them be.
  7. 4 Samuel Shalom 22 Jul
    Just a simple question: What is the Chief Rabbi of South Africa doing in Israel at such a time of crisis when he is needed at home? Does anyone know? he should return immediately!

    Instead of sending letters from Jerusalem in response to complex challenges, as we can see from the powerful letter written by Affan Sosibo of the ANC, the Chief should be standing in front of the camera and fighting for the rights of South African Jews to be heard right here at home!
  8. 3 Choni 23 Jul
    Have there been no comments on Mr. Sisibo's letter?
    (Besides mine - which you have not seen fit to print)
  9. 2 Concerned citizen 30 Jul
    The level of angst of the Jewish community in South Africa is remarkable. What is happening in Israel currently is a duplication of the worldwide struggle against apartheid. Sanctions against Israel are inevitable if the current hawkish regime continues the assault against Gaza. Ps the ANC will always side with the Palestinians as they provided them training and refuge during apartheid, quite unlike the actions of the 1970s and 1980s Israeli government which were pro national party
  10. 1 CLAUDINE FOURIE 02 May
    HAHHAAAAAAA - (Sorry Claudine, I couldn't understand the rest of your rant. Were you on something? -MODERATOR)


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