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Voices

Presenter Damon Kalvari, not anti-Israel but simply pro-peace

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KATHY BAROLSKY

I really enjoyed being part of Jewish Voices for a Just Peace (JVJP) event this past Sunday which looked at spaces for questioning and dissent within the Jewish community.

Popular comedian Daniel Friedman (Deep Fried Man) interviewed seasoned radio personality Damon Kalvari about his experiences of being removed as a presenter from ChaiFM, NOT for expressing an anti-Israel opinion, but for in the past, voicing a pro-peace position.

The event attracted a wide range of beliefs, from right-wing Zionist, to liberal Zionist to people who are further on the left. Is was wonderful to see the tolerance of different people’s opinions in this space, despite disagreement over political views.

A number of people stood up and shared how their stance on Israel has created discord between them and family and friends.

What emerged very strongly, from Damon, is that the mainstream Jewish community in South Africa doesn’t allow any questioning attitude on Israel/Palestine. Even if this is criticism that a democratic government – which Israel labels itself as – should be expected to receive. Some audience members felt this intolerant stance had similarities with the attitudes toward “non-Orthodox Jewish practices”.

There was also an excellent point made by an audience member that it would be wonderful if the Jewish community could condemn homophobia and racism as quickly as it condemns any form of questioning of Israel’s policies.

Unfortunately, two men who attended the event, who were right-wing Zionists, appeared to be unable to listen to others. They interrupted, raised their voices and ordered the audience and Daniel Friedman around.

However, they too were given ample opportunity to express their views. I can’t help but contrast this to the South African Jewish Board of Deputies event with President Jacob Zuma last year, where JVJP members who had booked, and planned to listen quietly, as part of this Jewish community, were manhandled by members of the Community Security Organisation (CSO) and were about to be evicted before a member of the community intervened.

We will continue to give space to everyone who wants to attend JVJP events (as long as they have some form of basic manners) and they will continue to be open spaces where discussion and debate can ensue.

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. yitzchak

    Oct 7, 2016 at 3:00 am

    ‘Like your comrade in arms,DK, you have not appropriately condemned the rocket attacks against Israel,treating them as a traffic violation( see your signature in 2014 condemning Israel)…\”Illegal\”.

    JVJP should rename themselves JWB… Jews without borders, since you condemn all of Israel’s .,legitimate right of self defence.

    Justice to you means Justice for the Palestinians only.’

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