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Countering Bias and Misinformation mainly about the Arab-Israel conflict

AN OPEN LETTER TO JUSTICE CHASKALSON

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About Maurice Ostroff

From Maurice Ostroff

in response to the letter in the right hand column below

 

February 4, 2009

Dear Justice Chaskalson,
 

What’s happening to the right to a fair hearing”

I refer to the document “Chaskalson and others speak out on inhumane destruction in Gaza”, posted on the SASHRIP web site on January 30.
 
As a former member of the Springbok Legion, an organization established by World War 2 veterans that became the first mass white movement to oppose apartheid in South Africa, I sincerely admire the courage you displayed in the Rivonia Trial and your involvement in so many other challenges against apartheid laws. 

 

And while I am sure that your signature to the above document was motivated by the kind of humanitarian concerns that led you to oppose apartheid, I respectfully suggest that you would not have concluded that Israel is guilty of  inhumane and disproportionate collective punishment prohibited under international law” if the media had provided more balanced information.

 

Sadly, even highly respected members of mainstream media have been proven to display blatant bias and even distortions as in the Al Dura affair. Even Reuters and AP have pleaded guilty to egregious lapses as described on my web site at  http://maurice-ostroff.tripod.com/id62.html  and  http://maurice-ostroff.tripod.com/id90.html.

 

As happened in Jenin, many accusations against Israel have proved to be groundless and similar occurrences are now coming to light in the case of the Gaza operation. A recent report in the Canadian Globe and Mail confirmed that earlier damming reports, accusing Israel of firing shells into an UNWRA school, have been proven to be false. Contrary to reports, no one in the school grounds had been killed and UNRWA's John Ging has admitted that Israel didn't attack the school. You can read the full report at http://maurice-ostroff.tripod.com/id201.html


 

In view of the proven unreliability of the media, and in the absence of the results of an impartial investigation it is evident that Israel has been denied a “fair hearing”.

 

And as you stressed the importance of a “fair hearing” in your paper, “What’s happening to the right to a fair hearing” published in the Israel Law Review last year, I respectfully ask you, sir, to please reconsider your support for the unproved accusations by the 300 plus Jewish signatories, pending examination of the type of evidence you would require in a court of law.

 

It is also very difficult to understand why none of the more than 300 signatories, who profess to be knowledgeable and concerned about events in Gaza, considered it sufficiently important to protest the inhuman cold-blooded torture of the family of kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit. They have been tormented by being deliberately kept in the dark about his condition, and even his very existence, since June 2006.

 

As persons concerned about their fellow human beings, it would have been an act of human kindness were they to have appealed to Hamas to at least allow visits to Shalit by the Red Cross. (Article 70 of the Geneva Convention clearly states that Immediately upon capture, or not more than one week after arrival at a camp, every prisoner of war shall be enabled to write direct to his family and Article 71 stipulates that prisoners of war shall be allowed to send and receive letters and cards)

 

Sincerely
Maurice Ostroff
 
 

 

Statement by Jewish Board of Deputies,

Zionist Federation and Chief Rabbi

South African Jewish Community on the Situation in Gaza,

 

January 7, 2009

 

The South African Jewish Community firmly supports the decision of the Government of Israel to launch a military operation against Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Bearing in mind the inevitable loss of life which occurs in every military conflict, we share with the citizens of Israel the heavy heart with which they have embarked upon this operation. Israel has done everything in its power to avoid the situation which it finds itself in, including the dismantling and evacuation of all Jewish Settlements in Gaza over 3 years ago. Israel’s gesture of peace however, has been met by a barrage of thousands of missiles which have rained down upon the villages, towns and cities of southern Israel.

 

Hamas’ decision to fire, without provocation, approximately 80 rockets per day into Israel after the expiry of the recent cease fire forced the Government of Israel to take the necessary steps which ever civilised State is required to do in order to protect its own citizens from further terror and attacks. We hope that the Israeli Defence Force is able to carry out its mission with the minimum loss of life and casualties.

 

The Jewish Community of South Africa calls upon the South African Government as well as the ruling African National Congress Party (“ANC”) to act in a balanced and constructive manner towards the conflict in Gaza. We hope that the Government and the ANC use its special relationship with the Palestinian leadership to persuade them once and for all to enter into peaceful negotiations with Israel. These negotiations will hopefully lead to the fulfilment of what the South African Government and the ANC have repeatedly stated is the desired outcome for the region, namely the achievement of a two-State solution which allows Israelis and Palestinians to live peacefully side by side with one another.

 

The leadership of the South African Jewish Community understands that many citizens of South Africa have strong ties to participants in the Gaza conflict and we urge the communities in question to join the Jewish Community in ensuring that the conflict in the Middle East is not imported into South Africa and is not allowed to disrupt the excellent relationships which exist between all of the communities and peoples of South Africa.

 

 

Response by members of the South African Jewish community to a statement by the Jewish Board of Deputies, Zionist Federation and Chief Rabbi concerning Israel's attack on Gaza           January 11, 2009

 

South African Jews condemn the Israeli attack on Gaza

 

January 29, 2009

 

Posted on the web site of South Africans Supporting Human Rights in Israel and Palestine (SASHRIP)  http://www.sashrip.org/

 

South African Jews have issued a statement condemning the Israeli attack on Gaza. The statement is in response to a statement supporting the attack that was issued by the South African Jewish Board of Deputies, South African Zionist Federation and Chief Rabbi, claiming to speak on behalf of the South African Jewish community.

 

If you are a member of the South African Jewish community and you wish to endorse this statement, please send an email by clicking here.

 

 

The Jewish Board of Deputies, Zionist Federation and Chief Rabbi have issued a statement titled "South African Jewish Community on the Situation in Gaza." It claims that the "South African Jewish Community firmly supports the decision of the Government of Israel to launch a military operation against Hamas in the Gaza Strip."

 

We are members of the South African Jewish Community. While we recognise the existence of communal structures, we are distressed that they purport to speak for us and the many Jews who are uncomfortable with the destruction in Gaza, claiming one collective view for the entire community. Given the divergence of opinion within the community, their approach is irresponsible and we are forced to respond.

 

We are dismayed by the disproportionate use of force by the Israeli military in Gaza. So far over 750 Palestinians and 13 Israelis have been killed. Many of the Palestinian casualties are civilians -- unarmed and uninvolved in any operations against Israel. We deplore all the lives lost whether in Sderot or Gaza. We are acutely aware that while parts of Southern Israel have lived under the constant threat of Hamas rockets, the residents of Gaza are experiencing significantly greater terror and destruction.

 

We strongly oppose the rockets Hamas has been firing into Israel before and during this bombardment. These have deliberately targeted civilians and we call on communities and groups vocal in their support for the Palestinians to condemn these, as we do.

 

As members of the Jewish community we recognise that Israel's response is an inhumane and disproportionate collective punishment prohibited under international law. We also condemn the long siege Israel has inflicted on the people of Gaza and call for this to be immediately lifted to allow food, medical supplies, fuel, electricity and foreign aid to reach credible agencies in Gaza.

 

We call for an immediate ceasefire by both sides and lifting of the siege of Gaza. We also recognise that Gaza's fate, in the minds of Palestinians and in reality, cannot be severed from the West Bank and that ending the occupation in the West Bank is a critical part of resolving tensions in the region.

 

Reaching a negotiated settlement between Israelis and Palestinians is an extremely difficult challenge as it is and the attack on Gaza moves us further away from this goal. We also call on the Jewish Board of Deputies not to exacerbate local tensions with statements that demonstrate a lack of compassion for Palestinian lives.

 

Signed:

 

Nathan Geffen

Doron Isaacs

Leah Abramsohn

David Adler

Jill Adler

Josie Adler

Taffy Adler

Melanie Alperstein

Neil Alperstein

Miriam Altman

Robyn Aronstam

Jane Arthur

Jess Auerbach

Margaret Auerbach

Laurel Baldwin-Ragaven

Mandy Barnett

Steve Barnett

Vanessa Barolsky

Deborah Baron

Peter Barron

Sheila Basel

Sam Beckbessinger

Keren Ben-Zeev

Jonathan Berger

Bonnie Berkowitz

Kathy Berman

Lael Bethlehem

Roz Berzen

Jodi Bieber

Janice Bleazard

Graeme Bloch

Leila Bloch

Mandy Bloch

Alexei du Bois

Bradley Bordiss

Joel Bregman

Mervyn Bregman

Vardi Bregman

Pam Britt

Murielle Broccardo

Alan Browde

Daniel Browde

Suzie Browde

Emma Browde

David Bruce

Steven Budlender

Barbara Buntman

Tony Carr

Tali Cassidy

Jared Chaitowitz

Daniel Chalef

Talya Chalef

Lorraine Chaskalson

Ivor Chipkin

Max G. Cohen

Sara B. Cohen

Tracy Cohen

Viv Cohen

Audrey Coleman

Max Coleman

Neil Coleman

David Cooper

Di Cooper

Linda Cooper

Sonya Cotton

Claudette Davis

Joshua Davis

Liat Davis

Mike Dickman

Rosemary Dirmeik

Gordon Driver

Rodney Ehrlich

Erika Elk

Gabi Elte

Daniel Eppel

Lauren Fabian

Lindsay Falkov

Bernie Fanaroff

Merle Favis

Judy Favish

Fran Favero

Andrew Feinstein

Lesley Feinstein

David Fig

Alan Fine

David Fine

Diane Fine

Joe Fine

Nicholas Fine

Arden Finn

Meghan Finn

Micaela Finn

Roslyn Fish

Timothy Fish Hodgson

Sharon Fonn

Arlette Franks

Linzi Fredman

Melvyn Freeman

Louise Frenkel

Adrian Friedman

Michel Friedman

Tessa Frootko Gordon

Claudia Gastrow

Shelagh Gastrow

Vanya Gastrow

Ingrid Gavshon

Stephen Gelb

Leon Geffen

Mark Gevisser

Denis Goldberg

Ian Goldman

Sue Goldstein

Keith Gottschalk

Nadine Gordimer

Harris Gordon

Jeremy Gordon

Lara Granville

Margaret Green

Nick Groll

Simon Groll

Sally Gross

Heidi Grunebaum

Shirley Gunn

Gabriela Habib

Hillary Hamburger

Tony Hamburger

Anton Harber

Jesse Harber

Zara Harber

Joey Hasson

Alan Hirsch

Ros Hirschowitz

Liz Hodes

Rebecca Hodes

Anthony Hodgson

Jonathan Hoffenberg

Allan Horwitz

Suzanne Hotz

Gilad Isaacs

Maureen Isaacson

Shifra Jacobson

Nicole Jaff

Gaili de Jager

Teri-Anne Jedeikin

Susan Jowell

Steve Kahanovitz

Lesley Kahn

Michael Kahn

Daniel Kaliski

Sean Kaliski

Michael Kawitzky

Elle Katzeff

Skye Katzeff

Daniel Kaplan

David Kaplan

Norman Kaplan

Richard Kaplan

Liebe Kellen

Lee Klawansky

Judy Klipin

Matthew Krouse

Tessa de Kock

Lara Koseff

Denis Kuny

Neil Kuny

Stephen Laufer

Mirna Lawrence

Brenda Leibowitz

Cornelius Lehr

Erica Leon

David Lewis

David Robert Lewis

Simmy Lewis

Simone Lewis

Melissa Levin

Richard Levin

Dinky Levitt-Cumpsty

Emma Levy

Leon Levy

Lorna Levy

Moira Levy

Leon Linz

Alan Lipman

Beata Lipman

Jane Lipman

Dena Lomofsky

Lynne Lomofsky

Sharon Lomofsky

Leslie London

Janet Love

Bev Lurie

Daniel Mackintosh

Nigel Maister

Neva Makgetla

Estelle Malamed

Max Marx

Heather McKenzie

Eric Miller

Stephanie Miller

Mike Morris

Ruth Munitz

Paul Musker

Sam Musker

Saul Musker

Sonja Narunsky-Laden

Lauren Niedel

Herby Opland

Adina Oram

Mark Orkin

Nadia Oshry

Nina Ostrovsky

Robyn Patz

Sonia Perkes

Clive Pintusewitz

Sarah Polonsky

Colin Purkey

Jeremy Raizon

Steven Robins

Rebecca Kahn

Philip Krause

Robert Krause

Glenda Kruss

Abe Parse

Keiran Peacock

Tess Peacock

Jaqui Perkes

Lesley Perkes

Avi Perpinyal

Laura Phillips

Romaney Pinnock

Jennifer Pogrund

Deborah Posel

Ilan Price

Max Price

Jessica Price

Nik Rabinowitz

Colleen Radus

Ariella Raucher

Shawn Reitstein

Maxine Reitzes

Anton Richman

Maureen Robinson

Hazel Rochman

Hymie Rochman

Peter S. Rosmarin

Tevia Rosmarin

Neville Rubin

Jeff Rudin

Jared Sacks

Kim Sacks

David Sanders

Pamela dos Santos

Simon Sarembock

Jennie Sassoon

Charlotte Schaer

Kira Schlesinger

Minky Schlesinger

Romi Schneider

Maya Schkolne

Mara Jo Scop

Paul Scop

Peta Scop

Lauren Segal

Justin Sennett

David Shandler

Julia Shapiro

Leonard Shapiro

Yvonne Shapiro

Rosemary Shapiro-Liu

Samuel Shapiro

Michael Shemer

Jessica Sherman

Rena Sherman

Sandy Shoolman

Gavin Silber

Melinda Silverman

Nathan Sklair

Lynnsey Skliros

Mervyn Sloman

Penny Smith

Carol Steinberg

Jonny Steinberg

Brett Steingo

Gavin Steingo

Joel Steingo

Sally Steingo

Eitan Stern

John Stodel

Terri Strauss

Caroline Suzman

Alison Swartz

Leslie Swartz

Rebecca Swartz

Lyn Taitz

Carly Tanur

Dee Tarboton

Ilona Tip

Jessica Thorne

Colette Thorne

Jill Thorne

Zoe Tookey

Ariel Townsend

Lesley Townsend

Rebecca Townsend

Shereen Usdin

Chantal Valentine

Sheila Vanderplank

Howard Varney

Tara Weinberg

Jade Wasserman

Sean Wasserman

Jon Weinberg

Matthew Wolf

Robyn Woods Shapiro

Naashon Zalk

Nimrod Zalk

Zapiro

Kelly Zimbler

 

Chaskalson and others speak out on "inhumane" destruction in Gaza

As South African Jews we wish to identify ourselves with the sentiments expressed in the statement by over 300 South African Jews entitled “Response by members of the South African Jewish community to a statement by the Jewish Board of Deputies, Zionist Federation and Chief Rabbi concerning Israel's attack on Gaza”, condemning the excessive force that has been used by Israel.

 

Whilst we unreservedly condemn the firing of rockets at Israeli towns by Hamas, we consider Israel’s response which has caused widespread death, destruction and suffering in Gaza to be inhumane and disproportionate. 1300 Palestinian residents of Gaza and 13 Israelis have already lost their lives, in a conflict that is likely to inflame feelings in the region, and holds out little prospect for peace.

It is critically important that these recent events do not imperil relations between sectors of South African society, and vital that people of all faiths and none engage with the issues at stake rationally, in good conscience and with due regard to international law including international human rights law.

We fervently hope that the recent cease fire will hold, that obstacles to a lasting peace in the region will be removed, and that negotiations now take place with the necessary political will of all the parties concerned to secure a just and lasting peace.

Justice Arthur Chaskalson
Jules Browde S.C.
Dr Selma Browde
Geoff Budlender S.C.
David Goldblatt
Nadine Gordimer
William Kentridge
Justice Carole Lewis
Gilbert Marcus S.C.
Professor Gill Marcus
Rick Menell
Sir Antony Sher
Gillian Slovo
Dr AnnMarie Wolpe

 

 

 

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