A sad day when it becomes controversial to call for peace in the Middle East

The South African Zionist Federation (SAZF) respects former Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng’s choice to “comply with all lawful orders however much we might disagree with them” after he was ordered to apologise by the Judicial Conduct Appeals Committee (JCAC) for his balanced statements supporting peace in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. 

We commend the former Chief Justice’s statement that, in his words, “I have not been ordered to renounce the Holy Bible; I have not been ordered to renounce prayer, and I have not been ordered to renounce my love for Israel and Palestine and my love for the Jews and the Palestinians as well as my love for all people.”  We also note further that the ruling was not unanimous with Judge Victor clearing him of any wrongdoing.

The SAZF finds this ruling disappointing and misguided. It is neither tendentious nor controversial to call for peace in the Middle East or any part of the world. It is common decency to make such remarks, unlike the complainants in this case, who actively and regularly call for the destruction of the world’s only Jewish State. 

Had he made remarks about peace between Ukraine and Russia, or China and Taiwan, would there have been a similar furore and outcome? Of course not. 

The former Chief Justice should never have been censured for his comments on the Jerusalem Post panel discussion (the centre of this controversy), which were seized on and politicised by antisemitic factions. The SAZF condemns the coordinated and sustained attack by the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement on the former Chief Justice. BDS will stop at nothing to work against Israel and Jews around the world. We are concerned this will have a chilling effect on the discourse surrounding Israel and further bolster the extremist voices intent on derailing the cause of peace in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. 

Whilst the former Chief Justice’s now censured remarks related to peaceful engagement with the Middle East, we await the Judicial Conduct Committee’s (JCC) decision on Judge Siraj Desai in response to his public support for the violent organisation of Hamas, an extremist organisation that has called for the killing of all Jews. We look forward to an appropriate and speedy resolution of this complaint. If the JCC does not find Judge Desai in contravention, it will expose a serious double standard in the Judiciary.