Many of you have already read this news from JTA:
South African judge Richard Goldstone has been barred from attending his grandson’s bar mitzvah.
Following negotiations between the South African Zionist Federation and the Beth Hamedrash Hagadol in Sandton, an affluent suburb of Johannesburg where the event is due to take place, an agreement was reached with the family that will keep Goldstone from attending the synagogue service early next month.
For myself, I can only say that this hurts my heart, I want to reach out to Jewish friends today who reject this hateful edict. The crisis of Israel is a crisis for Jewish communities around the world. The Israeli crisis, and this news, demonstrate what we have always tried to talk about, and that Walt and Mearsheimer addressed: the Diaspora is essential to the Israeli state, and any hedge on that support is perceived as an assassination. (This is also J Street’s problem.)
Of course we all think about 71-year-old Judge Goldstone not being able to see a big moment in the life of his grandson, and we honor what he did with his amazing Goldstone report, which is a part of Jewish history as well as Palestinian history and the history of international law, too. A few years back Henry Siegman said that he has family members who do not talk to him–another man who has accepted the red badge of courage. Siegman has grown from this injury; maybe Goldstone will too.
Two other thoughts. Famously at Hebrew University, on the 300th anniversary of Spinoza’s birth, the scholar Joseph Klausner declared that the excommunication of Spinoza by the Amsterdam rabbis was lifted. It was a symbolic moment. Maybe it will come quicker this time for the fine judge.
My own grandfather was something of a scoundrel. At my bar mitzvah in Baltimore 40 years ago he gave me a 100-dollar bill, and a bunch of friends crowded round to look at it, and a few minutes later I could not find it. The story is produced as evidence that I am allergic to money, which is true enough; but lately my mother has told me via my sisters that they think that my grandfather took it back, or I put it down, and he pocketed it. So today for me the story is about my sisters and my mother being much shrewder than I am. What does this story have to do with anything? I have carried it for 40 years, it is one of my gifts, worth a lot more than the money. My heart hurts for Goldstone’s grandson, deprived of a vital interaction. He has been hurt by the Zionist community more than the judge, let him learn from that.