Joshua Broomberg, right, and his debating team wore Palestinian scarves in protest against human rights abuses in Gaza.
Joshua Broomberg, right, and his debating team wore Palestinian scarves in protest against human rights abuses in Gaza.

SA teen in Gaza Facebook storm

By SHAIN GERMANER Time of article published Aug 11, 2014

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Johannesburg - Should having a different political ideology to your school mean you should have your honours revoked, your title as deputy headboy rescinded and result in a possible suspension?

About 2 000 people seem to think so, after a petition to do exactly that to King David Victory Park (KDVP) High School deputy head boy Joshua Broomberg garnered significant support at the weekend.

The teenager provoked anger from some sectors of the Jewish community for being tagged in a photo on Facebook wearing a Palestinian scarf and Palestinian flag in the form of a badge.

The caption of the photo read: “Team South Africa wearing Palestinian badges and Keffiyehs to show our opposition to the human rights violations carried out against the people of Palestine.”

This image elicited such an angry response from one anonymous supporter of Israel that they started a petition against the teen.

The person, claiming to speak on behalf of the Jewish community, called for “Broomberg (to) be removed from his position in office as deputy headboy and further be removed from the SRC.

“We secondly humbly request that in accordance with KDVP’s revised disciplinary procedure, that Broomberg have his honours revoked”.

But Broomberg, captain of the SA national debating team, posted an eloquent response on Facebook, defending his right to free speech.

“While I apologise for the hurt we seem to have caused, I do not apologise for standing with Palestine on this issue. This is not because I do not believe in Israel.

“I do believe in Israel and I take this stand because I can love and support the state of Israel, but still reject and criticise some of its actions,” Broomberg wrote.

“In my eyes, this criticism is not a betrayal but the only honest and true way to show my patriotism and commitment to Israel, as well as my belief in human rights and the entitlement of all citizens of all countries to those rights.”

As the attacks on Broomberg persisted across Facebook, former leaders of the school came to his defence, starting their own petition to call for an end to the criticism.

It was signed by former headboys and -girls of the school since 2006 who insisted that silencing Broomberg was not in the spirit of the Jewish community.

“This was a courageous action on his behalf. KDVP should be proud that they are nurturing leaders of this calibre. We ask that you ignore these calls.”

The South African Board of Jewish Education said the school would engage in a proper conversation with Broomberg before considering any action.

The Star

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