Ronnie Kasrils File picture: Cindy Waxa/Ana
Former intelligence minister Ronnie Kasrils has urged Herzlia School to consider the current situation in Israel when dealing with peaceful and dissident protests.

Former anti-apartheid activist Kasrils was addressing the Claremont Main Road Mosque ahead of afternoon prayers yesterday. He was referring to a recent incident at the school where two pupils were punished for kneeling during the singing of the Hatikva, the Israel national anthem.

Kasrils slammed the school’s attitude as bigoted.

“As the saying goes, ‘they took the knee’, a perfectly peaceful expression of dissent popularised by American athletes.

“As has been reported, the school’s authorities said the two students faced ‘disciplinary and educational’ consequences for their ‘deliberate and flagrant disregard for the ethos of the school’.

“Firstly, the school authorities have demonstrated contempt for what Jewish culture has once been famous for: and that is open mindedness, tolerance, the encouragement of independent thinking and freedom of expression.

“Secondly, they treat the student’s actions as shameful - yet the bending of the knee is totally passive and peaceful; a very dignified non-violent demonstration of dissent,” he said.

He then turned his attention to the government, Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel and the Israel-Palestine conflict.

“Firstly, make BDS a powerful tool, as was the case during the Struggle against racist South Africa, to isolate Israel until change comes,” Kasrils, a Jewish man, said.

Earlier in his speech he said the Bible was abused by Zionism, which had emerged in the fall of the 19th century “as a political doctrine”.

Imam Rashied Omar commended Kasrils for speaking out against injustices to the Muslim community in the Israel-Palestine conflict.