Jewish school board to decide fate of top scholar who wore a Palestinian scarf
The King David High School (Victory Park), scholar who caused controversy with his show of support for Palestinians will know Tuesday morning whether he will be stripped of his position.
Last week a picture of Joshua Broomberg, the deputy head boy of King David, was posted to Facebook showing him wearing a badge and a keffiyeh (scarf) in support of Palestinians. The picture was taken at the World Schools Debating Championship in Thailand and was accompanied by text explaining the badges and keffiyeh were to show “opposition to the human rights violations carried out against the people of Palestine.”
A petition was soon circulated by an anonymous group calling itself “Concerned Zionist” demanding that Broomberg be stripped of his status as deputy head boy at the school and to lose his honours award.
The South African Board of Jewish Education (SABJE), which overseas several Jewish schools including King David, told Wits Vuvuzela they were meeting on Monday evening to discuss the controversy and a decision whether to discipline Broomberg would be reached by Tuesday morning.
“The school hasn’t put out a statement yet regarding the matter,” SABJE director Rabbi Craig Kacev told Wits Vuvuzela.
“A decision is being made this evening and will be communicated latest by tomorrow [Tuesday],” he said.
By Monday evening, the online petition to remove Broomberg had reached 2 000 signatures.
According a report in The Star newspaper, Kacev believed that the initial petition had been started by outside groups, not the students of the school or their parents. He also stated that King David would not be bowing to pressure groups, and that Broomberg was a superb pupil who was entitled to return to a safe school environment.
“We are not the ‘thought’ police. Our students are encouraged to talk about and debate issues in Israel, which they do every day. This was blown out of proportion because of heightened sensitivity around the Middle East issues,” Kacev is quoted as saying. “I will be having a conversation with him [Broomberg] to discuss with him the implications of his actions.”
Another petition, this time in support of Broomberg, has since been created on avaaz.org. Intial signatories include 14 former and current head boys and girls of the school, including current Head Girl Jess Weisz, and had reached over 2 150 signatures by Monday afternoon.
“It is difficult to understand where all of this hatred comes from – but growing up in an environment where one is told every day that one is under attack, that the enemy is a monster in the dark, that ‘if we don’t stick together we are doomed’, hatred is a hard thing to escape,” wrote Witsie Saul Musker, one of the debate team members seen in the Facebook photograph, in an Op-Ed about the issue published on the Daily Maverick website today.
“At the heart of this story is a group of brave children who decided to take a stand against what they saw as a grave injustice.”
Wits Vuvuzela: Jewish top student faces criticism after show of support for Palestinians, August 2014.