Questions for Rabbi Shaked of Beit Emanuel, Johannesburg

The Rabbi’s self-declared role

  • To hold a mirror up to society
  • To speak the truth
  • To hold Israel accountable
  • To demand equality and justice

Holding up a mirror to society

Rabbi Shaked addressed ANC delegates at their policy conference in Johannesburg. He knew that they knew that under the ANC party in power, South Africa is run by criminals for criminals.


In your role of holding a mirror up to society:

Explain why did you not hold it up to that assembly of state plunderers and their pliant ANC office bearers.

Question 2

From your valuable platform you did not protest against the greed and corruption infecting the party from top to bottom, taking our society and economy down with them.

Faced with such an immediate and devastating issue: Explain why you held your mirror to praying and conversion divides in the Jewish world, far removed from that ANC gathering.

Speaking the truth

You declared from the conference podium:

Here in SA we have wider religious tolerance and freedom than in my country, in Israel. It is a source of strength and pride to South Africans as much as it is a source of shame and distress for all Jews.

Reeva Forman, a leader of the Progressive community, doubts whether that gathering understood you to mean the Kotel and Conversion divides between Orthodox and Non-Orthodox. Many Jews indeed would misunderstand you.

Forman believes that your words were totally lost in that gathering of anti-Zionists, especially, one may add, in a hall thick with BDS types.

Without elucidation, you’ll agree that your statement could, and probably was, taken to mean that Israel restricts the freedom to practice Christianity and Islam, and that Jews the world over are ashamed of their country for intolerance towards other faiths.

Question 3

You cast yourself as a fearless speaker of Truth. Surely then you would be ultra careful with words, to prevent lies issuing from your mouth, based on what your audience hears and understands.

You’ll know that Israel is a tiny haven of religious freedom in a vast Christian graveyard. Those in the know, like Tom Holland, say that millennia of Christianity in the Middle East will soon be found only in museums, archives and books. Closer to home, is a single church or synagogue left standing in Hamas-ruled Gaza?  In PA-ruled Bethlehem, Christianity’s cradle, how many Christians remain compared to pre-Oslo days?  Israel alone in the ME is home to a growing Christian minority.

You told the ANC gathering you were “here to speak the truth.”

Question 4

Would you agree that having a go at Jewish intolerance is more rewarding for you, and safer, than having a go at Muslim intolerance?

Question 5

If you do not agree, then provide two local examples, with the repercussions from having a go at Jews, and two examples with the repercussions from having a go at Muslims.

Holding Israel accountable

You told the local Jewish media

“I am here to ensure that Israel is the best it can be.”

By what benchmark? You addressed the party in power since 1994.  What better metric to compare the two societies than violence?

Totalling all the Intifadas and mini wars with Gaza, the IDF killed some 9 900 Palestinians over 25 years, or 396 per year, while South African criminals killed some 394 000 victims over 23 years = approx. 17 000 per year.

  • The disparity staggers the mind, even before adjusting for differences between war victims and murder victims. The latter would be near 100% innocent, while the Palestinian war toll would contain not less than one-third “militants” killed by their own acts of suicide bombing or shooting or firing rockets or directing the above.
  • For the real picture killers don’t belong in such a toll. Narrowed down to civilians, Israel killed some 6 500 innocent Palestinians over a quarter century, or 260 per year. S Africans (not at war with anyone) murdered 17 000 per year over a comparable time and span.
  • Conclusion: At war Israel’s killing toll is 65 times lower than the killing toll in ‘peaceful’ S A

You took the platform to speak the truth to the governing party. Here was an atrocious indictment on South African society – violence –  all the more so compared to the record of your own country. Instead you seemed to let the opportunity slip for holding up Israel as an example to SA, and ranted about a religious rift between Jews.

Question 6

Please account for your odd choice of platforming, giving an example or two when Israel managed to clear the high bar you set for it, and you acknowledged in public that Israel was the best it could be.

 Demanding equality and justice

But for whom, and for what? .

Question 7

You have made yourself out to be some kind of a moral firebrand.

Explain why a moral firebrand would platform Jews fighting Jews at a gathering of anti-Zionists who already don’t like white ‘colonialist’ Jews for descending from Europe to ‘take Palestine’ from the native people.

About the Author
The writer is a prolific author of novels and non-fiction, essayist and commentator on ‘Enemies of Zion’ which happens also to be the title of his latest book. His works are The Paymaster, 1998; Hadrian’s Echo, 2012; Contributor to ‘War by other means: Israel and its detractors’, 2012; Enemies of Zion, (for publication 2017); and Balaam’s curse ( a novel in progress)