A human male named Franz Auerbach

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					Jewish Voices South Africa
‘Fostering South African Debate’

The personal credo of Franz Auerbach, 1989

Some people feel a passionate loyalty to a single cause, and look upon themselves as
belonging to a single human group to the exclusion of all others. I am not one of
those…. No, I don’t have a single loyalty, or a single ‘group’ identity. All these strands
are in me: together they make up a single human being who, I hope, has a harmonious
personality perhaps best defined as ‘a human male named Franz Auerbach, born
1923’. I mention my year of birth because like everyone else I am also a ‘child of my
time’, with experiences and perceptions somewhat different from those of earlier and
later generations.

                                                     were in fact, in Franz‟s worldview, all
In the light of the recent death of Franz            „children of God, within one human race‟.
Auerbach, Jewish Voices treasurer and
steering committee member, we decided                In the South Africa of apartheid, in which
to dedicate this issue of the newsletter to          Franz lived much of his life, where so
commemorating the life of an                         many white South Africans, retreated into
extraordinary man, a man who lived all               increasingly parochial, defensive and
aspects of his life in terms of a deeply held        fearful identities, Franz‟s vision of a
humanitarianism, in many ways, as the                common humanity was exceptional. He
Oxford Dictionary defines                            carried this vision through all aspects of
humanitarianism, a visionary                         his life, both political and personal.
philanthropist .
                                                     Jewish Voices interviewed Franz‟s
Franz‟s life in particular epitomised the            daughter, Margaret for a more personal
values, which Jewish Voices espouses,                view of Franz‟s life. What emerges is a
namely a respect for diversity and                   picture of a man who lived his principles in
difference and a commitment to grapple               all aspects of his life, including his role as
with this difference through open                    father and husband.
democratic debate on all major issues
confronting Jewish South Africans.                   As Franz‟s daughter Margaret explained to
                                                     Jewish Voices, „he instilled in us
Franz‟s life was particularly remarkable in          “humanity”, respect for everybody. So
terms of his determination to live out his           much of it was by example, the way he
principles of humanitarianism, through an            lived his life, the respect for other people,
engagement with, rather than denial of,              the way he and my mother were…he was
the complexity of his identity as a Jew, as          completely open, honest, his integrity was
a German refugee, a South African citizen,           incredible, he was (also) completely non-
a man, a white person.                               judgemental. He accepted our choices as
                                                     our own‟.
For Franz being human and connecting
with other people as equal human beings,             According to Margaret, Franz was
meant embracing the diversity of                     throughout his life, „always trying to bring
humanity, both as a personal credo and as            people together…he was never negative,
an affirmation of other human beings, who            his optimism was amazing, he saw no
might appear superficially different, but            point in being pessimistic, he achieved a
                                                     lot as a result‟. Franz was always, even
                                                     under the most apparently intractable
                                                     circumstances, willing to try new
    The Concise Oxford Dictionary: 592               approaches to problems. Margaret

remembers his philosophy as, „how do we         qualified engineer, sold polony and his
know if we don‟t try?‟.                         mother worked as a machinist in a factory.

Franz was until his death, energised by an      While Franz, downplayed the personal
enormous love of life, of “taking life by the   danger to himself and his family as a result
hands” as his daughter Margaret                 of the Nazi ascendancy to power, there is
explained. She recalls that despite the         no doubt that this early experience of
urging of family, until the last days of his    racial prejudice against Jews in Germany,
life, Franz was determined to remain            was to later shape his unshakable belief in
connected with the world and refused to         the value of all human life, regardless of
stop taking calls, retrieving the telephone,    race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation
which he jokingly referred, as his „baby‟,      or any of the other categories that society
from the lounge, where his wife, Noreen,        constructs as the basis for exclusion and
had attempted to hide it.                       discrimination against groups of people.

This zest for life was shared with family in    Franz remained steadfast to these
Franz‟s love for mountain climbing,             principles, even in the context of apartheid
adventurous caravanning holidays and            South Africa, where he found himself
family picnics. Franz also included his four    located in a society premised on racial
children and wife, Noreen in the many           division and the refusal of rights to the
social issues with which he was involved.       majority of black South Africans.
Margaret remembers Franz as “open to
anything”.                                      In an unexpected irony, the same premise
                                                of racial prejudice, which had excluded
This included attending rallies in Soweto,      Franz and his family as Jews from
spending a weekend in Hillbrow with             German society, were now the basis for
Noreen on an „exchange program‟ to              their relative privilege as white South
experience how black South Africans             Africans in their new home. Franz never
lived, travelling to Botswana to attend the     lost sight of this insight and „race relations‟
funeral of a close friend of his son, Ronnie,   became an abiding concern for him,
killed in a South African Defence Force         expressed in a range of activities, which
raid and participating, in post apartheid       intended to dispute the notion of race
South Africa, in one of the first gay pride     classification on which apartheid was
marches in the country with his daughter,       founded, and to promote interaction
Margaret.                                       between the divided races in South Africa.

Early History                                   Fighting racial division

Born in Germany in the shadow of the            Thus Franz was involved for many years
Nazi Holocaust, Franz and his family            with the organisation South African
arrived in South Africa in 1937, Franz by       Institute for Race Relations. In the
then a teenager. After the Nazi‟s had           aftermath of the June 1976 uprising Franz
came to power in Germany in 1933,               was asked to give evidence before the
Franz‟s mother, a dental surgeon, was           Cille Commission as part of its inquiry into
barred, as were all other Jewish doctors        the causes of the Soweto uprising. While
and dentists, from pursuing her career in a     at the Institute for Race Relation, Franz
state hospital. She then attempted to set       also published extensively, producing
up a private practice at home. Soon after       among other publications, a booklet called
this, however, a boycott of Jewish              „ABC of Race‟ targeted at teenage school
business was launched.                          children, which tried to educate children
                                                about race prejudice.
Returning home from school one day,
Franz found an armed storm trooper              The importance of education in building a
standing at the entrance to their building      society free from discrimination and
next to his mother‟s sign, advertising her      intolerance was to remain a lifelong
services as a dentist. This experience          concern of Franz‟s. As Franz‟s wife,
remained a formative memory for the             Noreen, wrote in a booklet dedicated to
young Franz. After arriving in South Africa,    Franz on his 70 birthday, „This theme of
neither Franz‟s parents were able to            teaching tolerance has been an abiding
practice their professions, his father, a       one, which he has put into practice himself

with every fibre of his being throughout his    When, whatever their features, their
career as an educator‟ .                        language and culture,
                                                All in the land are accepted with love:
Franz was keenly aware of the absurdities       ALL CHILDREN OF GOD, WITHIN ONE
of the race classification system, its impact   HUMAN RACE.
on the lives of ordinary South Africans and
its inherent dehmanisation. Illustrative of
his concern about the human cost of racial      A love of education
division and his belief that we all are, as
„children of God‟, of equal value, is this      Franz‟s life was also characterised by an
poem published in 1972 about an                 enduring dedication to education, both the
abandoned baby brought to a hospital on         potential of education to produce
the Christmas eve, later „inspected‟ by an      compassionate, humanitarian citizens and
official of the population registry of the      in the context of the iniquities and
Department of Interior in order to              disparities of apartheid education, the
determine its race. The poem reflects           importance of access to equal education
Franz‟ philosophy of common humanity in         for all South Africans. Throughout his life
opposition to racial classification:            Franz passionately promoted the value of
                                                teaching as a profession and actively
One of the Children of God                      encouraged young people to embark on
                                                this career path.
Found on a doorstep: premature,
parentless                                      Franz‟s commitment to education was in
Half-wrapped and half-starved, a small          addition informed by a specific love of
human child.                                    language and literature, in particular
A foundling fondled and nurtured by             English literature, which he taught for
nurses,                                         many years. Soon after arriving in South
Who responded to love like a flower to the      Africa as a young boy, Franz began giving
sun.                                            English lessons to refugees to contribute
                                                to the household income and so started a
An official has now “inspected” this infant,    life long love of the English language and
“To determine his race”-and report to his       its traditions of literature which he shared
chief.                                          over decades of dedicated teaching with
This paper will land on the Registrar‟s         students and also with his own family.
A case to be decided on, not a small            Franz‟s daughter, Margaret remembers
helpless boy.                                   many rowdy suppers with all four
                                                Auerbach children engaged in passionate
In the land of his birth this innocent baby     debate which would only be settled when
Will be raised or deprived by his               someone from the family went to fetch a
“classification”,                               dictionary or encyclopaedia to resolve the
Based on the baby‟s present appearance,         matter.
On changeable features a ruling clear-cut.
                                                Franz‟s passion for education was
He who decides has not seen this small          expressed both in many years of teaching
baby.                                           at officially „white‟ schools such as Mayfair
Yet, Godlike, he rules-on his welfare and       high school, Athlone Boys and Hyde Park
work,                                           High but also in his extensive work in adult
On who may adopt him, play with him,            education, starting with his involvement
teach him,                                      from 1946 as a teacher at the Mayibuye
Where he may live and whom he may               Night School, one of several night schools
love.                                           established in Johannesburg by teachers
                                                from the Transvaal Teachers Association,
We share your humanity, Baby December,          to try and provide basic education for adult
We pray that your story may hasten the          black South Africans. This work eventually
day                                             led Franz to become part-time Director of
                                                the Johannesburg Night School
                                                Committee as well as a manager at the
                                                Mayibuye Night School itself.
 A Time to Build Up, Franz Auerbach:
Festschrift 70 years, 1993.

However, as the apartheid government            Franz‟s wife recalls, „From the time of our
developed its system of social                  marriage, Franz made kiddush on Friday
segregation, introducing the Bantu              nights, commemorating the seventh day of
Education Act in 1955, the adult education      creation, on which God rested. Now in our
initiatives Franz was involved in were          new home, we started having our own
increasingly curtailed until eventually in      Seder (celebration of the Passover feast),
1967 the Mayibuye Night School was              where at times, there were twenty-two
closed down, the government decreeing           family members and friends participating.
that no night schools for „blacks‟ would be     This commemoration of liberation, with its
allowed in „white‟ areas.                       call to remember those still in bondage,
                                                always had a special place in our year‟ .
Meanwhile Franz‟s position with the formal
education system, the Transvaal                 For Franz, his identity as a Jew was
Education Department (TED), became              inseparable from his desire for general
increasingly untenable after he first made      social justice. He believed that the Jewish
public and then formally published as a         experience and Jewish teaching
book, „The Power of Prejudice in South          compelled him to take a stand on
African Education‟, the product of his          apartheid. He wrote in 1969: „Those who
master‟s research into high school history      are aware of medieval ghettos, of
textbooks and syllabuses which argued           passports stamped „Jude‟ and yellow stars
that Transvaal education system,                on jackets, have the moral obligation to
influenced by the philosophy of Christian       oppose racial discrimination - that is, the
National Education, was being used to           legally enforced inferior treatment of
perpetuate past differences and divide          human beings because of their ethnic
people. Although Franz was charged with         origin, irrespective of personal merit. This I
misconduct by the department for his            must oppose because I am a Jew‟.
public criticism, he was still elected to the
position of president of the Transvaal          Inevitably, given his personal history,
Teachers Association and in 1989 was            Franz maintained an ongoing interest and
awarded a Gold Medal of Honour by the           involvement in issues related to the Nazi
TTA for his contribution to education.          Holocaust, collaborating during the 1960s
                                                with Dr Frieda Sichel on her book, „From
After he did leave the TED, Franz               Refugee to Citizen‟ recording the
remained involved in education, proposing       experiences of Jewish refugees from Nazi
and then later becoming head of an              Germany, who made their home in South
Teachers Centre, which organised study          Africa.
groups for members of the Transvaal
Teachers Association. In this capacity          Franz integrated his knowledge and
Franz was to gain considerable expertise        experience of the Holocaust, with an
in innovative new teaching methodologies,       ongoing concern to make these
running courses on a non-racial basis that      experiences relevant to the South African
benefited many hundreds of teachers.            context. He gave several lectures, in which
                                                he drew explicit links between repression
Franz later initiated and set up an             under Nazi Germany and some aspects of
Independent Teachers Centre, which in           apartheid South Africa. In particular he
1984 set up its offices at the Funda Centre     encouraged Jewish South Africans to
in Diepkloof, Soweto. Franz‟s years of          acknowledge and speak out against
working at the Funda centre in Soweto, led      repression in South Africa, arguing that, „in
him to develop a special connection with        situations of state censorship of news
the people of this township, which he saw,      items, many people accept government
not as a separate area for black people         denials of atrocities, in Germany as in
but rightfully part of his home town            South Africa and elsewhere‟ .
                                                Franz was also involved in Jewish
A Jewish Life                                   communal affairs all his life, beginning with
Throughout his life, Franz remained               A Time to Build Up, Franz Auerbach:
deeply committed to the Jewish faith into       Festschrift 70 years, 1993.
which he had been born and to matters of          Franz Auerbach, „No Single Loyalty, Many
Jewish identity and experience. Noreen,         Strands One Design: A South African
                                                Teacher‟s Life, Waxmann, 2002.

his participation from his school days in      communities in South Africa and remained
the Etz Chayim (Hebrew for Tree of Life)       involved with the Jewish Board until the
congregation established by the German         end of his life.
Jewish community after their arrival in
South Africa. When the congregation            Franz the writer
opened a new synagogue in 1966, Franz
became a member of its council and his         Franz himself was a prolific writer and
son‟s bar mitzvah was the first to be held     therefore the rest of this issue includes
at the recently opened synagogue.              some of Franz‟s own writing on his general
                                               social philosophy and the issues that
Part of the building of the new synagogue      concerned him most.
included a Yad Vashem Memorial Hall to
commemorate those who had died in the          Below is the full text of Franz‟s „Personal
Holocaust and a South African Yad              Credo‟; written in 1989 to articulate
Vashem Memorial Foundation was set up          Franz‟s personal philosophy of „multiple
to provide education about the Holocaust.      identity‟ - his belief that if we could accept
In 1977, Franz was elected chair of the        the complexity and diversity of our
Holocaust Memorial Foundation, a position      personal identity, the possibility of conflict
he held from 1977 to 1982. For many            based on singular, exclusionary identities
years afterwards Franz remained involved       would be reduced. These ideas remain
in education efforts associated with the       extraordinarily potent in a world, which
Memorial Hall, and often gave lectures to      remains to date, deeply divided and un-
visiting students.                             accepting of difference.

Over the years, Franz was involved in          The personal credo of Franz Auerbach,
several commemorative events associated        1989
with the Holocaust and gave public
lectures, which continued to emphasise          ‘Some people feel a passionate loyalty to a
the links between contemporary South            single cause, and look upon themselves
African social problems and the                 as belonging to a single human group to
experience of the Holocaust, in one lecture     the exclusion of all others. I am not one of
in 1990 drawing on the philosophy of            those…. I want to suggest that if most
„Jewish Humanism‟ articulated by Leo            human beings accepted the reality that
Beck, as exemplifying the tolerance             they actually have a multiple identity, this
necessary in turbulent times.                   would prevent many conflicts small or
                                                large. Of course this does not prevent us
In keeping with his ongoing efforts to          from supporting specific causes that we
integrate his experience as a South             come to see as important
African and a Jew within a vision for social
justice, Franz was a founder member of
the organisation Jews for Social Justice,      I hope my life has shown that there are
established in 1985, which was the first       moral values I cherish and practice, with
Jewish organisation to openly oppose the       lapses to the best of my ability. But I am
apartheid policies of the South African        one human being with roots, loyalties and
government.                                    interests derived from my ancestry, my
                                               early life in Europe, my adult life in
Through his involvement in Jews for Social     Johannesburg, and also from my work in
Justice, which joined the inter-faith body     education for most of that time.
World Conference on Religion and Peace,
Franz became an active member of the           Born to Jewish parents, I was reared in the
WCRP as a representative of the Jewish         Jewish religion; my attitude to it has been
community in South Africa. Franz later         shaped not only by tradition but also by my
presented the submission of the WCRP to        experience of the racial persecution of
the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.       Jews by Nazi Germany, and by the
                                               subsequent knowledge of the Holocaust
During the 1990s, Franz accepted a part-       and the identification I have made with
time post with the Jewish Board of             Jewish institutions and organisations;
Deputies, organising an „Outreach‟             partly because of my interest in history,
programme to develop closer contacts and       these include some that commemorate the
interaction between Jewish and black           Holocaust.

                                                  human values and to service of their fellow
But that is only part of me. I have lived in      human beings when they look for a career.
South Africa since 1937, and feel
committed to my country, particularly since       Inevitably, since I have lived in
it accepted my parents and me as                  Johannesburg for most of my life-for more
immigrants when I was young, and many             than half a century-I feel a strong
countries refused shelter to refugees like        attachment to this city, and have worked in
us.                                               many local organisations in such fields as
                                                  adult education and local Jewish affairs. I
To feel committed to South Africa means           should like to see Johannesburg flourish
to be involved in its problems-and here I         because it is „my‟ city.
feel strongly, especially because of the
experiences of my youth, that all South           While I taught in African night schools for
Africans are my fellow citizens, and that         over twenty years, my work there was
their race classification should be               mostly done in central Johannesburg.
secondary to their citizenship. That has          However, during the last few years I have
always been the view of the majority of           been working in Soweto, the African city-or
South Africans, not privileged to be              ghetto, as many of those who live there
classified „white‟, but it is also beginning to   would describe it-that is really part of
be accepted by more „white‟ South                 Johannesburg, through apartheid has
Africans that used to be the case-though          given it a separate administration which is
there have always been some of us whites          expected to run a city of at least 1,5 million
to whom it has also been self evident.            people (no reliable population figures for it
                                                  exist). And so I feel a special affinity for
Believing that all South Africans should          the people of Soweto, among whom I
have common bonds and equal rights, I             worked every day for five and a half years.
have also been active in the field of „race       When Soweto shudders, my heart feels a
relations‟ for many years. Obviously              tremor.
benefiting from my „white‟ race
classification has meant that I have shared       But with all that I neither deny nor feel
the privileges of that status as they apply       ashamed of my roots. I continue to be able
in South Africa, and am well aware of             to speak and read German, to have an
some of the sentiments and attitudes              interest in the people, history and literature
shared by many of my fellow citizens also         of Germany. I am rather proud than
classified „white‟.                               ashamed of the fact that my parents and
                                                  grandparents were Germans of the Jewish
But within that group I also belong to that       faith, and that I can trace one branch of
part of it that is English-speaking, so that I    my family back to Frankfurt-on-Main in
share something of its allegiance to the          1397. Naturally, being Jewish I also have
English language, traditions and literature-      an abiding interest in the welfare of the
especially as I have spent much of my             land and people of Israel-all of them.
professional life teaching English in high
schools. These traditions include what
Donald Woods has called „the habits of             No, I don’t have a single loyalty, or a
free men‟: but I am also committed enough          single ‘group’ identity. All these
to a feminist position to insist that phrase       strands are in me: together they make
today be changed to „the habits of free            up a single human being who, I hope,
people‟.                                           has a harmonious personality perhaps
                                                   best defined as ‘a human male named
Nor is that all. Having spent most of my life      Franz Auerbach, born 1923. I mention
in education I have a deep commitment to           my year of birth because like everyone
the teaching profession. I have always             else I am also a ‘child of my time’, with
been proud to be a teacher. I have worked          experiences and perceptions
in teachers‟ associations, and have                somewhat different from those of
recommended my profession to young                 earlier and later generations.
people as one that brings great rewards
and satisfactions, and that should
therefore be considered as a worthwhile
option by young people committed to

 In this article Franz argues again for the     and a type of work or profession, and have
 importance of recognising our common           special links to a particular province, area
 humanity, and the need to acknowledge          or town which we share with all those who
 that we all play multiple roles in society,    live there. We also differ according to our
 rather than focusing on the exclusive          ages: if you are over 70 - as I am - young
 group identities and stereotypes about         people will feel you are different from
 those identities that divide us.               them, no matter what colour or gender you

                                                Most of us develop fairly fixed habits.
‘We all have humanity in common’                Among them is the habit of socialising with
November 19, 2002, The Star                     a limited number of people. We don't
Newspaper                                       easily add many to our circle of friends -
                                                especially if the new friends don't live near
I should like to expand a little on Theresa     us. Fourways to Zola or Lenasia to
Oakley-Smith's excellent article on             Northcliff is quite a long trek, but we must
stereotyping people according to race           reach beyond "PLU".
(The Star, November 5).
                                                It would help us a great deal - on a
We often tend to see people as members          personal and national level - if we knew
of groups first and as individuals second       more about the lives of those we met at
when they are not members of our own            work or in various social or sporting
group. "They" are all bad, but we reverse       situations. If I had spent ten years in
the order for what Oakley-Smith has called      prison, what effect would that have had on
PLU (People Like Us). S/he's one of us.         my life? I didn't, but probably half or more
Even if s/he's a bad egg, the rest of "us"      members of the cabinet - and a large
are decent.                                     number of members of parliament - spent
                                                years in jail. And many have spent years
It might help to consider this stereotyping     in exile. That, also, must have been
a bit more, however unconsciously it is         traumatic. We should take more
done - meaning it may resist reasoned           opportunities to learn about our fellow
argument.                                       citizens - it would bring us closer together
                                                and improve our understanding of each
Stereotyping usually assumes that all of        other.
"them" have similar unfavourable
characteristics, even though we know that,      We should start by acknowledging that
even in one family, people don't all have       stereotyping is hurtful, not only when it is
similar characters (that's why siblings often   expressed. If most people would make a
quarrel). And then you extend this ("they're    decision to stop calling others by nasty
all stupid/dishonest/incompetent/...") to       names and judge people as individuals
millions of "others" who - in our case - are    first, we would make much progress in
not the same "colour" as we are.                excepting one nation, and intergroup
                                                relations would improve.
Altogether, all human beings have far
more in common than do those in a               Franz Auerbach
specific racial group. If we accepted that,     Yeoville,
we would try to judge all individuals on        Johannesburg
their own merits (as we all want to be
judged), not on the alleged common
qualities of one group they belonged to.
Besides, each of us belongs to a number
of different groups, but stereotyping
ignores that.

Why do so many white South Africans
think they have more in common with a
white Spaniard or Canadian than with a
"coloured" or black South African?

Most of us, apart from nationality and race
group also belong to a language group

This is the last letter, which Franz wrote      to be resumed even if the Jerusalem
to the Star newspaper, only a few days          Temple were to be rebuilt.
before his death. In this article Franz
focuses specifically on the issue of            In the Book of Deuteronomy, the death
sexuality, arguing that biblical                penalty is prescribed not only for murder
prescriptions against homosexuality             but also for being a false prophet, or a
must be seen in historical context and, in      "rebellious son", for adultery, and for
concordance with his belief in the              blasphemy.
diversity and value of all humanity
extends this philosophy here to assert          Now, apart from murder in some societies,
the need to accept people‟s sexual              in our time the death penalty would not be
choices as a valid assertion of one part        imposed for these listed offenses, even by
of their identity and humanity.                 people who follow the Bible quite strictly.

                                                We also know that some of the knowledge
‘Perhaps we could discuss this issue            of past ages was faulty. Until about the
with a little more modesty’                     year 1500 people didn't know about the
September 28, 2004, The Star                    circulation of the blood, or that the Earth
Newspaper                                       revolves around the sun, and until much
                                                later they thought malaria was caused by
It is widely accepted that constitutions set    "bad air" - hence its name.
role models, and that our 1996 constitution
is one of the best models for our times and     The list is long. For countless generations
place.                                          women were blamed if they did not bear
                                                children; now we know the problem (not
And although our constitution prohibits         blame) may lie with the man.
discrimination against "sexual orientation",
homosexual conduct is still widely              In this, as in many other matters, we
condemned in our society. Those who             cannot blame past generations for
wish to condemn other people's behaviour        speaking and acting "wrongly" because
often resort to quoting a specific verse        they didn't know any "better".
from the Bible to "prove" that the Bible
"forbids" homosexuality.                        Yet we should now stop blaming and
                                                judging people when we know the real
What's wrong with that is that the Bible -      causes.
both the Hebrew Bible and the New
Testament - and indeed the Qu'ran, was          We do know better ...
written down at a particular time in history,
and people then living could only see, act      In the matter of the outright condemnation
and discuss their world in the light of the     of sexuality, many religious people insist
knowledge they then possessed, not              on applying the single verse (Lev 18, 22)
outside of it.                                  that prohibits homosexuality - in spite of
                                                much evidence that in all societies and
Inevitably, their writings reflect the          ages there have always been people who
knowledge, practices and attitudes of their     practised it. Could we revisit this issue with
time.                                           just a little modesty?

Many things that we know today were not         Many heterosexual people - in the majority
known then, and apart from acquiring "new       - regard homosexuality as "unnatural". But
knowledge", society has discarded many          since we know it has always been a part of
practices and judgments commonly                most societies, it cannot be "unnatural".
accepted at the time when the Holy Books        The view ignores the fact that conduct that
were written.                                   has persisted so long must have a
                                                physical/psychological basis.
Though the Bible allows (and to some
extent regulates) slavery, we no longer         The condemnations of our scriptures -
practise it. The same is true for polygamy      Jewish, Christian and Muslim - are based
(discarded in Judaism, for example, "only"      on the conviction that the conduct of
about 1 000 years ago). Animal sacrifices       human beings who engage in same-sex
to God, extensively described, are unlikely     relationships originate purely from

wickedness ...

Now that we know that, in most cases, it is
not "wickedness" but "in the genes", could
we not revise our attitude in the light of our
current knowledge?

We should also acknowledge that most
people who engage in same-sex
relationships are, in fact, human beings of
sound intelligence and sound social and
moral habits. Many make valuable
contributions to society.

All human beings have many qualities and
abilities apart from their sexual orientation!
And our constitution states that they
should not be penalised for their sexual

As we have stopped applying some
injunctions in the Bible in the light of new
insights and new knowledge, we should
surely revise our attitude in this field of
behaviour as well, and thus follow the lead
given by our constitution.

Franz Auerbach

Founding Statement                                   As South Africans
Jewish Voices SA
                                                     From our South African experience we have
                                                     also learnt that those with more power need to
Who We Are                                           make the first steps. In the light of this, we
                                                     believe that in order to make negotiations
Jewish VoicesSA is a group of Jewish South           possible, Israel should withdraw its forces from
Africans who, in the light of the South African      the West Bank and the Gaza Strip and be
experience of a negotiated political settlement,     prepared to enter negotiations on a final
seek to promote tolerant, critical dialogue on       settlement-either on the basis on a two state
the Middle East. We affirm the need for              solution or, like in South Africa, on the basis of
diversity of opinion and debate on all major         a unitary Palestinian-Israeli state.
issues confronting Jewish South Africans,
including our engagement in South Africa as          We are aware that other issues like the future
Jews. While we recognise that there are              of Jewish settlers, the status of Jerusalem and
divergent and often opposed views on the             consideration of the plight of people displaced
conditions of a settlement, and while we             from their homes in 1948 need to the subject of
acknowledge too that our distance from the           negotiations. We believe these topics need to
situation leaves us ignorant to some of the          be addressed in due course.
complexities of the problem, we do know from
our South African experience that even               However, we believe that a start needs to be
seemingly intractable conflicts can be resolved-     made to create the atmosphere in which both
provided that both sides are willing to negotiate    sides can resume talks with dignity. As we
in good faith.                                       experienced in South Africa a decade ago,
                                                     such a start should not be held hostage to
Why We Are Concerned                                 individual acts of terror by those who wihs to
                                                     sabotage peace.
We, as Jews in the diaspora, experience the
conflict, not simply through concern for those       We call on all members of the Jewish
people living and suffering there-be they            community to support this statement.
Israelis or Palestinians. We experience the
conflict through the effects that is having on us,
Jewish communities in the diaspora. We see
how the violence is fuelling religious                          JEWISH VOICES CONTACT DETAILS
intolerance, and more particularly, racist
stereotyping of Palestinians and Muslims. We          Executive Committee
see too how the violence feeds a new wave of
anti-Semitic hate-speech and violence. We             Chair: Allan Horwitz
experience a hardening of attitudes and     
relations between Jewish South Africans,
Muslims and others who, correctly or                  Deputy Chair: Barbara Buntman
incorrectly, draw parallels between the history
of apartheid and that of Israel. We have
watched how, as attitudes harden on both              Jessica Sherman
sides, views that question or doubt the official
line are stigmatised as dissident or other.
                                                      Tessa Abramovitz

We acknowledge that there are those amongst           Erica Emdon
us who support the existence of the State of
Israel as a Jewish State and take comfort from
its existence; this, after the dire experience of     Newsletter: Vanessa Barolsky
European Jews in the twentieth century. We  
recognise too that there are others who see
greater Jewish security through a secular
constitutional democracy that accommodates
Jews and Palestinians in a single State.
Despite these differences none of us believe
that the State of Israel can be a place of
security and democracy for Jews, unless it is
also a source of peace and security for all
those who live in the Middle East. We believe
that it is only through an open, democratic
debate that a just solution can be found and
consensus built.


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