The school recently hosted a group of Israeli youth, the Shministim - Israeli high school students who have been imprisoned for refusing to serve in an army that occupies and terrorizes Palestinians. The South African Zionist Federation has since been invited to present "the alternative view" to the pupils.
What follows is my email exchange with the school. The school can be contacted on: email@example.com
Dear Principal Rob le Roux
I am writing to you with great concern.
Your school is a shining example of all that is right in this country, and this has been recently noticed by the Sunday Times recognising Westerford High School as the top state school in South Africa.
It is my understanding that the school recently hosted a group ofIsraeli youth, the Shministim, Israeli high school students who have been imprisoned for refusing to serve in an army that occupies and terrorizes Palestinians. Hosting this group was very much in line with your schools ethos of "respect, respect for oneself, respect forothers (including other beliefs and customs) and respect for possessions and property". The Zionists have absolutely no respect forthe lives, property or well-being of millions of Palestinians.
The South African Zionist Federation (SAZF) now seeks to discredit theimportant work that the Shministim have done. Prominent South African Jews, such as Ronnie Kasrils, have been outspoken against Zionism as a form of racism. The SAZF supports a state that Desmond Tutu says is"practising apartheid-style policies". Rabbi Weiss from the USrecently told South African audiences that, "Zionism is blatant racismand against true Jewish values".
Westerford hosting the SAZF is akin to the school hosting the Apartheid government to justify their rascist policies, during the dark days of Apartheid. I hope that the school decides not to host this racist organisation. If this has been the decision already taken, I apologise for sending this email out of turn.
Dear Mr Randeree
Thank you for your email of concern and for your kind words about the school.
I firmly believe that one of the reasons for the success of the school is that we have fully integrated in all aspects and provide our children with a balanced education going way beyond the confines of the classroom. We encourage questioning and debate particularly with respect to current affairs.
Our HCA (History and Current Affairs Society) have been given the freedom (with educator intervention obviously) to choose whom they would like to invite to speak to the students.
When they requested to invite the Shministim group it was permitted as long as the
alternative view was also aired, hence the invitation to SAZF.
We do realise that it is bound to be controversial but we believe this is the
essential part of education that makes this such a great school.
Once again than you for taking the time to respond, I hope I have satisfied you that
we have matters under control.
R le Roux
Westerford High School
Dear Mr R le Roux
Thank you for you prompt response.
I understand your perspective and it is indeed a difficult situation that the school now faces in dealing with this racist organisation. I am sure the pupils at your school are astute and knowledgeable enough to see through the lies that the Zionist Federation will undoubtedly try to express to them.
However, in terms of the Palestine-Israeli issue, both the Shministim and the South African Zionist Federation (SAZF) both reflect only one side of the debate: the Israeli side. Their debate and differences are an internal Israeli debate and presenting both these views to your students, is essentially giving them an incomplete picture - the Palestinian side is being ignored.
If the SAZF is indeed permitted to address the pupils at Westerford, then I hope that the school will also be willing, in the interests of listening to all sides - to host a Palestinian or a Palestinian solidarity activist as well.
There are many activists in Cape Town (Ronnie Kasrils for example) that will be more than willing to present the other side of the Palestine-Israeli issue. Please feel free to contact me for the details of any of these people.
I look forward to your response in this regard,