While several reporters and celebrities drew flak for sympathizing with Palestinians who are under attack by the Israel Defense forces, one person – quite surprisingly – received overwhelming support for doing so.
South African Jewish schoolboy Joshua Broomberg uploaded a photo on Facebook in which he and his two friends were wearing Palestinian scarves and buttons accompanied by a message reading "Team South Africa… show our opposition to the human rights violations being carried out against the people of Palestine."
The photo was apparently taken in Thailand where Broomberg and his colleagues were competing in the World Schools Debating Championship.
The social media post – which came at a time when Israel is bracing for war crimes inquiries on Gaza – predictably triggered outrage in a segment of the South African Jewish community.
However, contrary to previous cases and despite much criticism, Broomberg was greatly applauded for his views.
Rabbi Craig Kacev, general director of the South African Board of Jewish Education, which runs Broomberg’s school King David Victory Park, said the boy would not be suspended and defended the student’s right to free speech.
“We encourage critical thinking, we encourage our learners to debate and there’s no censorship in our school,” Kacev told South Africa’s Eyewitness News.
Subsequently, Broomberg apologized in a Facebook post for creating unintentional uproar, but said he didn’t regret for speaking out for the people in Gaza.
“While I apologize for the hurt we seem to have caused, I do not apologize for standing with Palestine on this issue,” he wrote.
In the past few weeks, ever since the Israel military offensive began in Gaza, suggesting support for Palestinians didn’t seem to be an option for anyone.
Artist Rihanna posted the hashtag “#FreePalestine” on her official Twitter feed on July 15. But she took the post down within just eight minutes before she started receiving a barrage of replies.
Similarly, NBA player Dwight Howard also made a brief stand on the Israel-Gaza conflict. He had to delete his pro-Palestine message within 15 minutes with the following comment:
“Previous tweet was a mistake,” Howard tweeted. “I have never commented on international politics and never will."
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However, Broomberg showed the world that no one should have to apologize for expressing solidarity with those who are suffering at the hands of forces much more powerful than them and no one should be afraid of being criticized for stating what is right and just.