Seeking to close down a row over pro-Israel remarks made by young Jewish sports star David Teeger, South Africa's cricket authorities have confirmed that he will captain the country’s Under-19 team in the World Cup next month.
In an earlier statement, it said it accepted a ruling from a leading barrister that the teenager had not breached its rules and that the matter is “now closed”.
Sources within the South African Jewish community continue, however, to worry that Teeger, 18, will be targeted by a vehemently anti-Israeli pressure group that initially launched vituperative attacks on the youngster. “This issue is by no means over,” a source told the JC.
The Palestinian Solidarity Alliance (PSA) may hold protests outside, and possibly inside, cricket grounds where the Under-19 World Cup is to be played, the source explained. South Africa is the host nation.
The radical group had previously declared that failure to suspend Teeger would “signal support for the enablers of genocide and will promote discord amongst South Africans”. It would also, said the group, contradict South Africa's anti-Israel stance.
Mandy Yachad, one of South Africa's handful of Jewish former international cricket players, says he will refuse to come to the grounds to watch the current senior international series of one-day, T20 and Test matches between South Africa and India.
He told the JC: “I love watching our teams, especially the Test Match at Newlands, but not after what's just happened.”
In an open letter, published in a national newspaper Business Day, he explained: “Regardless of the outcome of the inquiry, the fact that CSA has chosen to go ahead with it endorses the stance taken by the PSA in support of Hamas and against Israel and will encourage bullying and further antisemitic and anti-Israel sentiment.”
The trouble erupted when Teeger, who is also head boy of his prestigious multi-ethnic Johannesburg school, King Edward High, dedicated a Jewish Rising Star sporting award to Israeli soldiers.
“I’m now the rising star, but the true rising stars are the young soldiers in Israel,” he said in a private ceremony in October. “And I’d like to dedicate it to the state of Israel and every single soldier fighting so that we can live and thrive in the diaspora.”
Before the apparent exoneration by CSA, South Africa's chief rabbi Warren Goldstein had weighed in against the controllers of South Africa's third most popular sport.
Accusing it of conducting a “Maoist inquisition”, he said the blame for the initial decision to hold an inquiry was in large part the responsibility of the country's leader, President Cyril Ramaphosa.
The president, according to the chief rabbi, had launched blatantly one-sided attacks on Israel over the current war, stirring up antisemitism and opening the way to the targeting of, and potential violence against, the country's small Jewish minority.
“Cricket South Africa should be ashamed of itself to subject a young schoolboy to a Maoist inquisition to test his ideological purity,” Chief Rabbi Goldstein said in a video placed on YouTube by the Union of Orthodox Synagogues.
Linking the cricket inquiry with anti-Jewish activities by militant groups, including protests outside the main Jewish school in Cape Town, the chief rabbi's video directly addressed Ramaphosa.
He said: “Mr President you have set the tone for all of this because the South African government's targeting of Israel is in effect antisemitic.”
The inquiry itself, by leading barrister Wim Trengove, found that the teenager's remarks were in his personal capacity and were unrelated to cricket and thus not “detrimental to the sport or inter-team relations”, the official grounds alleged by Cricket South Africa. But the Jewish community remains appalled that Cricket South Africa had actually launched the proceedings.
The inquiry had been set up, the chief rabbi pointed out, under the pressure of the Palestinian Solidarity Alliance, “an organisation with ties to Hamas and Iran whose supporters celebrated the killing of 1,200 Jews in October 7 [and] began a hateful campaign against Cricket South Africa”.
The South African parliament, dominated by the African National Congress (ANC), recently passed a motion demanding a complete break in relations between Israel and South Africa. President Ramaphosa, who also heads the ANC, has not so far ordered this move, but has taken to wearing a small Palestinian shawl around his neck.
On a recent visit to oil- and gas-rich Qatar, where Hamas’s top leadership is based, he accused Israel of genocide. However, he has also said he condemns antisemitism.
This is not the first time that the Chief Rabbi has lashed out at the South African regime. On 15 October he remarked: “When you support evil, then you are held accountable for the evil that you support. And this president and his party, and this government, is supporting an evil savagery that has shocked the hearts of all decent human beings in the world.”
Goldstein has also instructed the synagogues under his control to alter the prayer read out on Shabbat and festivals for the government of South Africa. The new wording prays only for the welfare of the South African people, not its government.