Achmat awaits defamation suit

2010-04-19 19:01

Cape Town - Aids activist Zackie Achmat says Chief Rabbi Warren Goldstein's explanation of his decision to sue him for defamation is "altogether unsatisfactory and evasive".

"Although learning through the media of an intended defamation action against me, I have received no letter from the chief rabbi or his attorneys," Achmat said in a statement on Monday.

His statement follows reports on Friday that Goldstein is taking legal action against Achmat over a blog entry claiming that the rabbi supported a ban on Judge Richard Goldstone attending his grandson's bar mitzvah (coming of age).

"The blog blatantly contains falsehoods and untruths," Goldstein reportedly said in a press release, vowing to sue Achmat.

It was reported last week that Goldstone's family and the Beit Hamedrash Hagadol synagogue in Sandton had agreed that Goldstone would not attend the bar mitzvah after the SA Zionist Federation (SAZF) threatened protest action.

'Intolerant people'

SAZF chair Avrom Krengel has denied that there has been any suggestion that Goldstone should be "barred" or "banned" from entering the synagogue.

However, Krengel reportedly said on Monday that the SAZF would protest against Goldstone's presence at the synagogue should he attend the ceremony.

Goldstone, who now lives in Washington, was quoted by the Jewish Report as saying he would not attend the bar mitzvah.

"In the interests of my grandson, I've decided not to attend the ceremony at the synagogue," Goldstone reportedly said.

Goldstone, the former chief prosecutor of the UN's International Criminal Tribunals for the wars in the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, was selected to head the fact-finding mission into the Gaza War in 2009.

In his statement on Monday, Achmat said his blog of April 14 had been a comment on an article in the SA Jewish Report and Jewish Telegraph Agency, "which I had and still have no reason to disbelieve".

He further noted that "the way in which the bar was brought about was in the classic tradition of intolerant people everywhere - of nationalist extremists, fascists, Stalinists and religious fundamentalists alike".

Achmat said he would for now confine his comments to the contents of Goldstein's press release, but he intended to respond more fully "in due course".

- SAPA

Read more on:    richard goldstone  |  zackie achmat
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