Kasrils comes to Broomberg's defence

Ronnie Kasrils has described the petition against Joshua Broomberg as “despicable” and “disgraceful”.

Joshua Broomberg poses with fellow members of the South African national debating team wearing Palestinian badges and keffiyehs in opposition to the human rights violations carried out in Gaza. Picture: Facebook.com.

JOHANNESBURG - A petition against a King David Victory Park School pupil who expressed his views on the crisis in Gaza has been described as "despicable" and "disgraceful".

The schools' deputy head boy, Joshua Broomberg, was tagged in a photograph on Facebook with his debating team colleagues wearing traditional Palestinian scarves and flags.

This sparked massive controversy and led to an online petition calling for him to be stripped of his school honours.

While hundreds of people signed the petition, its demands have been described as "disgraceful" and "despicable" by former government minister Ronnie Kasrils.

Kasrils has compared Broomberg to anti-apartheid icons like Braam Fischer and Joe Slovo, saying he is clearly made of "sterling stuff".

"It's disgraceful and shows intolerance to someone expressing their views and is entitled to do so."

The South African Board of Jewish Education's Rabbi Craig Kacev says they've been speaking to Broomberg and his family.

"We encourage critical thinking, we encourage our learners to debate and there's no censorship in our school."

Broomberg, who is also the captain of the South African National Debating Team, has meanwhile defended his views, saying one can support Israel while criticising its actions.

In his reply, Broomberg said he is capable of loving Israel while criticising the Jewish state.

Protests have now been held in South Africa by both pro-Israel and pro-Palestine groups while just this weekend, 500 Jews signed a petition calling for peace in the Middle East.

Earlier, King David Victory Park School said it would not suspend its deputy head boy and said it will rise above the social media storm which has broken out.

The school said it won't take away anyone's right to freedom of expression, adding it won't be pressured into taking action against Broomberg.

Click here to read the petition.

Meanwhile, another petition has since emerged in support of Broomberg.

The petition says silencing young people is not in the spirit of the Jewish community.

It has been signed by former head boys and head girls of the King David School from between 2006 and last year.

Click here to read the petition in support of Broomberg.