ANC applauds schoolboy, team

Johannesburg - King David Victory Park deputy head boy Joshua Broomberg and his two national debate team-mates embody South Africa's constitutional principles, the ANC said on Tuesday.

This was after they showed support for the Palestinian people by wearing a Palestinian scarf at the World Schools Debating Championships (WSDC) in Thailand, spokesperson Zizi Kodwa said in a statement.

"The African National Congress applauds the principled stance taken by these students to voice their opposition to the injustice of the Israeli aggression against the defenceless people of Palestine."

The ruling party believed that in the interests of entrenching democracy and promoting a just world order, a nation needed to produce conscious and activist young people determined to contribute to a more humane world.

Earlier on Tuesday, the SA Board of Jewish Education said in a statement that Broomberg had apologised for the furore over the picture of him wearing the Palestinian scarf.

"This has been a learning opportunity for the 17-year-old pupil concerned [Broomberg] and he has both explained his stance in a later posting and genuinely apologised for the hurt it produced," the board said in a statement.

"We acknowledge that the picture posted was insensitive and hurtful and was seen as such in the community.

"We appreciate his clarification to the community and he has further submitted an apology to his school for his actions. His apology has been accepted."

The board said Broomberg had had a great deal to offer to the school over the years and had achieved notable successes.

"We recognise that the conflict that is taking place in the Middle East is devastating and the loss of all life and injuries sustained are deeply painful to us," the board said.

The board considered the matter to be closed, with no further action to be taken.

The ANC called upon all progressive and peace loving South Africans, including those of Jewish faith, to support the actions of Broomberg and others like him who were prepared to stand for a better world.

Online petition

Broomberg was tagged last week in a photo on social media platform Facebook with two others wearing the keffiyeh, recognised as a Palestinian symbol, and Palestinian badges.

The picture's caption read: "Team South Africa wearing Palestinian badges and keffiyehs to show our opposition to human rights violations carried out against the people of Palestine. #WSDC2014".

The online petition was launched soon thereafter, calling for Broomberg's removal as deputy head boy and as a member of the school's student representative council, as he had brought the school into disrepute.

By Tuesday afternoon, over 2 000 people had signed the petition.

On Friday, Broomberg posted a statement on his Facebook page where he apologised as the picture was not intended to "create an uproar", "offend, or upset".

However, he said he was a proud South African Jew, proud to attend a Jewish day school, and was also a Zionist.

He believed in Israel's right to exist and defend itself, while all citizens in Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza had an absolute right to live in peace and security.

Broomberg said while he loved and supported the state of Israel, he still rejected and criticised some of its actions.