In a letter to its colleagues and students, the Senior Executive Team from the University of the Witwatersrand has described as “devious” the action of the Wits Palestinian Solidarity Committee’s booking of the lawns under the pretence of other activities. It was stressed that the students had deliberately misled the university management, and that this had far-reaching consequences: “This kind of disruptive, deceitful action cannot be dealt with through security,” the letter stated.
The annual week of anti-Israel hatred and Jew-baiting fest, aka “Israel Apartheid Week” (IAW), has already exposed its anti-Semitic underbelly. This includes charges of Jewish financial manipulation doing the rounds and the envisaged protests being planned against Jewish-headed business establishments, as announced earlier this week by BDS. BDS stated it will be protesting outside businesses Investec and Discovery Health next Friday to “end their collaborations with Israel”.
There are many companies that do business with Israel, trade between South Africa and Israel is strong, with bilateral trade at more than R10.3 billion in 2014 (2013: R8.2 billion). However, only those known to be founded, owned or run by Jewish businessmen have been singled out. This explains why Woolworths, out of all other retailers, was the target of an aggressive two-year boycott campaign. Similar threats have been made against Dischem, Cape Union Mart and Capegate. This is consistent with BDS policy as expressed by its spokesperson, Muhammed Desai, on Channel Islam International (5/8/2015), when he singled out a number of Jewish businessmen as targets for a boycott and levelled various malicious smears against them and their businesses. BDS, he declared, was sending out a clear message that anyone who supported Israel would have to “face the consequences”.
Today, South Africa is confronted with critical challenges. Only by working together as a united nation can South Africans successfully overcome them. It is precisely at this time that BDS and its fellow travellers are once again importing a foreign conflict into the country and attempting to harness current high levels of frustration and anger to sow further conflict and division in order to promote their extremist Israel-hating agenda.
While it is the democratic right of the BDS, (and their affiliated organisations) to express their beliefs, past experience has shown that protests by the “Boycott Israel” lobby routinely involve preventing those who support Israel from doing so. This past weekend, the boycott lobby did all in their power (including attempting legal action) to prevent former Israeli president and PM Shimon Peres from speaking at an event in Sandton. In spite of this, Peres spoke to an enthralled audience.
The SA Jewish community, together with its many friends and supporters, will be hosting its own events in support of Israel, and SA Jewry, to counter anti-Israel hatred. We will not be intimidated and remain resolute in our commitment to finding a lasting and peaceful solution to the Middle East conflict. For the latter to happen, moderates in the region need to be empowered and supported, and to this end, the community has brought out as its guest for the week Professor Mohammed Dajani. Professor Dajani is the inaugural Weston Fellow at the Washington Institute. He is the founder of the Wasatia movement of moderate Islam and previously worked as a professor of political science at al Quds University. A peace activist, he believes that the solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict lies in both sides listening to and understanding one another’s aspirations, fears and historical narratives.
During IAW, where we can expect the usual lies, deception and hatred to be propagated, it is hoped that space will be given to these voices of moderation to be heard.