MEDIA STATEMENT: BDS SA Statement on Successful Protest at Israeli Trade Expo in Sandton

Monday, 9 March 2015

BDS South Africa would like to thank the hundreds of protestors and the many organizations of the #IsraeliApartheidWeek South Africa Team that came out onto the streets of Sandton on Sunday 8 March in protest against the Israeli Trade Expo that was taking place at the Sandton Convention Centre.

Sunday's IAW protest was a success where representatives from the ANC, the ANC Youth League, YCLSA, the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation, COSAS, WITS PSC and others were present and delivered powerful messages (click here). Deputy Minister and Head of ANC’s International Relations, Comrade Obed Bapela, also addressed the protest saying: “Nelson Mandela will be disappointed the day we forsake the Palestinians and we will never do that…".

Unfortunately the CSO Security organisation, which was founded by the South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD), was employed by conveners of the Israeli trade conference who intimidated and harassed protestors. This unlawful conduct transpired in full view of the Sandton police and the policeman who appeared to be in charge (click here), clearly declared that the SAPS are working "with them". This amounts to an absolute travesty of South Africa's sovereignty and a violation of South Africa's police force.

Nevertheless, the protest march was a success. The march was disciplined, despite attempts to provoke our activists and our message was clearly delivered. While we will take the necessary action to ensure that those individuals of the SAPS and/or JMPD who allowed the CSO to operate as crowd control will be held accountable, we would like to thank the rest of the SAPS and the JMPD leadership for eventually removing members of the CSO group that were there initially claiming to be police (click here for a video) and intimidating protestors The removal of the CSO Security was in itself a victory sending a clear message to the SA Jewish Board of Deputies that its CSO vigilante security arm will not be allowed to usurp our local authorities.

People from the protest were assaulted and detained by members of CSO which is unacceptable and unlawful. BDS South Africa thanks members of the public who have submitted photo and video footage which will all be submitted to the relevant authorities. The use of force against activists by the SAJBD's CSO Security at Israeli events has unfortunately become common place and it is evident that the CSO, supported by the SAJBD, views themselves as a paramilitary organization above the jurisdiction of South Africa's police force. We painfully recall the violent assault of pro-Palesitnian protestors by the CSO under the direction of the SAJBD at a previous event in 2013 (click here).

Finally we want to dispel mischievous mistruths by the SAJBD that ANC NEC member and chair of the ANC IR subcommittee Deputy Minister Obed Bapela said anything inappropriate or anti-semetic. Comrade Obed Bapela was clear and consistent in his message and he represented the strong views of the ANC - strong views against Israel by the ANC should not be confused by the SAJBD as anti-semitism. This attack on comrade Obed Bapela, the ANC and BDS South Africa is part of the ongoing attempts by the SAJBD to intimidate government officials and others. Previously the SAJBD have attacked and tried to isolate Minister Malusi Gigaba, Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, Deputy Minister Ebrahim Ebrhiam, DSG Jessie Duarte and several others, when they have spoken about the issue of Palestine.

The SAJBD is unfortunatly not representative of the diverse voices of the South African Jewish community and its persistent conflation of critique of Israel with anti-semitism is irresponsible, untrue and a misrepresentation of the pro-Palestinian movement.



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