PRESS STATEMENT: #PharrellProtest a success
22 September 2015

Yesterday’s #PharrellProtest was a success! Despite attempts to brand #PharrellProtest activists as violent and uncontrollable, we believe that yesterday's protest was an exemplary gathering which represented South Africa well.
Yesterday’s gathering saw a broad spectrum of various political parties, trade unions, civil society organizations, and members of the Christian, Muslim, Jewish community amongst others. We were indeed on the international solidarity picket lines united in our South African diversity.

We thank each and every participant (as well as the many media personnel, police and traffic officials) who joined the protest yesterday. In particular we appreciate the involvement of the various teachers, principals, schools and school children who chose to be part of the #PharrellProtest.

In addition to being a protest against Pharrell Williams and his cover up for Woolworth’s unjustifiable trade with Israel, the protest was also a celebration of the collective efforts and successes of the Palestine solidarity and BDS boycott of Israel movement in South Africa. An upbeat, festive and energetic mood undoubtedly characterised yesterday's #PharrellProtest.

Late last year #BoycottWoolworths activists explained to the company that by not replacing its Israeli relations it ran the risk of becoming what Shell was in the Netherlands, Barclays Bank was in the UK or Polaroid was in the USA - the main public targets of the international anti-apartheid boycott. Indeed, Woolworths has achieved this status now in South Africa when it comes to the boycott of Israel.

Judging by the prime time TV coverage, the numerous front page stories and international media attention ( RT, New York Times, New Yorker etc.) both Woolworths and Pharrell Williams brands have taken a beating. However, the protests don’t tarnish the image of the company, it’s the Israeli trade and relations that is tarnishing the image of Woolworths and brining all the bad publicity. The protests are in response to a decision by Woolworths to trade with Israel.

The BDS movement will continue to lobby for government sanctions, military embargoes and state-level boycotts and at a consumer level in South Africa, the #BoycottWoolworths campaign is the main campaign successfully galvanising public support and community participation in the BDS movement.

A multi-pronged isolation of Israel on a global level because of its Apartheid policies is an urgent necessity, and requires a global citizen's response. Companies must form part of that citizenry that advocates human rights. The anti-apartheid movement to date is one of the largest human rights campaigns of all time, it was an ordinary people's led and people's centered campaign demanding of their governments, corporations and companies to do extraordinary things.
The global political landscape has changed since then, human rights are the order of the day today, Woolworths as a retailer sadly does not seem to align itself with these values despite what it tries to sell to the public through its marketing. Woolworths, do the right thing, ends your trade with Israel and let us celebrate your company with the growing lists of retailers, banks, companies, universities, artists and others that are heeding the call for a boycott of Israel as a non-violent method to bring peace and justice to Palestine-Israel.
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