PRESS RELEASE: Jewish Anti-apartheid Activist & Rivonia Trialist Denis Goldberg Endorses #BoycottWoolworths Campaign

3 October 2014

Jewish anti-apartheid struggle stalwart and Rivonia Trailist Denis Goldberg has lent his endorsement to the #BoycottWoolworths campaign. BDS South Africa, the National Coalition 4 Palestine, COSATU, SACP, YCL, ANC Youth League and various other organizations have called for a boycott of Woolworths until it ends its R12 million trade relations with Israel. The termination of relations with Israel is called for as part of the international boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel campaign which seeks to isolate Israel until Israel respects international law and Palestinian human rights. The BDS campaign is inspired by the successful isolation of Apartheid South Africa.

Denis Goldberg fought alongside key figures such as Nelson Mandela, Ahmed Kathrada, Govan Mbeki and others in the struggle against the South African apartheid regime. Goldberg was sentenced to life imprisonment in the Rivonia Trial alongside other struggle heroes such as Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu, Ahmed Kathrada and others in 1964. He served 22 years in prison before being released in 1985.

Denis Goldberg joins other well-known figures in the country who have publicly backed the growing #BoycottWoolworths campaign, including actor Thato Molamu who plays Nicholas Nomvete of the popular soap opera “Generations”, musician Simphiwe Dana, Blade Nzimande the Minister of Higher Education, Buti Manamela the Deputy Minister in the South African Presidency, Enver Surty the Deputy Minister of Department of Basic Education and Ronnie Kasrils former Minister of Intelligence and anti-apartheid activist.

When endorsing the #BoycottWoolworths campaign, Denis Goldberg remarked: “I want to see justice for the Palestinians and if that means boycott against Woolworths then good. I would like Woolworths to say to the Israeli government that you are making it difficult for us to do business with you, so you better clean up your act. That is the point of such a campaign, to increase the isolation and the pressure on [Israel]”.

Goldberg justified the targeting of Woolworths saying: "It should be easy for Woolworths to respond in a humane way…will the boycott of Woolworths help? [Israeli trade] is a small part of their trade therefore one can argue it's easy for them to stop because the amount of profit is negligible. Yes maybe there is a part of their customer base who would be disappointed and will go elsewhere, but one needs some kind of ethics in our society. One has to take responsibility for human beings and let me say, out of that generation of the Rivonia Trial, we were prepared to give up quite a lot, for the sake of freedom, to be part of what was right and not convenient”

Denis Goldberg is one of a growing number of Jews in South Africa and abroad who are opposed to Israel’s occupation and war crimes. Dennis Goldberg commented: "As a white South African I had to take a position to oppose Apartheid, being Jewish it is important that I show my opposition to the Israeli policies...In the state of Israel the laws make it clear that people are treated differently based on race and religion. It is clear that Israel is an Apartheid state...the idea of a boycott campaign against the state of Israel for its policies against the Palestinian people is very important".

Other relevant views Denis Goldberg expressed included his view on the SA Jewish board of Deputies:

"Amongst white South Africans who opposed Apartheid there was a disproportionate number of Jews involved...I found it disturbing, after the end of Apartheid, for the Jewish establishment, the SA Jewish Board of Deputies, to suddenly claim us [Jewish anti-apartheid activists] as heroes of the struggle and equally during the struggle we would be attacked because Nelson Mandela embraced Yasser Arafat"  

"So if the SA Jewish Board of Deputies today claims that as the SA Jewish Board of Deputies they took a stand against Apartheid, this is untrue. There were Rabbis for example, and there were one or two, who would take a stand against Apartheid they would be isolated and condemned and driven out of their communities and congregations. Just recently I took part in a discussion at Lilliesleaf Farm, where we were arrested, the Rivonia Farm, and the current president of the SA Jewish Board of Deputies made an apology, publicly, for the lack of support for the [Jewish anti-apartheid] freedom fighters. I was there, Albie Sacks, Ann Marie Wolpe was there. And I said it's nice of you to make the apology, but I don't need an apology.  I did what I did, not because I am a Jew, but because I believe in justice and equality and rights of people. If you want to make an apology, make an apology to the majority of our people who were oppressed, because you didn't do enough. So their claim to have been officially supporters of the struggle against Apartheid is a load of codswallop."

- Click here or see attached for a photo of Denis Goldberg holding a #BoycottWoolworths placard
- Click here for audio file of Denis Goldberg on #BoycottWoolworths campaign
- Click here for audio file of Denis Goldberg on SA Jewish Board of Deputies support of Apartheid

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