Today, across the country, South Africans stood up and spoke out against injustices carried out by the Jewish National Fund (JNF), an Israeli para-statal supported and funded by a local toy manufacturer, Reggies. Protests were held in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban outside several Reggies toy stores.
The South African chapter of the “StopTheJNF” campaign, the main organizer of today's protests, has on innumerable occasions made Reggies aware of the gross human rights violations being carried out by the JNF against the Palestinian people, however, Reggies has chosen to continue to unabashedly sponsor the JNF.
The StopTheJNF South Africa chapter was initiated by a group of concerned Jewish South Africans, representing a growing number of Jews who are increasingly opposed to Israel's discriminatory policies and the JNF’s complicity in the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians. Alan Horwitz, from the StopTheJNF group, said at the protest: “We feel it our moral duty as Jews, who have known anti-Semitism and oppression, to oppose the oppression of others.”
Today, in a powerful display of support, South Africans from various organizations including SASCO, YCL, Wits University Students Representative Council and BDS South Africa united across race and religion to join members of the StopTheJNF campaign to picket and march in shopping malls that house Reggies stores. Protesters chanted expressions of solidarity with the Palestinian people, wore t-shirts in support of the Palestinian cause and displayed banners that highlighted the racist nature of the JNF and Reggies’ complicity in supporting the JNF. Reggies was forced to close their doors at some malls, including the one at Cresta Shopping Centre in Johannesburg.

Horwitz, from the StopTheJNF campaign said after the protest: "We feel that there is something fundamentally abhorrent that a toy store, meant to be a joyous space for children, is complicit in ethnic cleansing.  For a brief moment, our protests showed  the children of Al-Arakib, a Palestinian Bedouin village which has been demolished forty times by the State of Israel with the JNF's support, that their plight has not been forgotten."

Despite the connection to the JNF that some of our fellow Jewish South Africans may hold, we hope that our words and actions will encourage them to critically confront the role the JNF is playing in Israel's ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians. The JNF’s planting of trees to conceal human rights violations must be exposed and condemned.

We hope that the Director of Reggies South Africa (who also owns the franchise rights for "Toys R Us" in South Africa), Mr Issy Zimmerman, will seriously reconsider the involvement of his company with the JNF.

What would South Africa’s children say if they knew that their toys are funding the demolition of Palestinian children’s homes?

Press statement issued by the StopTheJNF (South Africa) campaign. For comment contact:

ALAN HORWITZ, National spokesperson of StopTheJNF (South Africa):  082 512 8188
Dr Lubna Nadvi, Durban spokesperson: 083 786 4918
Martin Jansen, Cape Town spokesperson: 082 870 2025