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SA Organisations

Israel, world Jewry turn up heat on BDS

  • Swartz - Ben1
Muhammed Desai tells SAJR Online that the mere fact that opposing BDS has become the main dominating campaign both in Israel & among SA organisational Jewry shows that BDS is moving from being an irritation to a serious problem and a threat to Israel in its current form. SAZF national chairman, Ben Swartz, says however that BDS-SA’s attempt to create a parallel between the struggle for freedom in SA and the situation in the ME “has backfired as it has been seen as an insult by all South Africans who suffered and lived under the Apartheid regime”.
by ANT KATZ | Jun 10, 2015

Writing in the UK Guardian last week, Peter Beaumont noted how Israel and world Jewry were turning “up the heat” on the US-based NGO anti-Israel activist group - labelling “Boycott, Divesment and Sanctions (Israel)” (BDS) as “anti-Semitic” and as a “first-rate strategic threat” to Israel and world Jewry.

The Guardian’s article was prompted by a vote last week by the British National Union of Students to formally ally itself with the aims of BDS. This, in turn, inspired Israeli MPs to hold a special session in the Knesset to discuss the issue. It also resulted in casino tycoon Sheldon Adelson  convening a conference in Las Vegas last weekend.

The initial  nonviolent grassroots movement, founded by journalist Ali Abunimah and activist Omar Barghouti, is modelled on the anti-apartheid campaigns and calls for an end to Israel’s occupation of Palestine, equality for Palestinian citizens of Israel, and for a resolution for the Palestinian refugees of 1948.

“Critics of the BDS describe the call for the refugees’ right to return and the opposition of some leaders of the movement to a two-state solution,” wrote Beaumont, “which they have described as a mistake, as evidence that BDS is anti-Semitic.”

SA Zionist Federation pitches in

In an interview with Jewish Report this week, newly-elected SA Zionist Federation national chairman, Ben Swartz, said that the damage that BDS-SA, the local arm of the organisation, could do in this country - and internationally - was underestimated by Israel and world Jewry.

Swartz - Ben1Luckily for Israel and the Jewish world, however, what BDS-SA’s activities have done “has shown the world that the organisation has a fundamentally anti-Semitic narrative.”


RIGHT: SAZF national chairman Ben Swartz

From day one BDS-SA has always acted as an anti-Semitic organisation. Even Jews who had readily agreed with the BDS-SA stance in the beginning, says Ben, such as members of the political far-left or anti-Zionist Jews, have come to see the fact that BDS-SA’s agenda is not political but anti-Semitic.

Today, however, even those among SA Jewry who were previously sympathetic to BDS have changed their stance. Ben points to a BDS demonstration at Wits last year where they chanted “Shoot the Jew” and the more recent claims by Wits’ SRC president’s “I Love Hitler” statements.  The latter resulted in the previously strong Jewish supporter of BDS, Professor Steven Friedman, to post on his Facebook page: “If I had lived in Hitler's Germany, I would have been sent to a death camp simply because I am Jewish.”

Internationally, people have “totally underestimated the importance of BDS in South Africa,” says Swartz, because SA is at the “coalface for the worldwide movement,says Fed chairman, Swartz. “SA is ground-zero in the fight to delegitimise Israel; it is being modelled here… it is critical to their ability to (falsely) create the Israel-Apartheid analogy, among many other narratives, aimed at delegitimising Israel’s right to exist.”

The problem is that the efforts of BDS-SA have proven to be a complete miscalculation. They have been largely unsuccessful among the general population of SA, says Swartz, “and therefore they can only go for people who they perceive to be supportive of Israel.”

BDS-SA’s head, Muhammed Desai, disputes this. He told SAJR Online today that the mere fact that opposing BDS has become the main dominating campaign both in Israel and among SA organisational Jewry shows that BDS is moving from being an irritation to a serious problem and a threat to Israel in its current form.

However, says Swartz, BDS-SA’s attempt to create a parallel between the struggle for freedom in SA and the situation in the Middle East “has backfired as it has been seen as an insult by all South Africans who suffered and lived under the Apartheid regime,” he says.

BDS support waning, says Swartz

While always a danger, says Swartz, BDS-SA has seen its support reduced and the ties between Israel and SA are growing stronger.

He says that BDS-SA shows its anti-Semitism by only attacking Jewish-owned businesses, for example, where non-Jewish businesses in the same sector may do far more trade with Israel. He quotes the example of BDS-SA’s anti-Woolworths campaign (the company has a Jewish chairman) while much larger retailers, he suggests, import manyfold more goods from Israel.

Other examples he puts forward are: Reggies, Dis-Chem, and German Jewish pianist Yossi Reshef, whose concert at the Wits Great Hall was cut short by BDS protests.. “The only common denominator here is that BDS is attacking Jews,” says Swartz, “it is anti-Semitism, not politics.”

Desai, however, insists that BDS-SA is against any form of racism, including anti-Semitism. “There is no space for any racism in our movement,” he says, and if it appears it is dealt with immediately. He says BDS-SA encourages SA Jewry to bring any act they consider to be anti-Semitic or racist to the attention of BDS-SA as well as to the relevant authorities.

2 Comments

  1. 2 nat cheiman 10 Jun
    Shoot the Jew. You Jews don't belong here. We will teach you kikes a lesson.
    These utterances are anti semitic.
    Desai at this stage, may well be connected to radical islam and if not, he behaves as if he is. Why did he not condemn Dumbo Dlaminis "I love Hitler"statement?
    Answer; Because Desai agrees with Dumbo's sentiments.
    How would Desai and muslims react to a boycott of their businesses because of turmoil in France (Hebdo saga), or Syria or Libya slaughtering innocent Christians?
    Desai says there is no space for racism in BDS.
    He lies through his teeth.
    The reality is that moderate muslims, Christians , hindus , agnostics and jews are sick and tired of BDS  and their bullsxxt and dictatorial attitude of what and where people should buy.
    In America, BDS is on the backfoot because of the unconstitutionality of its ideology.
    Desai will soon be unemployed.
  2. 1 abu mamzer 11 Jun
    Desai said that he meant that "Shoot the Jew" should be taken metaphorically.Did he mean that we should all line up for a "photo shoot"??
    Let's not forget the nexus between muslim anti-Semitism and the BDS agit prop.
    AntiZionism is anti Semitism.
    The MRN and their have been taking too much Shtum Pills,and avoid comment on their jihadi bretheren in the Middle BEast.

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