All this for figs, pretzels & a few pomegranates
Ahead of Woolworths’ AGM on Wednesday this week, and the planned protests in 40 of their stores on Saturday, a flurry of activity has been taking place from three sides: Woolworths, the BDS-led protesters and an angry element among SA Jewry.
Highlights of the activity this week include some textbook stuff from Woolworths:
- Antagonistic Woolworths shareholders, including StopTheJNF’s Allan Horwitz, BDS’ Muhammed Desai, Nadia Hassan and Marthie Momberg said they would “take the campaign against the retailer’s sales of Israeli products” into the company’s annual general meeting;
- Woolworths’ urgent interdict to prohibit in-store demonstrations was granted. “We trust that BDS will respect the decision of the court”, said Paula Disberry, group director: retail operations on Tuesday;
- Africa for Israel (In Support of Woolworths’) petition passed the target 5 800 signature mark on Monday and the organisers “believe that 7 000 is within our reach”, they said; and
- BDS-SA claimed that the South Gauteng High Court had on Tuesday “provided a court order that Woolworths and BDS South Africa ‘shall meet face to face on or before the 10th of December 2014 in an attempt to settle the entire matter’. In good faith BDS South Africa has undertaken to tone down on certain in-store protest actions”.
Desai, of the US-based NGO Boycott, Divest and Sanctions (BDS) South Africa, admitted to the Sunday Times that he had only recently acquired Woolworths shares. “We will put https://www.sajr.co.za/images/default-source/default-album/woolies—dont.jpg” class=”sfImageWrapper”>Or, if you simply want to sign and scram – CLICK HERE. It is literally an e-mail address and it’s done. There’s no excuse not to. Their target is 7 000.
Right now (Tuesday 6pm) it stands at 6 214 and, they say, they “believe that 7 000 is within our reach”.
Both Jewish and anti-Israeli activists have been rushing to buy Woolworths shares so they can attend the AGM.
BDS say they have also obtained a few proxies from shareholders sympathetic to their cause. “We will be in attendance too to put across our position and would like to encourage and shareholders to do the same,” said BDS yesterday.
Allan Horwitz (of Cape Town, not Johannesburg) who founded the BDS-affiliated StopTheJNF, considers himself a Jewish human-rights activist who represents a handful of Jewish Woolworths shareholders. He said BDS supported the campaign because of human-rights violations as recognised by the UN. The campaign was about Israel denying Palestinians political rights, he said..
“The support by the Jewish investors will lend credibility to the fact that the campaign is not anti-Semitic. We have been receiving threatening calls about us supporting the destruction of Israel. All sorts of insulting names such as self-hating Jews and Nazis have been hurled at us,” said Horwitz.
Last week BDS organised a meeting of the media and Woolworth shareholders who supported them. Only three shareholders and a handful of reporters turned up.
Asked by the Sunday Times to verify the three shareholders who had come forward to support the campaign, Disberry said: “It appears from media reports that the meeting was held by the BDS and their affiliates, including a few Woolworths shareholders… We listen to the views of all stakeholders and action what we can.
“We do not exclude any shareholders from attending our AGM,” she said.
Follow SAJR Online for this continuing story. SAPAC Chairman David Hersch and his camera will be there and we hope to have pictures posted from the demonstration in time for both the newspaper and the website.
*Legalese for an outright lie!