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Anti-Israel protesters want Zionists kicked out of SA

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Zionists must be kicked out of Johannesburg and South Africa like the Nazis were defeated, a speaker at a pro-Palestinian protest outside the offices of the South African Zionist Federation (SAZF) declared on Sunday.

“We are saying Zionists and the [SA] Zionist Federation, there is no space for you here in Johannesburg. You must get out. There is no space for you in South Africa. Like the Nazis were kicked out, the Zionists must be kicked out.”

So said Johannesburg-based attorney Ziyaad Ebrahim Patel, speaking at the protest organised by Voice for Justice and the Palestine Solidarity Alliance.

SAZF National Chairperson Rowan Polovin said this call was the latest “in a long line of provocation”. It “wasn’t surprising” that “BDS [Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions] leaders antisemitically call for a South African Jewish body to be ‘shut down’ alongside their calls for shutting down the Jewish state,” Polovin said.

Patel’s call, filled with hatred on the other side of a wall from a gathering of Jewish people holding a pro-Israel peace rally, was greeted with repeated chants of “Zionism is racism” by the crowd of hundreds of anti-Israel supporters.

The rally in support of Israel organised by the SAZF was held behind the walls of the Beyachad grounds while the protesters stood outside. When the tops of Israeli flags being held by supporters on the one side were seen by the pro-Palestinian camp, it made them angry. “Don’t hide! Come out!” cried supporters, with a voice adding repeatedly, “Jou ma se poes!”

Inside the Beyachad premises, the Israel rally, attended by almost 200 supporters, at times drowned out the speakers on the Palestinian side while playing Israeli and South African music.

However, Patel went on to insist that the protesters supported Hamas and wanted more attacks on Israel. “We will send those rockets to Ashkelon,” he urged to huge cheers from the crowd. “We will not be apologetic for each and every rocket of resistance that goes to Ashkelon and Tel Aviv because you are murdering our children in Gaza. We see our children being taken out of the rubble and we see entire families being desecrated and destroyed. Our holy mosques are disintegrated. You come with your arrogance in Al-Aqsa [mosque] with your boots of oppression.”

He said Hamas represented the “resistance of Palestine” before leading chants of “Viva Hamas, viva the resistance!” Earlier the crowd also repeatedly chanted, “Shut it down, shut it down!” in reference to the Israeli embassy in South Africa. Banners held included those declaring “Ctrl Alt Delete Israel”, “Israehell”, and “one Holocaust does not justify another”.

Patel also called for any South Africans serving in the Israel Defense Forces to be tried as war criminals. “We want all of those dockets sitting at the National Prosecuting Authority to be investigated, and for war criminals to be prosecuted in South Africa and in the International Criminal Court.”

In terms of the hoped outcome for the region, Patel declared, “We talk about solutions – there is only one solution in Palestine: a one-state solution.”

Amera Valiallah, an organiser for Voice for Justice, spoke to the SA Jewish Report affirming Patel’s call for the SAZF to be shut down. “We are calling for the closing of the [SA] Zionist Federation – an organisation like this that supports supremacy, that is so blatantly in support of an ethnic cleansing state, doesn’t have a place in our constitutional democracy,” she said.

She said her organisation defined Zionism “as elitism: it’s the same thing that Hitler was trying to do with the Aryan race: we see over and over again. It’s white supremacy, it’s any sort of supremacy”.

Valiallah declared that the demonstration was about human rights, saying, “It’s not a Muslim versus Jewish protest.”

At the rally, cries of “Allahu Akbar!” (G-d is great) were chanted consistently.

Valiallah said as a new organisation and one founded by the youth, Voice for Justice couldn’t offer a “concrete solution” to conflict in the region, but what it wanted was peace.

The pro-Israel peace rally was organised after the pro-Palestinian one was declared. Valiallah said the discontent raised by the decision to demonstrate outside the SAZF office showed that it was “effective”. She said while supporters had made a plan to work around the other demonstration, “we honestly wish they didn’t pull this move because we are here to execute and exercise our Section 17 rights, and this is honestly disrespectful because they are trying to meet us with violence”.

Asked if they had experienced any violence from the Israeli side, she said, “not at this moment because we had to re-root our protest and re-plan what our action was going to be”.

Another organiser of the pro-Palestinian march, who asked to be identified only by his first name, Zaid, said that as a Palestinian himself, he knew the situation on the ground. Hamas was resistance and “resistance isn’t terrorism. Terrorism is when you bring terror into hearts, and that’s what Israel is doing.

“Hamas isn’t using human shields. It has nowhere to go. There is a wall around it. Everything is operating underground.”

Zaid said, “We don’t have a problem with Judaism. I have a lot of Jewish friends.” However, Palestinians need to have political power. “You can’t have two governments and one state; it doesn’t work. We can live with Jews, but we can’t live with the government of Zionism.”

Although the organisers originally arrived early to talk to the Johannesburg metro police department, and negotiated to have 200 demonstrators in Elray Road, more than double that number were allowed, including children and babies in prams.

Lior Keinan, Israel Ambassador to South Africa, said that the facts of the conflict had been obfuscated in the way the world was reporting on the matter. “People tried to create an alternative reality that Israel wasn’t protecting itself – that suddenly one day, Israel woke up in the morning and started to kill people. There is a reason why in court you have to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.”

Bafana Modise, a representative for South African Friends of Israel, said it offered its support as Christians to have “one voice against the hatred in the world and also to reclaim our apartheid narrative which was sold in Durban [at the 2001 World Conference Against Racism].

“Peace won’t happen if we continue to demonise Israel,” he said. “Hamas isn’t the way. Palestinians shouldn’t be used as war proxies; they deserve better.”

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1 Comment

  1. Robert Mancusso

    May 27, 2021 at 5:17 pm

    Zaid said, “We can live with Jews, but we can’t live with the government of Zionism.”

    Being anti-Zionist is being anti-semitic! Why? Zionism is the recognition and support of the Jewish homeland of Israel which is synonymous with the Jewish people and the religion of Judaism. Most Jewish people support Israel as the Jewish homeland, so if you are against Zionism, then you are against the majority of Jewish people and you don’t support the Jewish people’s right to live in their historical, biblical homeland.
    You can criticise policies of the Israeli government and that is perfectly acceptable, however, refusing to recognise Israel as the legitimate state of the Jewish people, is most definitely anti-semitic!

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