BDS and ANC find solidarity in Israel bashing
The seminar, hosted by the ANC (Johannesburg region), BDS-SA, and the Palestinian embassy, was held at the headquarters of the Congress of South African Trade Unions in Braamfontein. Members of the Congress of South African Students were bussed in to fill seats, and sing apartheid freedom songs.
The organisations shared the platform in expressing condemnation for the State of Israel and solidarity with Palestinians. The speakers included two high ranking ANC officials, Andries Nel, the Deputy Minister of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs, and Parks Tau, an ANC Member of Parliament and the former mayor of Johannesburg. Jeff Nomkululekhu, ANC Chairperson Johannesburg Region, was also on the panel.
The BDS latched onto the presence of Spanish city councillor, Laura Pérez, of Barcelona, a known pro-Palestinian activist, who is in Johannesburg attending the 2018 Metropolis Annual Meeting.
Rowan Polovin, the Chairman of the South African Zionist Federation, Cape Council, said, “It is absolutely unacceptable and highly concerning that high-ranking government and ANC officials share a platform with an organisation such as BDS that calls for the destruction of the one and only Jewish State of Israel.
“It remains the South African government’s position to support a two-state solution in resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. These government officials who take a pro-BDS position do significant harm to the government’s stated position and credibility, and reduce the South African government’s ability to play a constructive leadership role in the resolution of the conflict.”
Wearing a shiny Palestine scarf, Parks Tau – who is also Chairperson of the South African Local Government Association in Gauteng, and the Deputy Chair of the UN Special Advisory on Safer Cities – opened his address with several “viva” chants including “viva Fatah!”, “viva the PLO!” which were echoed by students.
He spoke about his visit to Palestine when the City of Johannesburg erected a statute of Nelson Mandela in Ramallah in solidarity with the Palestinians. He compared the Palestinian and the apartheid struggle, and the importance of the involvement of the international community in these causes. He said it was important to celebrate the work being done by the Palestine Solidarity Alliance in creating consciousness about the Palestinian plight.
BDS-SA co-founder Muhammed Desai roused the students by telling them that “racism was prevalent in Israeli society”. He told them Israel was taking “our people” on these “free propaganda trips to Israel” in order to “recruit collaborators”. He claimed this week it “backfired” after a racial incident in which African students were kicked out of an Israeli town.
Pérez spoke at length about efforts being made throughout Spain to boycott the State of Israel and demonstrate solidarity with the Palestinians.
Wearing the traditional Palestinian keffiyeh (scarf) Deputy Minister Nel spoke at length about solidarity, saying it was powerfully symbolic that “here gathered in Johannesburg, activists united with comrades from Spain in solidarity with comrades from Palestine”.