City Parks block BDS event in heart of Joburg
Councillor Kruger refuses to take any credit for the change of City Parks’ policy, however, and insists that City Councillors are only the conduits through which residents and ratepayers speak to City structures. He had originally approached City Parks last week when he received ten letters of objection, says Kruger. He was only passing on the concerns of residents. He had since received more than 50 additional letters, he told Jewish Report.
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BDS-SA spokesman Kwara Kekana issued a statement this morning saying that the organisation “has just been informed by our comrades from the South African Jews for Palestine (SAJFP) that Johannesburg City Parks has withdrawn its permission to the SAJFP for a Palestine solidarity event tomorrow (Thursday 01 September).”
RIGHT: Popular Ward 72 Councillor Steven Kruger
Kekana referred to the actions of the Parks Department as a “withdrawal and u-turn … after complaints submitted by (Kruger)”. By Kruger’s account, this is stretching the truth somewhat as permission had only been granted “verbally and tentatively.”
The SAJFP had planned a symbolic pro-Palestinian tree-planting ceremony with visiting Palestinian dignitaries. Given that, it is not surprising that residents objected to the site of this being between Waverly Shul and Chabad House and no more than 500 metres from numerous other Jewish secular and religious facilities in Savoy Estate.
Objections were vigorous
The Savoy Waverley Residents Association were one of those who wrote and objected to City Parks, saying that they had heard that “a certain organisation is seeking City Council permission to plant six trees and erect a memorial in Weinberg Park in commemoration of the alleged illegal destruction of Palestinian homes by Israel during the 1948 War of Independence.”
The residents Associations pointed out that: “This grouping is closely associated with the radical anti-Israel BDS organisation.”
SA Jewish Report is withholding the names of objectors to ensure that they are not victimised.
Another strenuous objection related to: “this ploy on the part of those seeking to hijack public spaces for purposes of advancing their own ignoble agenda.”
Other objections raised by area residents included:
- “The proposed project would have the effect of imposing a highly contested and controversial interpretation of historical events in a public recreational space”;
- “Introducing a permanent source of division, resentment and controversy within the community”;
- “I wish to object to the proposed erection of a memorial in Weinberg Park by a private lobby organisation wishing to further its own private political agenda”;
- “There has been a complete lack of consultation either with the residents in the area or with its elected representative”; and
- That it could impact negotiations already underway concerning upgrades to Weinberg Park.
BDS unrelenting in skewed statement
Despite BDS-SA’s Kekane’s use of slanted terms such as “undermined by the DA” and City Parks’ “u-turn” and “withdrawing permission” – it appears on further investigation that this was stretching the truth.
It does, however, “make Johannesburg Jewry feel like they are being listened to” a Jewish communal leader told Jewish Report today referring to a public meeting that the Joburg Development Agency will be calling with Jewish residents who may have special needs relating to the Louis Botha Corridor.
LATEST: A Jewish Report source at the Metro, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed that a compromise was struck today. After further objections were raised in the City Council, the on-again-off-again event went ahead this morning – although on condition that no trees were to be planted or memorial erected.
Right: LATEST – Just in: This picture has just been submitted by a user in the area – the group, including Ronnie Kasrils, did in fact illegally plant or erect something but the Parks Board are likely going to remove it today, says Jewish Report’s source
ABOVE: The Weinberg Family Park – GOOGLE-EARTH