PRESS STATEMENT: #Africa4Palestine slams “anti-semitism” slander by Jewish Board

10 June 2021

The South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) has issued a baseless attack on our Director Muhammed Desai and our organisation, claiming that our Director and ourselves are stoking anti-Semitism.

The SAJBD, in a statement issued last night, claims that: “calls for boycotts of Jewish businesses have again reared their ugly and antisemitic head.  Muhammed Desai, the Director of Africa4Palestine has praised and congratulated 300 South African owned hardware stores for severing ties with Jewish businesses”

This is a complete and deliberate misrepresentation by the SAJBD.

Desai, as Director of #Africa4Palestine, did indeed write a letter to South African owned hardware stores who have have boycotted pro-Israeli suppliers. However, the letter was not regarding “Jewish businesses” as the SAJBD falsely claim. The letter Desai wrote congratulating about 300 South African owned hardware stores was intended to acknowledge and celebrate another real boycott of Israel victory and to welcome the ethical potions taken by these hardware stores. The letter by Desai clearly reads:

“It has come to our attention that over the last month, a group of about 300 South African owned hardware stores, have united and many of them have cancelled contracts with SA based suppliers and companies that have relations with or who have shown support for Israel. It is our understanding that SA suppliers, with ties to Israel, have lost over 30 million rands a month worth of contracts. That totals to over 300 million rands a year – 24 million dollars

Palestinian solidarity is a moral issue and indeed a business issue. Your efforts have served as another great blow to those who believe they can support the Israeli regime on one hand and take money and profits from the principled and moral South African people

You are using your financial muscle in sending a clear message to Israel and their supporters that it is not business as usual anymore.

Find the full letter by Desai to the Hardware stores at this LINK.

It is clear upon reading the letter that Desai wrote to the 300 hardware stores, that he nor we attacked, targeted or even mentioned Jewish businesses. The SAJBD is clearly misrepresenting and being utterly dishonest.

To conflate the boycott of Israeli-linked and Israeli-supporting companies with a boycott of Jews is false and untrue. In fact, it is an under-handed attempt by the SAJBD to use their usual accusation of “anti-Semitism” to deflect attention from Israel’s genocidal policies and to try and intimidate the public into being less vocal on the issue of Palestine. In the past, the SAJBD tried to censor politicians, government officials and members of the media by falsely accusing them of anti-semitism when they criticised Israel. The SAJBD failed then and will fail now when they mis-use this accusation against these hardware store owners and others.

#Africa4Palestine reiterates that we welcome South Africans shunning, boycotting and ending relations with suppliers and companies that are trading with, have links to or are supportive of Israel. To boycott Israel should not be falsely construed by the Israel lobby, supporters of Israeli Apartheid as anti-semitism. In the 1980s peace-loving peoples of the world boycotted Apartheid South Africa not because they hated white people but because of the similarly oppressive and racist policies of the Apartheid South African regime,(which was an erstwhile close friend and ally of the SAJBD). Similarly, South Africans and others across the globe, are today boycotting Israel not out of any anti-Jewish sentiments but because of Israel’s cruel oppression of the Palestinian people, racist policies, violations of international law and its wanton murder of civilians, in particular women and children. Last month in 11 days Israel killed 230 Palestinians including 65 children and 3 pregnant women.

This is not a religious issue and the despicable attempt by the SAJBD to make it one, is a contemptible and dangerous attempt to divide South Africans along religious or sectarian lines. If the Israeli lobby says that it is anti-Semitic for President Cyril Ramaphosa or Archbishop Desmond Tutu or the people of South Africa to criticise the government of Israel then the SAJBD are doing a disservice to the real victims of anti-Semitism. Racism and anti-semitism are two sides of the same coin, they are the offsprings of racial and ethnic bigotry. If the SAJBD is genuinely concerned about anti-semitism, as they claim to be, it follows logically that they should end their support for Israeli Apartheid and the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians. On our part, we will continue to exercise our  right and live up to our moral obligation to criticise a morally corrupt racist system of government that has entrenched a brutal military occupation to maintain a system that is predicated on the racial and ethnic supremacy of one people over another.

We want to again congratulate, thank and express our unapologetic support to the ethical South African hardware store owners for their bold and important decision to choose human rights in their business decisions, by boycotting suppliers who actively support Apartheid Israel. The malicious and distorted response by the pro-Apartheid lobby shows us that the effect in South Africa of boycotts against Israel is truly being felt.

ISSUED BY TISETSO MAGAMA ON BEHALF OF AFRICA 4 PALESTINE

For comment:

Executive Director, Muhammed Desai: +27 (0) 84 211 9988
Spokesperson, Tisetso Magama: +27 (0) 61 414 6348

AFRICA 4 PALESTINE (FORMERLY BDS SOUTH AFRICA)
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Africa4Palestine is a registered Non-Profit Company. Registration Number: 2020/549404/08
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