Sandton in Johannesburg was brought to a standstill as more than 7000 protesters gathered outside the Israeli embassy’s trade office on Friday. The vocal crowd called for Israeli Ambassador Arthur Lenk to be expelled and sent home to Israel.
The protest comes in the wake of Israel’s brutal assault on the Gaza Strip, which has killed more than 265 civilians. Many protesters were carrying huge Palestinian flags and banners, as they walked through the busy business hub, CII journalist Azhar Vadi told VOC News that the atmosphere was electric.
“This is a humanitarian issue and the entire South Africa is moving behind it. The main objective is to see the Israeli ambassador kicked out of SA,” Vadi explained.
At the protest action, a number of civil societies attended in support of Palestine. Vadi said the members of the South African Communist Party and the Minister of Public Works, Thulas Nxesi and the South African National Zakah Fund (Sanzaf) in Johannesburg all came out with placards and banners, calling for the liberation of Palestine.
The Palestine Solidarity Alliance’s (PSA) Mohammed Hassan said the protest was supported by a range of activists from anti-apartheid stalwart, Ahmed Kathrada to Jewish activists such as Alan Horwitz from Stop the Jewish National Fund.
“It’s been a great success. The Zionist project has been exposed with the amount of support today. We need to continue this fight until Palestine is liberated,” he said.
Hassan said no Israeli officials were present to receive the memorandum; however this did not curb the enthusiasm in the crowd.
The protest action marked International Mandela Day and called on South Africans to use 67minutes to stand in solidarity with Palestine. BDS SA spokesperson, Muhammed Desai said Sandton was filled with the support of thousands as they demonstrated against Israel’s aggression in Palestine.
Desai explained that one of the most important ways one can contribute to the plight of the Palestinian people is through Boycott, Sanctions and Divestments. This, Desai explained, is an active way in which consumers can ensure they do their part, even from the other side of the world, to put pressure on the oppressors in this war.
“BDS is a strategic campaign. We encourage the community to consider these three main targets- Soda Stream, which is an Israeli product. Secondly, Group 4 Security (G4S); this is a security company which is complicit in the torture and imprisonment of Palestinian political prisoners.
“Approach your local butchery, bakery and shopping outlet, engage with them about how G4S is complicit in Israel and how they should change their company and communicate to BDS SA when they change their companies security and we can list them with the growing number of business that are dropping G4S. Third target is fresh produce coming in from Israel, which is being sold in Woolworths and other outlets. Engage with shop owners to remove these products from their shelves by means of letters, petitions, protest and create awareness within the store,” Desai explained.
“BDS is not just about staying away from Israeli products but it is about taking a stand and making it difficult for stores stocking Israeli products.”
Desai further encouraged individuals to get into groups with their friends and take to social media and through the confidence they have in their group. People can make a lot of changes within their circle of friends and actively change the perceptions and actions of those around them. VOC (Ra’eesah Isaacs)