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Cosatu warns SAJBD of boycott

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Trade federation Cosatu has issued an ultimatum to the South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) to stop all forms of “Zionist propaganda” before the 7th August, or face an intensive campaign against its member companies and other major funders, if they failed to comply. The campaign would include massive boycotts, as well as strikes from Cosatu members within those companies

Speaking to VOC’s Breakfast Beat, Cosatu provincial secretary Tony Ehrenreich expressed concern over statements made by SAJBD that suggested only a minority of South Africans were in support of the Palestinian cause. This was despite thousands taking to the streets over the past few weeks, in massive protests across the country.

Ehrenreich said that such statements were not only violating the value systems of the South African public, but were also acting in defence of the “Zionist agenda”, and the actions of the Israeli state against the people of Gaza.

“We cannot accept that because it goes against the value system of our country. We know SAJBD represent mainly conservative Jews, and a lot of funds from those conservative Jews go towards funding the Israeli army,” he alleged.

Ehrenreich said his organisation would not tolerate any group or individual who condoned the murder of innocent woman and children in the conflict hit Gaza Strip. There would be no place for SAJBD in South Africa, if they continued to fail to oppose the value systems of the country, he added.

“We are getting tired of the attitude of the SAJBD, who think they can act with impunity in our country by condoning these atrocities,” he said.

He vowed that if SAJBD failed to halt its spreading of Zionist propaganda, they would launch a massive campaign to ensure all the bodies finances were cut off. This included strikes and boycotts against SAJBD’s member companies and organisations.

Ehrenreich also rejected the notion that the campaign would be seen as a swipe against the Jewish population as a whole, insisting that there were many Jewish members of the South African community who were in support of justice for the Palestinians, and who had openly condemned Israel’s actions.

However, SAJBD associate director, David Saks, rejected Ehrenreich’s accusations, reiterating its stance that if Hamas had not provoked the war by firing missiles into Israeli territory, there would not have been a need for any offensive on Gaza. He also suggested that had Israel not gone to great lengths to minimise civilian casualties, the death toll would have been far greater.

“We believe that Hamas has embarked on an unwinnable war in military terms, in absolute knowledge that its own civilians will suffer. We also believe that there purpose is to stir up hatred against Israel,” he said.

He also accused Cosatu of taking a fascist approach towards SAJBD’s viewpoint on the conflict, saying that in a totalitarian society, anyone who deviated from the official position would be seen as disloyal to the country.

“To say that you are undermining the will of the people by coming out, allegedly against what the people as a majority believe, that is a totalitarian view and is threatening language as far as we are concerned,” he noted.

Latest reports put the current death toll from the nearly four week long conflict at 1,360 Palestinians, whilst on the Israeli side, 56 soldiers and 3 civilians have been killed. VOC (Mubeen Banderker)

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