Representatives from the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions South Africa (BDS SA) have hailed the response of South Africans, to what is being described as the most successful Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW) to date. The 2015 campaign, which came to a conclusion on Sunday, was endorsed by more than 85 organizations. There were also over 200 recorded events in cities across the country, not including those carried out by locals in their own capacity.
IAW 2015 came to a conclusion on Sunday with a rally in Sandton, in protest of an Israeli expo held at the Sandton Convention Centre. Pro-Palestinian supporters were angered by the heavy police presence at the event, saying that SAPS resources would have been better channeled elsewhere and not to protect the Zionist regime.
BDS also faced enormous criticism by the local pro-Israeli lobby, who accused the group of being anti-Semitic. Whilst such resistance was again prevalent this year, BDS spokesperson, Kwara Kekana said such rhetoric could be nothing further from the truth.
“I think we must have it on record, BDS is opposed to all forms of racism including anti-Semitism, Islamophobia and so on, and I think our people know this well,” she said.
Whilst the campaign is a mainstay in more traditional spaces such as university campuses, IAW has begun to spread and branch out to some of South Africa’s more remote areas and communities.
“The absolute beauty is that this campaign went beyond these traditional spaces. You had a Palestine run as part of the closing events yesterday, in Orange Farm (Gauteng). You also had ‘flyering’ and community engagement in a small community just outside Pretoria, called Hammanskraal,” she explained.
Kekana had particular praise for the UCT Palestine Solidarity Forum (PSF), whose proactive campaign has yielded much praise. The organization held a rally on campus, calling on the university to terminate its contract with security company G4S, deemed actively complicit in the occupation of Palestinian territories.
“We saw it quite fit to see a campaign centered on G4S, a security company directly involved in the occupation. The UN Special Rapporteur on Palestinian Human Rights has isolated G4S as one of the multinational corporations directly benefiting from the occupation,” she noted.
Kekana said it was “high time” the BDS campaign be intensified in all its aspects, through more boycott and sanction campaigns. This included cultural, academic, and retail boycotts against any company with affiliations to the controversial state. VOC (Mubeen Banderker)