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Locals protest UK govt ban on BDS

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A handful of people stood at the entrance to the Company Gardens, Cape Town on Friday to picket against the United Kingdom’s government’s plan to ban city councils, public bodies and some student unions from boycotting “unethical” businesses, including those operating in illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank.

According to UK newspaper, The Independent, all publicly funded institutions will be barred from boycotting goods or services by companies complicit in weapons trade, tobacco products or Jewish-only settlements in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem.As a result of the proposed plans, the Palestinian Solidarity Committee (PSC) in Cape Town called on civil society to stand with them in Cape Town today to raise awareness on this issue. However, the picket was not well supported.

As a result of the proposed plans, the Palestinian Solidarity Committee (PSC) in Cape Town called on civil society to stand with them in Cape Town today to raise awareness on this issue. However, the picket was not well supported.

“We expected many more (people at the protest), but unfortunately that is the reality of the solidarity movement in South Africa, when the bombs are raining down on Gaza then our people come out in their thousands, but we need more than that we need consistent hard work towards liberating our Palestinian brothers and sisters,” said organiser Martin Jansen.

One woman at the picket, who is from the Jewish community and asked not to be named, said that she had lost family in the Holocaust and she believes that what is happening now in Palestine is genocide.

“The Jews said never again and as far as I’m concerned, never again for any person in the world and genocide is being perpetrated in Palestine by Zionist national politics and the Zionist Jews do not represent me as a secular and religious Jewish woman.”

In a statement sent to Al Jazeera, a spokesperson for UK Prime Minister David Cameron’s office said that boycotts “undermine good community relations, poisoning and polarising debate, weakening integration and fuelling anti-Semitism”.

Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) activist Bram Hanekom said that they will stand bravely in their solidarity with the Palestinian people.

“BDS is no single individual or organisation BDS is a campaign of which all solidarity organisations, regardless of whatever differences they might be have thrown their weight behind,” says Hanekom.

“Particular strategies and tactics of the BDS organisation are often scrutinized as civil society will often do, but when it comes to the campaigns of BDS the Zionists are claiming false victories and thinking that we don’t have solidarity behind the isolation of Israel and the BDS campaign,” Hanekom went further.

In recent years the BDS campaigns in Europe in particular have claimed victories in having companies divest from Israel. Thus, the legislation, if passed, will definitely alter the change that BDS is able to create.

VOC [Umarah Hartley]

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