Shoks Mnisi Mzolo – Cii News | 02 Muharram 1435/27 October 2014
Dozens of activists calling for boycott against Woolworths, for stocking Israeli goods from Israel, were arrested over the weekend for staging what has been described as effective protests at the retailer’s Gauteng and Western Cape branches. The arrested protesters (including children), under the banner of the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS), were subsequently released – four hours later – without charges nor explanation by police officials. BDS lawyers are pursuing the matter.
BDS is part of the global movement opposed to the Zionist and apartheid project that has, for decades, subjugated Palestinians due to their Semitic ethnicity. Umpteen resolutions, by the United Nations, haven’t stopped the carnage, racism and protracted genocide faced by the people of Palestine. It is from this angle that BDS and anti-apartheid activists urge the isolation of Tel Aviv’s brutal regime that slain more than 2,000 ethnic Palestinians (including 500 children) in just weeks in 2014. That said, it is notable that the UN had proclaimed 2014 year the year of solidarity with the subjugated Palestinians. Not much has changed since 1977 when the world body inaugurated the day of solidarity.
Asked why the BDS was targeting Woolworths in the first place, the movement’s Kwara Kekana told Cii listeners that the company sources products from Israel, an apartheid state. Woolworths’ actions, she added, contravened the call – issued by indigenous Palestinians in 2005 – for Consumer Boycott Disinvestment and Sanctions.
That this call was made a decade ago and millions of Palestinians have since then been displaced (due to incessant violence and house demolitions), exiled, traumatised and, even worse, slaughtered by Israel suggest that Tel Aviv’s “collective punishment” continues unabated. This brand of Nazism, known as Zionism, pretends to be a religious project when it is a racist scheme to expel the people of Palestine from their ancestral lands. This scheme dates back to the 1800s. Pro-justice lobbyists are increasingly agitating for a new game plan to defeat Nazism in Benjamin Netanyahu’s Israel. BDS feels that its campaign to force Woolworths to stop sourcing from Israel is gaining traction.
“There’s growing support for this particular campaign. And, like I said, it’s a people-led campaign. That is why we are able to have over 40 actions happening all over the country. These are not actions coordinated by the BDS in the main (but) these are people in particular communities taking up the campaign themselves and owning (it),” Kekana told Sabahul Khair. “There’s a growing and swelling support for this particular campaign.”
Regarding the arrests of 60 anti-Israeli apartheid protesters at Woolworths’ Killarney and Sea Point branches, Kekana said this yet-to-be explained action by law enforcers spoilt an otherwise brilliant boycott that brought the affected stores to a standstill for 30 minutes. While noting heavy police presence outside Woolworths branches, the BDS activist lauded Lenasia residents for their continued campaign to jam tills at Woolworths for trading with Israel – a state that continues to practice a mix of apartheid and Nazism against Semitic Palestinians due to their ethnicity.
In an interview with Cii, Kekana also spoke of a die-in. This mimics the Tel Aviv-driven protracted genocide, also known as “collective punishment”, that continues to claim the lives of ordinary and unarmed civilian Palestinians, including women and children as young as newborns notably in Gaza and West Bank Bantustans but also inside the State of Israel.
“Basically activists just… pretended to be dropping dead to the floor and had placards in hand that (read) something like: ‘Boycott Woolworths’, ‘I boycott apartheid Israel’,” the BDS spokesperson explained.
Kekana also noted that the campaign was ongoing and that it had gained momentum now more than ever. In the lead up to Woolworths’ annual general meeting, scheduled for November 26, in Cape Town, BDS hopes to turn up the heat on the retailer. In the meantime, millions of subjugated Palestinians continue to endure crimes against humanity thanks to Egypt, the United States and most parts of Europe which have, thus far, endorsed Israel’s atrocities.
57 Arrested for Woolworths Protest
Faizel Patel, Radio Islam News, 2014-10-25
At least 57 people who protested in a Woolworths store in Killarney Mall were arrested on Saturday.
The protesters, led by rights group Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) are calling for the retailer to stop importing products from Israel.
The police’s Constable Thabo Malatji said the group was charged with public disturbance. “They went to Woolies and started disturbing customers inside the shop.”
Tasneem Essop from BDS who organised the protest, said some of those arrested were minors.
“It is completely ridiculous and it goes against the values we wish to uphold,” said Essop.
She said the protest was completely peaceful and demonstrators had simply walked into the shop and lay on the ground with their placards.
Essop explained that the activists were not arrested inside Woolworths but were already outside of the mall doors when they were approached by police.
Woolworths said the safety of its customers and employees was its “highest priority”.
“We have no choice but to contact the local authorities when the safety of our customers and employees is threatened,” Woolworths said in a statement.
“The police monitored the protests today and took action when they felt protestors violated the law.”
“Woolworths did not arrest any protestors nor lay any charges.”
A group of people have gathered at Hilbrow Police station calling for the protesters to be released.
Yesterday a Congress of South African Students (Cosas) member placed the head of a pig in the kosher meat section of a Woolworths in Cape Town.
BDS has since distanced itself from the pig head found at Woolworths.
In a statement the group said the latest actions of young people placing pig heads at various Woolworths stores – although aimed at increasing pressure on Woolworths – are not supported, endorsed or encouraged by Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) South Africa.
“We believe that the methods used, namely placing pigs heads in South African Woolworths stores, are very controversial and may not have been properly thought through.
“It may be argued that the placing of pig heads is a form of militant human rights action however there is a great amount of sensitivity surrounding Halaal and Kosher food.”
The pig heads have now effectively made various Woolworths Stores a complete no-go zone for those that buy Kosher or Halaal as those areas are now contaminated,” said BDS.