Calls for boycotts against Jewish businesses alarming – SAJBD

Board says Muhammed Desai praised 300 hardware stores for severing ties

Calls for boycotts on Jewish Business alarming

10 June 2021

Calls for boycotts of Jewish businesses have again reared their ugly and antisemitic head.  Muhammed Desai, the Director of Africa4Palestine has praised and congratulated 300 South African owned hardware stores for severing ties with Jewish businesses.  

He does so, based on the fact that they have cancelled their contracts with SA based suppliers and companies “that have relations with or have shown support for Israel”.  According to him, the cancelled contracts have caused these businesses to lose over “30 million rands a month of contracts”.

We are not fooled by his couching of words  or references to those who “have relations with or who have shown support for Israel” and those, “… standing with Israel, having ties with Israel …”.  What he actually means, are “Jews”.  According to the UCT Kaplan Centre 2019 study 90% of SA Jews support Israel, so invariably, what Desai is calling for, are boycotts of Jewish businesses. 

The delight that he takes in destroying these Jewish businesses is gut wrenching, not least because of the fragile and precarious economic climate in South Africa.  Will Desai and the BDS organisations rejoice in the jobs lost by these businesses as they are forced to retrench staff or close as a result of this boycott?

His so called victory of boycotts of Jewish business will not impact the Palestinian - Israeli conflict.  All these threats achieve is to try to intimidate local South African Jews who hold an opinion different to the BDS.  And the South African Jewish community will not be intimidated.  It’s only affect will be to harm South African businesses trying desperately to survive and retain jobs. 

Our Constitution states that everyone has the right to freedom of conscience, religion, thought belief and opinion.  There is no rider that excludes Jews and people who have a connection to Israel.  Nor does it call for the destroying of livelihoods of people for daring to believe differently.  On the contrary, it protects the rights of those to have different opinions.  Perhaps someone should remind the BDS movement of this.

In his congratulatory letter to the boycotters, Desai compares Israel to “Nazi Germany” and the “Holocaust”.  The irony of his use of Holocaust terminology is also not lost on us Jews.  Nazi Germany also came to our minds when we read this letter.  We remember that the Holocaust began with the boycotting of Jewish businesses. 

Issued by Wendy Kahn, National Director, SAJBD, 10 June 2021