'Hands off Siraj Desai, SAZF!' - SA BDS Coalition

Yet another reflection of hatred that Israeli apologists continue to display for anti-apartheid activists

SA BDS Coalition says 'Hands off Siraj Desai, SAZF!'

12 June 2021

The SA BDS Coalition is appalled but unsurprised by the announcement yesterday that the South African Zionist Federation (SAZF) lodged a spurious and ridiculous complaint with the Judicial Conduct Committee (JCC) against Judge Siraj Desai. It is yet another reflection of the hatred that Israeli apologists continue to display for anti-apartheid activists.

We note that some of the documents provided to the media are stamped and notarised in apartheid Israel. This is another indication of what we already know: that the SAZF is simply a proxy of Israeli apartheid in South Africa, and cares more about defending Israel and propagating its falsehoods, its occupation and colonialism than it does about South Africa, its history and its struggles.

It is no surprise that the SAZF, notorious for its collaboration with apartheid South Africa in the past, would embark on a vengeful attack against Judge Desai, whose conduct as a judge is impeccable and praised by progressives and human rights activists. His distinguished life-long record in the dispensing of justice nationally, and in defence of human rights globally, but also as a long-standing activist that has for decades stood on the side of the poor, deserves to be honoured. This is diametrically opposed to the record of the SAZF, an apologist for racial supremacy, inspired by an Israeli judicial system with its apartheid military and civilian courts where judgements on ethnic cleansing, racial injustice and violation of human rights are dressed in judicial robes.

The baseless complaint against Judge Desai seems to be retaliation for the failure to secure a seat at the Constitutional Court by Judge Unterhalter, an apologist for Zionism and its racist project.

The SAZF is employing Israeli hasbara tactics in its retaliatory and vindictive attacks on Judge Desai in an attempt to gain ground in its propaganda war to curtail the growing public relations losses Israel is suffering as the citizens of the world condemn the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians and the occupation, colonialism and apartheid of Israel.

An iconic figure in the global anti-apartheid struggle, Judge Desai and others like him represent a threat to apartheid Israel and its Zionist project of racism, war-mongering, war crimes and crimes against humanity that the ICC is investigating. Given its fervent support for the criminal actions of Israel, the SAZF surely deserves to be listed as an accessory to such crimes.

True to the principled stance that Judge Desai is known for, he is unwavering in and makes no apology for his support of the Palestinian people. We are sure he would welcome an opportunity to ventilate his views on the plight of Palestinians and their ongoing persecution by Israel, aided and abetted by the SAZF.

His views on Palestine and Israel are no different from the official South African position as articulated by President Cyril Ramaphosa and Minister Naledi Pandor, and are consistent with international humanitarian law and international human rights law. The SAZF, on the other hand, has repeatedly promoted and praised violations of international law and crimes against humanity.

Judge Desai’s conduct, actions and rulings, his dispensing of justice in one of the most unequal societies in the world that is reeling from the deeply-rooted legacy of colonialism and apartheid, are a fine example for a new cadre of judicial officers, and will not be deterred by the likes of supremacist formations such as the SAZF, which undermine the transformation that Judge Desai is part of.

Apartheid South Africa was unable to intimidate and silence Judge Desai. Apartheid Israel and its apologists in South Africa will similarly fail. The SAZF’s nostalgia for South African apartheid and its support for Israeli apartheid cannot be allowed be flourish in our country.

Issued by SA BDS Coalition, 12 June 2021