BDS Leader in South Africa Calls on Supporters to ‘Shoot the Jews’
The Germans have a word – ‘Schadenfreude’ – which, loosely translated, means to take satisfaction in the discomfort of another. This is exactly what many South African Jews are feeling as we witness Nathan Geffen, Doron Isaacs, Stephen Friedman et al., try to scramble and disassociate themselves from the anti-Semitic utterances of their bedfellow Muhammed Desai, who recently led crowds in a rendition of the chilling mantra, “Shoot the Jew.”
Anyone sufficiently naïve to think that this noble call to action died with the defeat of the Nazis has received a clear signal that it continues to exist, even amongst those who are openly supported by members of our very own community.
Not that this comes as any surprise to those of us who can tell the difference between fact and fiction. The depth of the hatred directed at Jews both in South Africa and abroad, if not clearly evident, lies just beneath the surface, waiting to pop out at the slightest provocation.
Before I’m accused of oversensitivity as the target of a supposedly innocuous chant calling for my death, allow me to remind Desai that the equally harmless call to “Kill the Boer” contributed to a fair number of murders of white farmers over the past two decades.
There is little more unpredictable than the actions of an uncontrolled mob.
Until now, Jewish supporters of the BDS campaign have ducked and dived behind the claim that the focus of their organization is primarily directed at Israel’s supposed ill-treatment of the Palestinians, and ending the occupation of the West Bank. The villain was always Zionism, never Jews as such.
Happy to work for a good, recognizable cause, many intrepid Jewish do-gooders climbed on board. Nothing makes one feel better than to have a banner to wave and an underdog to support, particularly when you’re doing it from the safety of an armchair thousands of kilometers away from the site of the action.
Despite the clear warning bells, which included some hostile, anti-Jewish comments from Zwelithini Vavi, Bongani Masuku, and that doyen of the ANC, Ahmed Kathrada, our brave, committed activists, chose to plow ahead. These threats were not directed at them; they were not a component of the target. After all, were they not the ‘good Jews’ with the good cause and the right friends?
Of course, the analogy is clear;: Germany 1933-45. There were no ‘good Jews,’ only good dead ones.
What a shock to suddenly find yourself on the outside looking in. What a strange sensation to have to face the cold reality of a leading light within the BDS movement, Muhammed Desai, defending the call to shoot Jews because, according to him, “the word ‘Jews’ was not meant in a literal fashion.”
In fact, Desai claimed that the call to kill Jews was “just like you would say kill the Boer at [a] funeral during the eighties [and] it wasn’t about killing white people, it was used as a way of identifying with the apartheid regime.”
Perhaps Desai can explain that to Amy Biehl, Dr. Melville Edelstein, and the 3,000 white farmers murdered in an orgy of killing following the acquisition of new-found freedom.
Desai should also explain how the word “Jews” can be used in any sense other than the “literal.” It is certainly no verb, adverb, nor adjective.
One can only imagine the outcry and retribution that would follow were Jews to sing, “Kill the Muslim.”
What doesn’t appear to penetrate Desai’s limited intellect is that when a mob with a cause (however misguided) is presented with an appealing and emotive slogan, the line separating rhetoric from violence is thin indeed. Ask the millions of Jews who died in the pogroms of Eastern Europe.
In their scramble to either justify or condemn this embarrassing outrage, some strange things have been said which do no more than raise further questions. For example, Professor Farid Esack, writing on behalf of the board of BDS South Africa, expressed his opposition to “any and all incitement to violence and racism – including anti-Semitism and Zionism- even if it were to come from within our ranks.”
In the context of his statement, Esack is saying that “Zionism” should not be subject to racism. This is an open admission by Esak that Zionism is not the monster that it is portrayed as being, but is in fact the respectable movement that it is.
Thank you Dr. Esack! Your supporters will be delighted with your acknowledgment of Israel’s respectability.
However, ‘the Lord giveth and the Lord taketh.’ And close behind this admission, Esack ensures that we clearly understand that it is “unfortunate but not unexpected that supporters of Israel will focus on the singing of this song. … [as the] purpose and context [of the protest] … were and remain the larger struggle against Israeli apartheid, Israel’s illegal Occupation and its violation of Palestinian rights.”
The fact that Israel’s occupation is, according to International Law, not illegal; that Israel does not practice apartheid by any stretch of the imagination; and that Palestinian rights may be being violated, but are violated more severely by the Palestinian Authority, is obviously not understood by Esack.
Esack’s claim that it is unfortunate that supporters of Israel will focus on the singing of the song prompts the question: “Unfortunate for who?”
Unfortunate for the veracity of the BDS movement, which sails on the so-called victories of ‘persuading’ visiting performers to cancel their tours of Israel through threats and coercion, or the visit by Professor Steven Hawkins, who has yet to explain how he can hypocritically allow himself to use an Israeli designed microchip that enables him to speak?
The victories of BDS are small and hollow, and, other than an inconvenience, do little to nothing in advancing the cause they claim to pursue. Their actions, as we have now seen, are grounded in bigotry, hatred, and intolerance. In calling for the killing of Jews, they have revealed the evil within their ranks and the corruption of their aims.
Another Jewish advocate of BDS, political analyst Professor Steven Friedman, has rushed to say, “A series of organizations that support the boycotts have made it clear they don’t think it’s a remotely acceptable slogan. … It is very important that those of us who support the boycott make it clear it’s about the denial of rights and the denial of self-expression and self-government for the Palestinian people. It’s not targeted at a particular ethnic group.”
But that’s not true, Professor, otherwise what was sung would not have been sung. What do you not understand about “Shoot the Jew?” All the spin in the world cannot change what has been said and against whom. Even as an avowed opponent of Israel, you, as a fellow Jew, must feel a little niggle of discomfort at the thought that such bigotry can surface so easily from the mouth of one of the leaders of an organization that you openly support.
Finally, prominent anti-Israel activists, Nathan Geffen and Doron Isaacs lamely bleat that, “Anti-Semitism, besides being personally insulting to us, scores an own-goal. It undermines the struggle for Palestinian freedom.”How touching. Perhaps you need to reassess who your real friends might be.
My closing question to those Jews who swell the ranks of BDS is simple: With the identification of the undeniable true feelings of your fellow travelers, where is your self respect?