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Johannesburg - Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) South Africa has distanced itself from the Dubula iJuda (Shoot the Jew) song, sang by its members at Wits during the Daniel Zamir concert last week.
Protesters who gathered outside the Wits Great Hall in protest at the Israeli saxophonist’s performance are said to have sung Dubula iJuda (Shoot the Jew) - in reference to the struggle song Shoot The Boer (shoot the farmer).
BDS’s Professor Farid Esack said the organisation’s board and staff “condemn any and all incitement to violence and racism - including anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism - even if it were to come from within our ranks”.
“Given our history of work against racism, including anti-Semitism, we unequivocally distance ourselves from the singing of this song and its sentiments,” he said on Monday.
Esack said it was “unfortunate but not unexpected that supporters of Israel will focus on the singing of this song”.
“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,” he said.
When explaining the context in which the song was sung, Muhammed Desai, co-ordinator of BDS South Africa, was quoted as saying: “Just like you would say Kill the Boer at a funeral during the 1980s, it wasn’t about killing white people; it was used as a way of identifying (Boers) with the apartheid regime.”
Desai told The Star on Monday that just because he had explained the context in which the song had been sung didn’t mean the organisation agreed with it.
The South African Jewish Board of Deputies deplored “this blatant incitement to racist violence against the South African Jewish community”.
It was “deeply shocking” that BDS-SA, an organisation that “purports to stand up for human rights, refuses to acknowledge that it is doing anything wrong by propagating it”, said the board’s national chairwoman, Mary Kluk.
“What this incident unmistakably shows is that BDS-SA’s real agenda is not to stand up for the Palestinian cause but to incite hatred, and possibly even violence, against Jewish South Africans,” she said.
Equal Education’s deputy general secretary, Doron Isaacs, and former treasurer of the Treatment Action Campaign Nathan Geffen, said they were “dismayed” to read that Desai had “justified this behaviour”.
“We are committed to the struggle for Palestinian freedom, equality and justice. It is an extremely difficult struggle waged against one of the most effective and dishonest propaganda campaigns in history.
“Anti-Semitism, besides being personally insulting to us, scores an own goal. It undermines the struggle for Palestinian freedom,” Isaacs and Geffen said, adding that BDS had to issue an unequivocal apology.