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Protesters on march amid Israel label row

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IFP leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi leads protesters to the Department of Trade and Industry. Picture: Thobile Mathonsi

TSHEPO TSHABALALA

TWO opposing perspectives were evident at the march to the Department of Trade and Industry in protest at minister Rob Davies’s decision to draw up a notice that would require traders in Israel to brand selected products as originating from “Occupied Palestinian Territory”.

While hundreds of African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP), Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP), pro-Israeli and church groups called on the minister to withdraw the notice or cancel it, a handful of anti-Israeli protesters voiced their support for the notice.

Macdonald Netshitenzhe, director of the department’s consumer and corporate regulation division, received a memorandum from IFP president Mangosuthu Buthelezi and ACDP leader Kenneth Meshoe.

Netshitenzhe cited the UN’s demarcation of Israel in 1948 and ways in which foods are prepared, taking culture into account, as major reasons behind the notice being drafted.

Meshoe said the notice might be a step in pursuing the Open Shuhada Street group’s agenda of boycotting products from Israel, and might “advance repeated calls by the Iranian government to annihilate Israel”.

“We remind our government that consumer boycotts were the precursor to the persecution of Jews in Germany, which ended in the Holocaust,” Buthelezi said.

Crystal Dicks, representing the Coalition for Free Palestine, which is yet to be launched and is to be led by Cosatu, called the march a “rent-a-crowd” event.

Anti-Israeli protesters brandished placards that read “Zionists are racists” and “Situation in Israel worse than apartheid”.

Dicks said South Africans had the right to decide whether they wanted to buy “tainted” products. She suggested even stronger bans on Israel. “How can the ACDP, a Christian organisation whose members have been through apartheid, support an apartheid state?” – Cadet News Agency


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