Cape Town - Palestinian solidarity organisations have expressed outrage over plans by the SA Zionist Federation (SAZF) to host the “biggest party of the century” next week to mark the 75th anniversary of the founding of the state of Israel.
The celebrations come in the wake of an escalation in violence in the Holy Land, where Israeli police stormed the Al-Aqsa Mosque in the occupied Old City of Jerusalem during Ramadaan prayers two weeks ago, drawing international condemnation.
Earlier this month, the SAZF announced the commemorative party for Yom Ha’atzmaut (Israeli Independence Day) on April 25 at the Yeshiva College in Johannesburg, with music performances by The Kiffness and Sona.
Last year, the popular music producer and social commentator, who goes by the stage name The Kiffness, raised more than R1 million by remixing a traditional Ukrainian song, with royalties from the song being directed towards Ukrainian relief efforts.
The Kiffness was approached for comment on all his platforms, but did not respond to the Cape Argus.
In Cape Town, music band GoodLuck is expected to perform at an unspecified location on April 26. Last year, pro-Palestinian activists protested outside the venue.
SAZF national chairperson Rowan Polovin said: “Yom Ha’atzmaut is an opportunity for Jews around the world to celebrate the rebirth and survival of the world’s only Jewish state, and the fact that she continues not only to exist, but to thrive.
“Israel is still the only multicultural democracy in the entire Middle East, and one that protects and offers equal rights to all religions, minorities, ethnicities and sexual orientations.”
This week saw hundreds of Capetonians gathered for a mass iftar (fast-breaking dinner) in solidarity with the Palestinian people. The protest was organised by the Al-Quds Foundation and the Muslim Judicial Council in Three Anchor Bay on Sunday.
Last Friday, which coincided with International Quds Day, more than 250 people marched from District Six to Parliament, calling for Palestinians’ right to self-defence and for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS).
The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel in South Africa (BDS SA) coalition called on The Kiffness, Sona and GoodLuck not to participate in an event “that whitewashes apartheid Israel”.
“75 years of so-called ‘independence’ for Israel is 75 years of catastrophe for Palestinians,” Roshan Dadoo, BDS SA Coalition co-ordinator said.
“We are sure that these artists would not have supported apartheid in South Africa. We are sure that they will also not support apartheid Israel.”
The coalition further called on cultural workers not to perform, screen, or exhibit in Israel, or at any institution allied to Israel, its lobby groups, or complicit institutions locally or internationally, and for the government to end all diplomatic and economic ties with Israel as well, and to implement a cultural, sporting and academic boycott.
“The SAZF’s planned party comes across as an extravagant, fascist orgy in which they wish to glorify Israel’s apartheid, which is a cruel system, cruel domination against Palestinians and a crime against humanity,” Palestine Solidarity Campaign spokesperson Usuf Chikte said.
“Is there not a duplicity and a racism in a selective support for European suffering and a total disregard for Palestinian suffering, as many have pointed out? The Kiffness should answer, especially if this bias and discrimination is based on whiteness, religion and racism.”
In February, the South African Rugby Union (Saru) withdrew an invitation to an Israeli rugby team, the Tel Aviv Heat, from participating in last month’s Mzansi Challenge after a public outcry.
South African Friends of Israel (Safi) said: “It is sad to see that Israel, as the only democracy in the Middle East, is being treated in this manner by a South African sporting entity… South African musicians, models and comedians are always welcomed to expand and promote their careers with visits to adoring fans in Israel.”