11 March '16..
I have written here before about the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement in South Africa. This week was supposed to be a good week for its supporters. Israeli Apartheid Week ran from March 1st through the 10th (because in South Africa just one week isn’t enough to unburden oneself of one’s loathing of Israel). The ruling African National Congress had, as it has in prior years, heartily endorsed Israeli Apartheid Week and made members of its executive committee available for various events associated with it. Things were looking up.
But a funny thing happened on the way to the celebration of anti-Israel bias. BDS-South Africa proved that it does not know how to play a winning hand.
The Daily Vox, a South African paper written by and for young people, has been running a series called Apartheid 2.0. The Vox, though it is affiliated with no political party, is no lover of Israel. Indeed, Apartheid 2.0 is about “Palestine, Israel’s settler-colonial project, and apartheid policies over the Palestinian people.” But the editors made the error of running two pieces critical of the BDS movement.
Neither piece was pro-Israel. One ended “Israel must fall.” The other complained that “Zionist influence has strengthened” as a result of the incompetence of the BDS movement.
As if to prove the latter point, BDS-South Africa responded by attacking the paper. When the editors offered Muhammad Desai, a BDS leader (and himself a nasty piece of work) a chance to respond, he consulted his board. Farid Esack, a professor at the University of Johannesburg wrote back to Desai, but copying the Vox: “This is fuckin malicious! Couldn’t these guys have waited a week or two until after IAW to run these piece. Where the hell do they expect us to get the time to do replies in the middle of this week. Just what is their agenda?” BDS-South Africa promptly canceled a previously scheduled online discussion hosted by the Daily Vox.
BDS is known, of course, for not wanting to talk to Zionists, but it turns out, as Azad Essa, executive editor of the Vox, notes, that BDS-South Africa “is not interested in anything that challenges their methods, or logic.”
I wonder then, how they will respond to Israeli Foreign Ministry Director General Dore Gold’s visit to South Africa. Gold met Thursday with his South African counterpart, Jerry Matthews Matijila. According to the Times of Israel, they agreed “to improve cooperation on such issues as water, agriculture, trade, and science and technology.” Was it only last month that BDS-South Africa was celebrating the cancellation of a conference on water issues to which Israeli ambassador Arthur Lenk had been invited?
And to think, the week started out with so much promise.
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