Sunday, 1 September 2013

Statement of Opposition to the Failure of BDS South Africa to Condemn the Singing of "dubula e juda" ("shoot the Jew")


Statement of Opposition to the Failure of BDS South Africa to Condemn the Singing of "dubula e juda" ("shoot the Jew")

On 28 August 2013 protesters gathered at the Daniel Zamir concert at Wits University as part of BDS South Africa’s campaign and sang songs containing the slogan "dubula e juda" ("shoot the Jew").

RUPSF supports the broad principles of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against the Israeli state’s continued illegal occupation of Palestine precisely because we reject racism in any form. It therefore goes without saying that we are equally and unequivocally opposed to any expression of Anti-Semitism.

The response of Muhammed Desai, coordinator of BDS South Africa, to this appalling and intimidatory expression of Anti-Semitism is not only totally unacceptable, but legitimates crude and inflammatory racism. It is also disingenuous of Desai to legitimate his racism through reference to an anti-apartheid struggle era freedom song which has no relevance for creating a democratic, non-racial South Africa. Desai reportedly said, "Just like you would say kill the Boer at [a] funeral during the eighties it wasn't about killing white people, it was used as a way of identifying with the apartheid regime". He is further quoted as saying that "the whole idea of anti-Semitism is blown out of proportion". If these statements have been reported correctly then he holds disturbing personal views. BDS South Africa is part of a global movement of solidarity with the Palestinian struggle for social justice. RUPSF unequivocally locates itself within this broader international movement of solidarity as the anti-apartheid movement was an international solidarity movement to great effect. We are concerned that BDS South Africa, by leaving these racist statements unchallenged, is complicit in the support of Anti-Semitism and therefore potentially opening the work of the international movement to disrepute.

We as RUPSF cannot be complicit in the condoning of racism of whatever sort. We have therefore, after very careful consideration, made a decision that our continued support for BDS South Africa and the broad campaign it is leading is conditional on the following:

1. The issuing by BDS South Africa of an unqualified apology and an unqualified rejection of the song and the statements by Desai.
2. Muhammed Desai’s resignation of his position
3. The exclusion from the campaign of all other members or supporters involved in making the decision to sing this song.

We continue to support boycotts, divestment and sanctions as a strategy in view of the ongoing violation of the basic rights of Palestinians. However we cannot support BDS South Africa as an organisation unless all three of the criteria listed above are adhered to.

Rhodes University Palestinian Solidarity Forum