Spat over protest at SA Israel concert

2013-04-18 09:40
Israeli flag. (AP)

Israeli flag. (AP)

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Johannesburg - The Congress of SA Trade Unions on Wednesday condemned what it called "Zionist brutality" after two women were assaulted during a pro-Palestinian protest at a concert.

"The 250 protesters... were picketing peacefully at a concert in Gold Reef City, Johannesburg, organised by the SA Zionist Federation (SAZF) and the SA Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD), " spokesperson Patrick Craven said.

"Young activists had also bought tickets, made their way into the venue of the Israeli event and partook in a direct-action Greenpeace-like protest where they released bad smelling 'stinky-bombs' and wore T-shirts that read 'Israeli Apartheid Stinks' in luminous green writing."

He said the protesters claimed the concert on Monday night was essentially a "celebration of murder, expulsion and continued Israeli oppression against the indigenous Palestinian people".

Assaulted

Craven said the protesters were assaulted by the Jewish Community Security Organisation (CSO), the SAZF and the SAJBD.

He said during the protest two women were violently assaulted by the CSO who tied their hands with cable, covered their faces and smashed their heads into the parking lot's concrete paving.

A man suffered concussion after protesters were forcibly thrown down escalators.

"[He] was locked into a passageway where he was repeatedly and simultaneously kicked in the stomach by more than five CSO thugs," Craven said.

"Members of the Jewish community attending the event also punched a woman protester in the face several times resulting in a serious swelling injury."

Craven said it was "absolutely outrageous" that the CSO acted in such a brutal fashion and that the concert organisers chose to use them instead of Gold Reef City security or the police.

'Illegal disruptive actions'

However, SAZF chairperson Avrom Krengel said the charges of violent assault on protesters were "false and defamatory".

"On the contrary, it was the protesters who engaged in illegal disruptive actions at a private function, thereby blatantly infringing the right of the Jewish community to celebrate its culture and heritage," Krengel said.

"Having, under false pretences, gained access to the venue where a concert was being held, protesters threw stink bombs into the audience, attacked and injured an elderly woman and forced themselves onto the stage, where they attempted to attack the performers."

Krengel said the concert was a celebration of Israel Independence Day.

The conditions that allowed the protesters entry included an 80 people limitation, he said.

He said the statement by Cosatu admitted that they violated the condition.

"In addition, Gold Reef City received a bomb threat," Krengel said.

He said the constitutional right of the Jewish community to freedom of association was "trampled" on by "radical anti-Israel" activists.

The event organisers were considering appropriate charges and civil proceedings in the high court.

'Israel-hating extremists'

He said the Boycott Divestment Sanctions movement in South Africa provoked ugly confrontations and falsely claim to be victimised.

"The long list of inflammatory and fabricated allegations of violent assault on protesters that are now being made by the BDS lobby demonstrates yet again the shameless depths to which its adherents are prepared to stoop in order to spread hatred against Israel and its supporters."

Krengel added that the SAJBD and SAZF rejected "this latest act by Israel-hating extremists of trampling on the rights of others and then resorting to brazen lies and smear tactics to depict them as being the guilty party".

Craven said Cosatu was demanding that criminal charges be brought against the CSO, the concert organisers, Krengel and the president of the SAJBD.

 

Read more on:    sajbd  |  cosatu  |  johannesburg  |  middle east peace

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