Woolworths and Weddings

2015-06-29 10:34

I was at my niece's wedding yesterday when I felt my phone vibrate. It was about an hour before the ceremony was due to begin and I was standing a little removed from where the bride was having her photos taken. The scene captivated me. There was a slight breeze, just enough to lift her veil to charm the photographer and to create mesmerizing movement. The weather had warmed slightly and the glorious Johannesburg winter sun participated in the illumination of her white dress, of her beauty, of her innocence and of hope. Only the buzz in my pocket would rouse me from this reverie.

I removed my phone and read the message. It was a note from a friend to tell me of a News24 article that I needed to read. Woolworths, it would seem, was trending as a result of a “spoof” video that the BDS had released targeting the store. For clarity sake, Woolworths buy about 0.1% of their products from Israel (not nearly enough in my view given the standard of Israeli products) but BDS had listed them as one of their main targets. They spend money on the campaign, they intimidate shoppers, they lie (repeatedly) about their success and now they are apparently resorting to making “spoof” videos in order to get their message (whatever it is) across.

The video is not funny. It’s not particularly smart and it is only mildly creative. In fact, much like the BDS Woolworths campaign, it’s actually pretty boring. And it’s not because we don’t feel for the plight of those suffering around the world, but precisely because we do.

In a special report yesterday, British newspaper The Independent investigated the growth and spread of Isis beyond the areas where they are known to operate. Following the deadly and tragic attacks of Friday where multiple tourists were murdered in Tunisia,  Moslems at prayer were slaughtered in Kuwait and a factory employee beheaded in France, the paper questions whom, if anyone, is able to stop this scourge. The article questions that given the situation in Syria, if anyone will be able to do so. In Syria alone more than 200,000 innocent people have been murdered, many by the use of chlorine gas and barrel bombs while the BDS of the world worry about Woolworths buying a few dates from Israel.

The refugee crises in Africa, the poverty in South Africa, the unrelenting rape and the sale of woman as sex slaves simply don’t interest the BDS as much as Woolworths does. Perhaps this is because Woolworths stores are mostly found in convenient and up-market shopping centre’s with security in the parking lot. Perhaps because they can make nifty little video clips with fancy sound equipment and gorgeous graphics (hardly) with high quality coffee machines on site for when the caffeine urge overtakes these activists. Or maybe it;s because the cause has very little to do with the people they profess to assist and everything to do with those they wish to hurt.

The world is in crises. Isis and the radicalization and highjacking of Islam have darkened the planet. The black-flags hoisted by the perpetrators of evil are ominous and foreboding and the antithesis of all that is good. And all that is pure. And anyone who diverts attention away from this fundamental and desperate cause, is in my view guilty of supporting them.

Incidentally, the wedding was beautiful and the young couple were showered and embraced with the love that they so deserved. Their hope and their innocence and the vast potential stretches before them was the antidote to all that is negative in the world.

Everyone loves brides and pretty much everyone loves weddings (shame on you if you don’t). And pretty much all South Africans love Woolworths. Like biltong and Mrs Balls Chutney and like family back home, it is what ex pat South Africans long-for, even if they are happily settled into their new lives abroad. It is a symbol of South African ingenuity and quality and convenience. And no silly BDS campaign will convince us otherwise. Not unless we allow it to.

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