Protesters chanted anti-Semitic slogans and threatened to kill Jews outside a South African Zionist Federation event in Johannesburg on Sunday.
“You think this is Israel, we are going to kill you!” and “You Jews do not belong here in South Africa!” supporters of the BDS movement shouted in front of the Sandton Convention Centre, where the South Africa-Israel Expo and a federation conference was being held. They were joined by protesters in African National Congress and South African Communist Party T-shirts. Together, they disrupted traffic in the city’s business and financial center.
ANC officials and figures from the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement took turns addressing the crowd from atop a small truck protest organizers had parked outside the convention hall.
“At one point a man got on the truck and said that as a Jew he was calling on other Jews to stop apartheid in Palestine,” a man who said he had come from Pretoria to attend the trade expo told Haaretz, adding, “The protesters were pushing security staff stationed outside the conference center. It was shocking.”
Security officers blocking the main entrance directed people leaving the event to exit through the attached shopping mall, out of concern for their safety.
It is “every South African citizen’s constitutional right to attend events of our choosing without fear of intimidation,” the South African Jewish Board of Deputies said in a statement.
“From the outset, it was clear that the aim of the demonstration, in the protesters’ own words, was to ‘shut down Sandton’ and ensure ‘no Zionist conference be held on our soil,’” board of deputies chairwoman Mary Kluk said, adding, “When their attempts at doing so failed, it became apparent that the rally was nothing more than a front to stoke up Jew-hatred in South Africa.”