On Monday evening, April 15th, attempts to sabotage the Israeli Independence day celebrations at the Gold Reef City Lyric Theatre were carried out by over one hundred BDS, COSATU, PSC and MSA members.
The members of these groups together with collaborators began to protest outside of the venue from 6pm. They were shouting, “Down with Israel” slogans, singing and blowing vuvuzelas. One speaker at the event made it clear that these movements are “going to make it so uncomfortable for Zionists to exist in this country” (South Africa) and another speaker stated that, “this will be the last year that they will be celebrating Israeli Independence.” (Which can be viewed as a direct threat to most Jews in SA). From there, certain members of BDS, the MSA and the SRC’s from three Gauteng universities tried to get into the event as people were arriving. A source has said that “they managed to call the Lyric Theater office and bought tickets; they even managed to get into the venue however some were stopped at the door by the heavy security (supplied by both the Jewish Community and Gold Reef City) as they looked suspicious.”
A second source has reported that some of the members of the Anti-Israel groups who were stopped at the door by Security (CSO) at the venue, began to cause a fuss saying that “being denied entry is pure racism and unjust” even though these BDS members had a plan to disrupt the concert. “They used the race card against us even though they were planning something sinister” says the source.
However, security measures did not prevail as an hour into the show, a group of the BDS/MSA/PSC ruffians made it into the venue intimidating members of the audience and shouting swear words, “down with Apartheid-Israel – Free Palestine” and “You suck” to the current performer. Security forces managed to remove them but a sense of uneasiness had already begun to settle within the crowd, “An elderly lady behind me fell to the floor in shock as these guys started intimidating the audience. Her husband had to console her throughout the rest of the concert. It was terrible” says one witness.
Another witness, close to the commotion stated that he had to help settle a shocked woman down. “She was quite a heavily pregnant lady and she started having cramps and pain as a result of the fright caused from the commotion. It was in such bad taste.”
During the closing ceremony of the concert, while world-renown singer Yaniv D’Or’s performed “Eli-Eli”, a Holocaust song written by Hannah Senesh, one of the female protesters who had managed to infiltrate the concert got up and ran on stage screaming “free Palestine” slogans. She together with other members, who had managed to gain access to the concert as well, began to set off stink bombs around the venue, shouting “Israel-Apartheid stinks.” At this point Yaniv who had very bravely carried on his performance hoping that they would leave, made the heroic decision to pick up the protester and removed her off the stage while continuing to sing. He handed her over to security forces that were waiting by the stage.
A number of BDS members were arrested on the scene after this disruption, including the daughter of a senior COSATU official. They spent Monday evening in jail and were released at 4am the next morning.
“Yes the concert was able to carry on which is a triumph in itself (referring to the Yossi Reshef debacle), but in my opinion, it really did upset the vibe. People started becoming a little anxious and it ended on a bit of a bad note. It could have been prevented had security properly searched and scrutinized the patrons coming into the venue. It was an oversight on their part,” says one source.
It seems as if security was once again the problem at the Israeli Independence Day concert and as a result these disgusting events were given an opportunity to unfold. The security matter needs to be seriously examined and a new plan should be implemented to strengthen security at these events. However, in response to claims by BDS/COSATU/MSA and PSC members that protestors who were removed from the venue were thrown down escalators and physically abused, I can confidently refute this and state that these claims are lies. These protesters were removed in the most humane way possible. Witnesses have stated that they were “gently escorted” out of the venue.
This entire event organized by BDS is actively against the South African constitution. Once again, these “freedom fighters” have attempted to silence Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Expression and Freedom of Religion – three core principles of the constitution. Action must be taken against those who go against these principles and moreover those who against the South African Constitution. This event once again shows the aggression and blatant hate for Jews by BDS and the like.
On a more positive note, celebrations at the Wits Yom Ha’atzmaut party were not disrupted at all as the university implemented a ban on any members of these groups coming anywhere near the festivities. They were threatened with serious disciplinary action. There was also a large contingent of security around the event which deterred any unruly action from taking place. A wonderful time was had by all.
Overall, the above events can be seen as a total failure for the BDS campaign.
Side Note: Israeli Independence Day celebrations have been taking place for decades within the Jewish community of South Africa. Yom Ha’atzmaut is a day many Jews celebrate across the globe as a means of being thankful and appreciating the miracle of receiving a Jewish State on May 14th (5 Iyar) 1948. It is also celebrated because a few hours after the State of Israel was created, War was declared on Israel by the six surrounding Arab States. Miraculously, the war was won and Israel made it through what today is known as the War of Independence.