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Protestors support Hezbollah at BDS rally

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Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions South Africa (BDS-SA) appears to have aligned itself with Hezbollah, allowing the terror organisation’s flags to fly and people to chant for the “death” of Israel and Zionism at a protest last week.
by NICOLA MILTZ | Jun 06, 2019

Last Friday, BDS-SA and the Palestine solidarity movement held a protest calling on the Johannesburg City Council to change the name of Sandton Drive immediately (the street on which the United States Consulate is located) to that of international terrorist Leila Khaled.

More than 150 pro-Palestine protesters, many openly brandishing the sinister Hezbollah flag, gathered on the lawns outside the Johannesburg City Council chambers during lunch hour. It coincided with international Al-Quds Day, in which anti-Israel marches are held in numerous cities worldwide.

One pro-Hezbollah activist took to the podium and loudly chanted with the bemused crowd, “Long Live Hezbollah!” “Death to Israel!” “Death to America!” “Death to Zionists!”. The organisers were cagey about him, refusing to divulge his name.

The man also chanted several times, “Long live Nasrallah!” Hassan Nasrallah is the leader of Hezbollah who last week said his Shi’ite organisation had enough precision missiles to hit all the targets it had marked throughout Israel.

The chanting took place against the backdrop of life-size banners of Nasrallah, with the wording: “Only the soldiers of Islam will liberate occupied Palestine” and “With our souls and with blood, we will defend you oh Al-Aqsa.”

Young children were seen waving copies of the yellow and green, machine-gun adorned Hezbollah flag, and several protesters stamped paper Israeli flags into the ground.

“Hezbollah is a terrorist organisation, and a criminal entity,” Professor Hussein Solomon, senior professor of political studies and governance at the University of the Free State, said in response to this event. “Waving the flag of a terrorist organisation is problematic since it is the old problem of confusing so-called liberation movements and freedom fighters with a terrorist organisation.”

Terror expert Jasmine Opperman, a director at the Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium, also said this was of concern. She said it was undeniable that Hezbollah was inclined towards violence against Israel and Jews.

“BDS is going into shock-tactic mode, getting messages across in the most extreme way. We must not underestimate the support for Hamas and Hezbollah in South Africa, where they are not deemed terrorist organisations. There are known financial streams in the country because they are not illegal here.

“The moment you have actions like this against Jews in South Africa, there is a responsibility on government to step in and address the situation because the next step could involve some kind of violence”, Opperman said.

“It is a hatred that grows, and one must ask whether South Africa is going to facilitate this process. A concerning question that remains unanswered is what the relationship is between BDS, Hamas, and Hezbollah, and if it is possible that money is flowing to BDS from both these organisations.”

BDS claims to be a peaceful, human-rights organisation, and vehemently denies being anti-Semitic. Hezbollah is an internationally recognised terrorist organisation. It is unashamedly anti-Semitic, and rejects Israel’s right to exist, as well having been linked to numerous acts of terror against civilians.

It is understood that its flag is considered by many to be incitement against Jews.

This is arguably the first time that dozens of Hezbollah flags have been seen at a BDS-SA anti-Israel rally. In the past, maybe two flags were seen, enough to cause concern in the community.

“BDS does not attempt to hide its true purpose while blatantly waving Hezbollah flags in support of a known terrorist group aimed at Israel,” said the Israeli embassy. “The German bundestag, most states in the United States [US], and other parliaments have already made it clear that BDS is anti-Semitic. No street in the world should be named after a terrorist.”

David Saks of the South African Jewish Board of Deputies said, “BDS is obviously not a democratic, human-rights-oriented movement, as shown by its consistent opposition to initiatives aimed at achieving a negotiated settlement in the Middle East. This is also seen in the threats, intimidation, and disruption it regularly resorts to in order to silence those who dissent from it.

“It is therefore hardly surprising to see a BDS demonstration coupled with support for Hezbollah and Hamas, both designated terrorist organisations committed to Israel’s violent destruction.”

Hezbollah (translated as The Party of G-d) is a Shia Muslim movement which emerged during the early 1980s with financial backing from Iran. Its political wing is already proscribed by several countries including the US state department, but not by the European Union.

The United Kingdom (UK) banned the organisation in February. Membership is considered a criminal offence there, carrying a maximum sentence of up to 10 years.

The Hezbollah flag was noticeably absent from the Al-Quds rally in London last week where it has been seen openly in the past.

BDS, which was supported by the African National Congress, Economic Freedom Fighters, and the minor Al-Jama-ah Party (which originally call for the street name to be changed in council last year), handed over a memorandum to acting mayor Funzela Ngobeni.

The memorandum demanding the immediate name change was addressed to the mayor, speaker, and Johannesburg council. It threatened to “escalate” the campaign if it was not done.

This week, members of the council’s community development department met relevant city officials to discuss the matter.

The spokesperson for the speaker of council, Lillian Kolisang, told the SA Jewish Report that despite budget constraints, before such re-naming proposals could be finalised, due process must be followed in accordance with the Policy on Naming of Streets and Public Places.

In a statement issued on Wednesday, the council said, “At the heart of the naming policy, there is the need for public consultation as an essential element of good governance, and this aspect will still need to be addressed through the city’s processes.”

Solomon has written extensively about terror organisations including Hezbollah. In an article titled, “Hezbollah: The Criminal Syndicate”, he investigates the criminal activity Hezbollah uses to fund itself, including drug trafficking, kidnapping, the diamond trade, cigarette smuggling, and intellectual property crime.

“Hezbollah has proven itself a tangible threat to international peace and security, and will continue to do so as long as its criminal network stays intact,” he said.

When the UK banned the organisation earlier this year, Solomon told the SA Jewish Report that South Africa should do the same.

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