From BDS South Africa
REMOVAL OF THE PALESTINE SOLIDARITY BILLBOARDS
– Early in October 2012, several Palestine solidarity billboards were put up along highways by BDS South Africa and the Palestine Solidarity Alliance (PSA) using various billboard companies.
– Late in October 2012, two of the over two dozen Palestine solidarity billboards were contracted out to Continental Outdoor Media. Continental Outdoor Media accepted the artwork for the billboards and accordingly erected the billboards. However, after the Continental Outdoor Media billboards were put up the company came under pressure from members of the Israeli lobby and in particular from the South African Zionist Federation and its sister body the South African Jewish Board of Deputies.
– On 30 October 2013, Continental Outdoor Media, under pressure from the Israeli lobby, removed the Palestine solidarity billboards. No prior notification, explanation or communication was sent by Continental Media to BDS South Africa before the removal. Instead, a joint email circular (click here) was sent out by the South African Zionist Federation and the South African Jewish Board of Deputies claiming credit for removing the billboards: “On contact with the owners of the billboard site [Continental Outdoor Media]… literally within 6 working hours of the [Palestine solidarity] billboard having gone up – it was removed.”
– On 01 November 2012, the chairperson of the South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) said: “On being approached…[the Continental Outdoor Media] CEO expressed his most ‘serious and sincere apologies’ to the Jewish community and ensured that immediate steps were taken to remove it [the Palestine solidarity billboard]. Kol Hakavod [congratulations] to Ben Swartz [of the SA Zionist Federation] and Shira Goldblum for their excellent work in dealing with this matter….[However] it may prove to be only a temporary reprieve.”
– On 02 November 2012, BDS South Africa responded to the Chairperson of the SAJBD in a press release making it clear that: “The SA Jewish Board of Deputies, for as long as they champion Zionism, do not speak on behalf of all South African Jews but only on behalf of those who believe in the racist ideas of Zionism and the state of Israel –there are many principled Jews who do not consider themselves Zionists or supporters of Israel. Thus, the apology from Continental Outdoor Media to the SA Jewish Board of Deputies, is an apology to racism.”
During the course of 2013, BDS South Africa tried for several months through its representatives to resolve this issue. Continental Outdoor Media later claimed that the billboards were also removed because they were not allowed by the City of Johannesburg, because the billboard’s artwork violated certain standards and a host of other reasons. The removal of the billboards, BDS South Africa maintains, is an infringement on the basic principles of Freedom of Speech and Expression. BDS South Africa is forced to now go to court due to Continental Outdoor Media’s refusal to respect the contractual and constitutional rights of BDS South Africa.
WHAT WAS PRINTED ON THE
PALESTINE SOLIDARITY BILLBOARDS?
The Palestine solidarity billboards that were put up by BDS South Africa and the PSA graphically explained the Israeli Occupation of Palestine. In particular, the billboards in question (which were removed) depicted a shrinking Palestinian territory by an increasing Israeli Occupation over the years in a series of maps. Under the maps, “Palestinian Loss of Land – 1946 to 2010” was printed in large letters.Click here for photos of the Palestine billboards that were removed by Continental Outdoor Media.
ISRAELI LOBBY HAS HISTORY OF USING THREATS
AND INTIMIDATION TO SILENCE EXPRESSION
Over the years, the Israeli lobby in South Africa (primarily led by the SA Jewish Board of Deputies and the SA Zionist Federation) has become known for its pressure, threats, bullying and intimidation against anyone that is critical of Israel and Israel’s Apartheid policies against the oppressed indigenous Palestinians.
– In 2010, the Israeli lobby in South Africa threatened to prevent Judge Richard Goldstone from attending the Bar Mitzvah of his grandson because Goldstone was part of a United Nations investigation that found Israel guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity.
– In February 2011 the Israeli lobby in South Africa, this time led by the SA Jewish Board of Deputies, tried (but failed) to ban a radio advert from being aired on SABC’s 5fm radio station. The advert featured a message of support for the cultural boycott of Israel by Dave Randall (lead guitarist of the UK music band, Faithless). Click here to watch the SABC 5FM radio advert which was also put up on YouTube.
– In March 2012, the Israeli lobby in South Africa made financial threats against Wits University to have charges laid against students who had protested against an Israeli-embassy funded concert.
– In April 2013, South African activists laid charges against the South African Jewish Community Security Organization (CSO), the South African Zionist Federation (SAZF), the South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD). Charges were laid after a violent assault of two young women Palestine solidarity activists (including the daughter of a senior official from South Africa’s trade union federation, COSATU) and four others. One Palestine solidarity activist was left in a state of concussion due to the assault injuries.
– In September 2013, members of the Israeli lobby in South Africa forced a Ster Kinekor movie theater to remove a Tri-Continental Film Festival and BDS South Africa banner because it had a map of Palestine and a quote by Nelson Mandela. The quote by Mandela on the banner that was removed read: “we know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians…”