Israel exports racism to South Africa

What do you think would happen if an American musician, for example a country singer in Alabama, held a concert but made sure that only white people were allowed to buy tickets?

Inconceivable, you might think, especially in this day and age where racism – at least the explicit variety – carries a taboo that will probably bring the wrath of the community on the heads of the perpetrators.

Not so in Israel.

According to Electronic Intifada, the organizers of a concert for the Israeli jazz musician Daniel Zamir in South Africa “are taking surreptitious security measures to ensure that it is a Jews-only event”.

A media release from the South African Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, BDS South Africa, said that on 26 August

the Wits University Palestine Solidarity Committee and BDS South Africa made available two audio recordings… with evidence of ethnic racial-profiling and background-checking practiced by pro-Israeli organisations in South Africa (which include the South African Jewish Board of Deputies, the South African Zionist Federation and the  controversial Community Security Organisation) who have funded the hosting of an Israeli concert at Wits University in Johannesburg (scheduled to take place today, Wednesday 28 August).

Excerpts from the recordings can be heard in the YouTube clip below. In one of them, a Wits University student is heard to ask “This is a Jewish only event?” to which a representative of the concert organizers answers, “Yes, it is.”

The concert’s sponsor, Beyachad – the headquarters of the South Africa Jewish Board of Deputies and the South African Zionist Federation, two pro-Israeli organizations – says in the audio recording that it had bought out all the tickets, which it was reselling tickets only to audience members who provided their full names and ID numbers and underwent background checks by the Community Security Organisation (CSO), a communal group that has previously been involved in racial profiling at the university.

According to the BDS South Africa media release,

In 2009, incidents of racist treatment by the CSO took place at another pro-Israeli event hosted at Wits University. After students and staff complained that they had been racially profiled and victimized by members of the CSO, the university commissioned an independent investigation by respected advocate Geoff Budlender. This resulted in the 2009 Budlender Report (find here).

The report found that while CSO “did not have a policy of treating members of different racial groups in a different manner,” such differential treatment in fact occurred in practice.

In April 2013, BDS South Africa says, “the CSO was implicated in extra-judicial and violent assaults on two women protestors, including a former Wits student”.

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