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In an unprecedented show of co-operative solidarity, close on 2000 South Africans marched to the Department of Trade and Industry in South Africa’s capital city Pretoria.

They marched to protest against the decision by the Minister of the Department of Trade and Industry to relabel goods coming from Israel as coming from the “Occupied Palestinian Territories”.

The idea for the march was driven by Rev Kenneth Meshoe, leader of the political party, the African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP).

The march was enthusiastically supported by the leadership of the IFP, the Shembe Church and Impact for Christ Ministries as well as by representatives of the Congolese, Zimbabwean and Nigerian communities in the country and by the SA Zionist Federation, representing the South African Jewish community.

It was an unprecedented event: a march initiated by notable members of various Black communities, showing their support for and belief in Israel by taking to the streets in a public display of support for Israel.

Disciplined and dedicated, the crowd marched with banners and posters, with songs and chanting, from the Art Museum in Pretoria to the offices of the Department of Trade and Industry.

What united them, as well as their love for Israel, was their total and unquestioning rejection of the Minister’s proposed stance. This is based on a biased and prejudicial view of the Middle East conflict.

In addition their determination not to allow Israel to be singled out for censure was evident in that they questioned why the same steps are not taken against countries like China, which labels as its own products from Tibet; like India, which labels as its own goods produced in Kashmir; and like Turkey, which labels as its own, products made in Kurdistan or Cyprus.

The march was hugely successful for a number of reasons, not least of which was the excellent public display of support for Israel from various communities, and the obvious discomfort of a number of pro-Palestinian bodies including Cosatu which lambasted the Shembe Church and other Christian groups for their participation in the event while they simultaneously condemned the SAZF in the most distasteful and offensive manner.

By Ben Swartz

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