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.MyShtetl adds:
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 Theatre 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 protestors 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 protestor 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.
Gold Reef City had received a bomb threat on Monday night the SAZF has revealed today, while SAPS, CSO & Gold Reef security were trying to contain illegal protesters. SA Jewry is “entitled to celebrate without intimidation and our rights being trampled on!” said the Fed today.At Wits University, which saw similarly ugly attacks last month that shut down a concert that featured an Israeli-born pianist, things went a bit better this time:
The Fed insists that claims of a violent assault on protestors at Monday’s night’s Yom Ha’atzmaut concert at Gold Reef City “are false and defamatory. On the contrary, it was the protestors who engaged in illegal disruptive actions at a private function, thereby blatantly infringing the right of the Jewish community to celebrate its culture and heritage,” says the Fed.
The Fed claims that Boycott Divestment Sanctions (BDS-SA) protesters gained access to the event under false pretences, threw stink bombs into the audience, attacked and injured an elderly woman and forced themselves onto the stage, where they attempted to attack the performers.
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.