One stands in awe at the commitment shown by BDS South Africa. The sheer selflessness and personal sacrifice evidenced last evening in Johannesburg can only be admired, even by those who are not supporters of their cause. For indeed, Mohamed Desai, leader of their band, wore a BDS T shirt to an up-market health club in one of the more affluent areas of the city. And made certain it went viral. And what makes it so courageous is that it was an ugly T-shirt.
It’s perfectly true. Anyone can go to Gaza or to the disputed territories (the UN and some real humanitarians do it all the time) to assist on the ground. Anyone can commit themselves to educating and rebuilding the destitute of a war torn area. But it takes real sacrifice to lead from the front and to don unimpressive unisex wear at one of Johannesburg’s finest establishments. That is what commitment is really about.
Virgin Active’s Old Eds club in situated in the leafy up-market suburb of Houghton. Palatial homes are the norm and the gym is found a few blocks away from where Nelson Mandela lived until his passing. The gym is frequented by the very “Rainbow Nation” that Mandela spoke about, and he could on occasion be seen visiting the club, where he would greet and converse with the patrons. This is battle ground selected by the BDS. It’s the fitness equivalent of their Woolworths campaign.
The club is a haven for those weary of the stressed life that South Africans lead, and it was for that reason that a few days prior, the manager had asked Desai, in the future, to please not wear his T-shirt to the gym. The manager’s concern was that his apparel politicised the environment. Desai, never one to miss a photo opportunity, indicated that indeed he would wear it again and would not be prevented from entering the gym. And so he returned, (in a hopefully freshly laundered number), along with a crew to ensure that all was captured on film. Truthfully, given the option of seeing him in either a BDS T-shirt or in lycra, I would definitely choose the former.
The situation unsurprisingly provided a perfect launch pad to the inherently anti Israel media. Outrage spewed from presenters of various radio talk shows and BDS cohorts fuelled the situation on Twitter.
The BDS in South Africa are particularly fond of up-market establishments. Not ones to get their hands too dirty (with real humanitarian work), they prefer to focus on the gorgeous stores with a vast selection of products, excellent security (for their cars) and a stunning accessory section, should they need respite from their incredibly difficult work of salvation. Woolworths is their flagship, so to speak, which makes perfect sense to no one, considering it purchases less than 1% of its product from Israel.
The BDS even offer an “Extreme Makeover” to the anti Israel “Protestors” that they bus from the poverty stricken Orange Farm by giving them t-shirts to wear so as to prevent anyone from seeing what it is that the indigent and those in real need of assistance actually look like.
The irony in this whole unfortunate situation is that the gym manager is not Jewish and yet it is already the Jewish community and Zionists who the media will blame. I happen not give a continental what Desai wears (as long as its not lycra) and am surprised that anyone else did. What does concern me is the amount of publicity that he has achieved through this little publicity stunt.
It must be a real comfort to the Palestinians who no doubt rely heavily on the BDS in Houghton to fight their cause. No doubt they will sleep so much easier in Gaza knowing that a new range of clothing has been launched in their honour.