It’s mortifying. That feeling you get when you invite your all your friends to your party and hardly anyone shows up. It’s so embarrassing when you tell, like everyone, that 40,000 people are going to be at your event and that records are going to be smashed and then like no ones arrives? That was the story of the BDS protest outside the Pharrel Williams concert.
All that work! The invites, the court orders allowing 40,000 of your nearest and dearest to attend, the media and press the statements. And then it turns out to be a pretty slow afternoon in Cape Town with estimates of protesters ranging from 500 -800 people, many of whom were hungry journalists and many of whom were bussed in (free T-shirts and all) and would have had no idea why they were there. If any records were broken it was that this little event was the biggest fizzle flop of 2015.
To put it in perspective, I am pretty sure we had more people for dinner second night Rosh-Hashana than attended the rally. Only no one live tweeted as our guests arrive and no one wore scarves. One actually feels a bit bad.
This is the story. Woolworths is a national chain store in South Africa. It is known for its high standards and service, and amongst other departments, specialises in wholesome high quality food products. And it buys 0.1% of its produce from Israel. Needless to say BDS has targeted them with a hatred and poison. The have held protest outside, encouraged boycotts, staged die-ins and condoned the placing of pig’s heads in what was meant to be the kosher section (but in fact turned out to be the Halal), another red-faced moment for BDS. Their latest escapade was to protest outside a Pharrel Williams concert in Cape Town, Williams being a brand ambassador for Woolworths.
Woolworths is a socially responsible company. It supports transformation in South Africa and actively raises money for education. It employs around 30,000 people and pays over a Billion Rand in taxes. Given that in South Africa each person employed supports close to 10 people, they contribute significantly to the country’s welfare. Woolworths also follows the South African law by trading with Israeli companies. They have been targeted by BDS unfairly and the amazing thing is that the people of South Africa are sick of their antics. And they showed that by not showing up.
As much as the press tried, they could not muster the support of their readers, with social media lambasting the BDS and their selfish blinkered view. They pointed out that South Africa is a country in crises and Africa is a continent on fire and that the Middle East is churning out orphans daily. They pointed out that South Africa has just stopped six million dollars en route to Isis and that the local press hardly acknowledged it, because by focusing on Israeli avocados, all else becomes peripheral.
Those who did arrive, sported Hezbollah flags and freshly minted T shirts printed for the occasion. The played music and they tried to spin the failure as success. But it wasn’t. At least not for BDS South Africa. It was a spectacular failure and they would do well to heed the voice of the South African people who are done with their charade. That said, it was their party, so they cry if they want to.