Howard Feldman

The Pig in The Produce

I might be accused of seeing the glass half full. It might be said that I look for hope and reconciliation under every burka. But it’s simply not true. This one is staring us in the face and we might be too caught up in it to notice. The recent Pig in the produce incident is one that we might very take comfort from. The fact that COSAS (Congress of South African Students) placed a pig’s head in the Halal section of a local store, and the local Muslim community didn’t burn down Table Mountain has to be seen as progress. The fact that they did so thinking it was the kosher section and carried out the act in protest of Woolworths buying 0.1% of its product from Israel must be beside the point.

I well remember when some Scandinavian cartoonist depicted the Prophet in a drawing that was deemed offensive, and when Salman Rushdie took to the hills for a lot less a crime. In my view he should have been chased a lot earlier, saving us from reading the obscure and bizarre head scratching stuff he produced (if you will excuse the expression), but I am certain that his banishment had little to do with style and more to do with content. But that was then and this is now. Radical Islam has come a long way and its not like a severed head offends on any level. That must be progress.

So I scoured the press, just to be sure. And not a Muslim person objected to pig in the produce. Not one. No outrage. No offense. It seems it was an honest to God mistake, and as we all know these things happen. Kids will be kids. And so the Muslim community remained silent. Eerily silent. Not a squeak, as it were.

The BDS thought it was in poor taste, preferring to intimidate and scare shoppers by lying on the floor pretending to be dead and abusing people as they walk through the door. They distanced themselves from this and left poor COSAS out in the cold (section).

Woolworths’ approach needs to be commended. They have refused to be intimidated by the targeting of their stores. Given the fact that in all likelihood purchase a lot less from Israel than other South African stores and are clearly the target of a vicious and absurd campaign, and given the fact they trade in compliance with all South African trade laws gives them the moral high ground. They have avoided taking action against the protesters and the pig produce people until now but have been left with little option considering the escalation of the futile actions. Shoppers continue to flow in Woolworths and support their stores with little or no impact on their bottom line. It was my wife who pointed out, when viewing a photo of the “dead shoppers” on the floor, that the sign in background says that they have sandals on sale. “And they are gorgeous”. Clearly we are focusing on the wrong thing.

And then, late yesterday, in a statement that only could be described as having been beamed to us from another dimension, COSAS announced that it would intensify its pig campaign. In fact they claim (I think, because it is virtually impossible to understand), that a Jew has sponsored the next 10 pigs. They insist (I think) that they are “Not clowns” but offered very little proof in this regard.

We live in a world of hypocrisy. A place where what is good for the goose is certainly not good for the gander. Where we find ways to ignore parallels and comparative scenarios and where we manipulate and intellectualize according to our motives and our agendas. This latest incident just highlights that which we already know. It is not about Woolworths support of Israel. It is not about a pig. It is not even about Israel. It is about a raw hatred for Jews. And, if anyone else is potentially insulted along the way, well that is simply the cost of doing business.

About the Author
Howard Feldman is a lawyer, a physical commodity trader by industry and a writer by obsession. He is very active in the Jewish community and passionate about our world.
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