A leader of the South African Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel justified calls to "shoot the Jew" during a protest last Wednesday against a concert by an Israeli musician.

Protesters, who gathered at Wits University in Johannesburg last Wednesday in opposition to a performance by jazz saxophonist Daniel Zamir, screamed at concertgoers slogans such as "Israel is apartheid" and "down, down Israel." Some also threw paper at the Jewish attendees.

Despite condemnations by both University Vice-Chancellor Adam Habib and the South African Jewish Board of Deputies, BDS coordinator Muhammed Desai defended the call to shoot Jews and told a student newspaper that the word Jews was not meant in a literal fashion.

The call to kill Jews was “just like you would say kill the Boer at [a] funeral during the eighties [and]  it wasn’t about killing white people, it was used as a way of identifying with the apartheid regime," Desai told the Wits Vuvuzela.

"What this incident unmistakeably shows is that BDS-SA’s real agenda is not to stand up for the Palestinian cause but to incite hatred, and possibly even violence, against Jewish South Africans,” SAJBD National Chairman Mary Kluk said in a statement.

In a statement sent to the Post on Monday, Professor Farid Esack, writing on behalf of the board of BDS South Africa, expressed his opposition to "any and all incitement to violence and racism – including anti-Semitism and Zionism- even if it were to come from within our ranks."

It is "unfortunate but not unexpected that supporters of Israel will focus on the singing of this song," Esack wrote, noting the "purpose and context" of the protest "were and remain the larger struggle against Israeli apartheid, Israel's illegal Occupation and its violation of Palestinian rights."

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