S. Africans won't unload Israeli goods

Dock workers acting in solidarity with Palestinians; country's chief rabbi calls move "outrageous."

cargo shipping boat 88 (photo credit: )
cargo shipping boat 88
(photo credit: )
The South African Transport and Allied Workers Union declared on Wednesday it will boycott all Israeli goods coming into the country's ports, drawing accusations of "unfair targeting" and "ignorance" from the local Jewish community and the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem. Randall Howard, general secretary of the union, said dock workers won't unload ships carrying goods from Israel as an act of solidarity with the Palestinians. "The historic and heroic struggle of the Palestinian people for self-determination... is a struggle that SATAWU supports," Howard said. "If it's an Israeli product, we're going to boycott it, plain and simple." Last year, South African dock and freight workers refused to unload a ship carrying weapons for Zimbabwe, to protest President Robert Mugabe's rule. In the case of Israeli goods, Howard said, it did not matter whether they were weapons or vegetables. "Their behavior is outrageous, immoral and despicable," South Africa Chief Rabbi Dr. Warren Goldstein said. "It's unfair targeting of the Jewish state," he said. "The irony is that there isn't a single state in the Middle East that gives rights to trade unions except Israel. What about their solidarity with workers around the world? Why do they off-load ships from China, North Korea and all the Middle East?" The local Jewish community would "stand in support of Israel," Goldstein promised. An Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman said the union's action was "very sad. The union doesn't have the faintest idea about the situation in the Middle East. It's taking a step that harms Israelis and Palestinians alike. Part of the exports on Israeli ships are Palestinian exports." The spokesman called on South Africa's leadership to intervene. "This is not the behavior one expects in an organized, respectable country. What do they expect to convince us of? This situation is a test for South Africa's leadership."