Pigs’ heads in Woolies: Cosas’s piss-poor shock tactics

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* This story has been updated.

Are you ready for your Friday facepalm? The ANC-affiliated Congress of South African Students (Cosas) has decided that a good way to show support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which aims to put pressure on Israel to change its policies concerning Palestine through economic means, would be to put pigs heads in the kosher and halaal sections of the nearest Woolworths.

On Friday pictures of the incident were tweeted from the @ANC_BRANCH twitter account.

The first tweets on the topic mentioned only the kosher sections of the Woolworths stores, raising questions about whether the campaign may be anti-semitic in nature, but it later emerged that Cosas was targeting both kosher and halaal food sections.

Some tweets on the issue were retweeted from the BDS South Africa account without comment. These have since been deleted.

It’s unclear exactly how Cosas came to the conclusion that putting a pig’s head in the kosher or halaal section of a food market would be an effective way to show support for Palestinians. It’s also unclear why BDS South Africa would seemingly endorse the clearly offensive tactic with unqualified retweets.

The shocking decision to drag pigs heads into kosher sections at Woolworths is an affront to Jewish religious laws, which state that Jewish followers may not consume pig meat. Similarly, Muslims are not allowed to eat pork products and pigs are viewed as unclean.

A Woolworths representative confirmed that the incident had occurred but clarified that while some of the tweets allege that the pig’s head was placed in the kosher section of the store, the area depicted in the tweets is in fact the halaal food section.

In a statement released on Friday afternoon, Cosas said, “It is unacceptable that people, especially those who claim to believe in God to buy products from supporters of Israel. We will not allow people who will not eat pork, to pretend that they are eating clean meat, when it is sold by hands dripping with the blood of Palestinian children. Woolworths is NOT Kosher. We cannot allow food like this to be called halaal or Kosher, it is dirty food – the dirtiest food. We have placed the pigs head in Woolworths to show these people of God that Woolworths is Haraam and it is not Kosher.”

The student organisation’s motto is “Each One Teach One”, but its inflammatory action against Jewish and Muslim citizens this week may leave Cosas needing to re-think its position.

The BDS movement embarked on a much-publicised boycott of Woolworths following Israel’s bombardment of Gaza earlier this year, and has called for Israeli produce to be removed from shelves. The campaign has since grown with support from notable politicians, including EFF leader Julius Malema.

The movement was criticised when pro-Palestinian protestors shouted “Shoot the Jew” at a BDS rally last year and has worked to distance itself from accusations of anti-semitism.

In a statement released Friday, BDS South Africa said it had not “supported, endorsed or encouraged” the action, which it described as “very controversial … form of militant human rights action” that “may not have been properly thought through”.

“We do not believe that taking pigs heads to Woolworths is correct; we also do not believe that Woolworths supporting Israeli Apartheid is correct. We will try our best to discourage both,” it said.

BDS South Africa said it hoped the incident would not be used as a distraction from its #BoycottWoolworths campaign.

If there’s a silver lining to this cloud, it’s that Cosas may have helped to bring supporters of Israel and Palestine together – in condemnation of their pig-headed tactics that is.

*Correction: An earlier version of this story implied that Cosas’s actions were aimed at the Jewish community alone, rather than at both Muslim and Jewish communities. This has now been updated to indicate that Cosas is an equal opportunity offender.

35 COMMENTS

    • The actions of “civilized” man, his total disregard for the rights of ALL and continuously interfering in matters unrelated as well as in his area of “expertize” never ceade to amaze me…

  1. This article is gross misinformation, get the facts straight.
    The pig’s hard was placed in both HALAAL and kosher sections of woolworths. Also, BDS released a statement that it did not endorse, support or encourage this action.

    The retweet may have been for informative purposes, ever think of that?

      • It would have taken one tweet to distance oneself from the actions of Cosas – one tweet that could have accompanied the retweets of the original picture, as well as BDS’s retweets of the ZanuPF calls for others to do the same.

        Social media fail, BDS.

        • Not a fail for BDS. Please let us not forget that the actions of those opposed to Israeli Apartheid may go very awry, but the principle to which they respond is good. This should not be an opportunity to hit the BDS – because that is an act ONLY in favour of racist Zionism. Perspective please! BDS did well. It is growing and learning and racist Israel will be slowly exposed for what it is – a despotic neocolonial state having the backing of the oil importing rich nations to have a strike capability over Arab lands.

          • Wow, Miles, what a budding strategist you are. What’s closer to the truth is that Israel is the least racist state in all of the Middle East, and calling it an “apartheid” state, is profecating (new word, for professing shitty ideologies) jew-hatred ultimately aimed at delegitimising the state of Israel as Jewish state. BDS did not need this to be branded a fail”.

  2. The author is misinformed and should get the facts straight before blowing this out of proportion.

    Before singing anti semitism, the pig’s head was placed in both HALAAL and Kosher sections of Woolworths.
    If you notice the picture’s caption it says “Woolworths, not Halaal, not Kosher” as well.

    BDS has released a statement that it did not endorse, support or encourage this action. So is it not perhaps a possibility that the retweet may have been for informative purposes?

      • Outrage justified, undoubtedly. Religious histrionics.. Na uh. Irresponsible.. It sounded more like a rant than anything else. Not to mention the exclusion of the tiny detail that it wasn’t solely targeted at the Jewish community could have serious repercussions.

  3. Daily Vox should be under no obligation to get comment from BDS. BDS was not holding pieces of dead pig above kosher and halaal food. BDS is not the subject of this story, and even if it is BDS can respond by statement, or letter, like it did. However, if you want to pass comment, and if your Twitter account sends out RTs of Cosas dangling dead pig pieces over specifically separated food without condemning them, you make sure you have someone to answer the phone immediately if you want to be included.

    Putting pigs’ heads in kosher and halaal sections is disgusting. Putting them in just the kosher or halaal sections is disgusting. And if your first few tweets are that you’re putting them in the kosher section, be prepared for some confusion about whether you put them in the halaal section, especially over an issue that is so full of preconceived ideas and when especially when you are putting dead pigs on things. That all being said, having it in both sections is an extreme differentiator from having it merely in the kosher one.

    • you are absolutely right Simon. The story was not about BDS, and there was no obligation to contact them for comment. They flung themselves on the wrong end by being alive on twitter, pushing the content out but then not being on hand to provide answers. On the issue of kosher vs halaal or kosher and halaal section: most muslims would refuse the meat in Woolies if they saw a picture of a pig in the sweets aisle 😉

  4. Pathetic. Students? Of what? The future leaders of this country? We are in deep trouble. Cosas/cosatu are idiots that do not deserve any attention.

  5. So sad that our people are so dumb!!!

    ”Congress of South African Students”…. is this really the way our future leaders are going to resolve problems like this in future???

  6. Israel is at the forefront of HIV research and treatment, and also has an ebola vaccine ready for mass production (maybe already in production). BDS, COSAS, and any other uneducated anti semitic hatemongers, why not leave woolies alone and promote a boycott if Israels medical companies?

    • Why not issue compulsory licenses for these products and copy them for the benefit of humanity instead of paying royalties to fund Apartheid? Oh I forget, the rich world prevented Africans from getting cheaper HIV medicines (even though they had LEGAL rights to do so)… Yes, products must be copied, Israel must be denied all intellectual property rights protection, because of its racism. Reverse engineering and production facility funds should be priorities for BDS immediately.

    • Nazi Germany was also at the forefront of science, industry and medicine. Apartheid South Africa had its share too.

      Do you really think that gives them the right to keep a nation subordinated and isolated, to bomb indiscriminately whenever the fancy takes them, to keep building more and more illegal settlements on Palestine soil? And do you really think that I’m antisemitic for thinking these things aren’t cool? Get real man. Nobody likes an asshole, and Israel is being an asshole.

  7. It’s disingenuous to claim that they are an equal opportunity offender. It’s clearly action designed to intimidate Jews. Targeting Halaal is just part of the campaign to send a message to Muslims that they need to abide by the boycott that is designed by BDS – a group with an overwhelming Muslim majority in terms of leadership and supporters.

    To be sure, it is intimidating to those Muslims who reject the boycott of Israel and wish to buy from Woolworths. But its not equal opportunity. These actions are farm more about preventing people “with the bloof of Palestinians” from eating Kosher/Halaal. If you ask COSAS who has the blood of Palestinians on their hands they might say Zionists. Zionists are mainly Jews and hence this is an attack “mainly” on Jews executed against all Jews by targetting their religious beliefs.

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