I am an Old-Edwardian, having gone to school at King Edward VII school in Johannesburg for 11 years, from 1933 to 1943.
It was a school rife with anti-semitism and I was at the school during the period when Hitler was trying to kill off the whole of the European Jewish community.
Here we have some zionists at Old-Eds doing the reverse because they support Israel's anti-apartheid activities as they try a different sor of genocide against the Palestinians.
As a Jew who is anti-zionist and disgusted with Israeli actions in Palestine, which they are stealing bit by bit from the Palestinians, I think the actions of South African zionists is as despicable as those of the zionists around the world, including the Jewish zionists and Christian zionists in all the western countries.
Gym defends action in T-shirt row
Instead, he said he would force his way into the gym if he weren’t allowed in, Virgin Active said on Thursday.
It was defending its decision to remove Desai from its gym for wearing the branded T-shirt.
Virgin Active faced a backlash from its members on Wednesday night when police removed Desai from its Old Eds branch, which has a large Jewish membership.
Desai is a member of the South African chapter of lobby group BDS, which seeks sanctions against Israel.
He has given the gym an ultimatum that if it does not affirm his right to wear the T-shirts, it will find itself before the Human Rights Commission and Equality Court.
He said he had a three-year Virgin Active membership and when attending gym, he would wear T-shirts of various organisations and campaigns.
However, on Wednesday morning, Desai received calls from the branch manager of Old Eds Virgin Active and the regional manager telling him they had received complaints from pro-Israeli supporters about his shirts.
“The managers said I would not be allowed to enter the gym as long as I wore a BDS T-shirt with pro-Palestinian messaging, or one calling for a boycott of Israel,” said Desai.
He requested copies of the complaints, but they were not provided. He also requested the relevant policies and a letter outlining the reasons for the decision. After not receiving a response, Desai went to the gym in the evening wearing his BDS/YCL Chris Hani T-shirt.
The T-shirt is emblazoned with the words: “From the coast of Cape Town to the coast of Gaza in solidarity with Palestinians against Israeli apartheid.”
According to Desai, the police responded that if he was assaulted they would arrest those responsible.
In a video released on YouTube, it appears Desai deliberately wore the T-shirt after the warnings and had a camera on standby to record the incident.
In the video, he says the manager refused to give him, in writing, the rules stating that political or social justice T-shirts weren’t allowed, and called the police.
“I am a paid-up member and have the right to be here and to have access to the gym facilities. It is those with problems against human rights who are offended,” he said.
Virgin Active spokeswoman Les Aupiais said the goal was for its health clubs to be neutral spaces in which members could pursue their health and wellness goals while accommodating the rights and freedoms of all members.
The gym “wasn’t in the business of restricting speech or policing personal behaviour unless it contravenes the club rules, the law, or carries some kind of threat to the safety of staff and members”.
“In all instances we seek a negotiated solution to any perceived conflict. When he appeared at the club, clearly intent on making a political statement and generating confrontation, management was concerned about the potential consequences and called on the police to intervene. This is a situation we have never encountered before, and we’ve learnt valuable lessons.”
She said Virgin Active didn’t believe its clubs should be forums for contentious political activity.
“Mr Desai has not been banned and is welcome to return to train as a member as long as he respects the conditions of membership.
“We have sought an urgent personal meeting with Mr Desai to discuss our position. Any member who made provable threats on our premises of physical violence against Mr Desai, or any member on any occasion, will have their membership reviewed and possibly terminated,” Aupiais added.
The Star and The Mercury