Chaos broke out when a group of anti-Israeli protesters tried to block art lovers from gaining entry to the FotoZA Gallery in Rosebank to witness the launch of a pro-Israel art exhibition at the Rosebank Mall, Rosebank Killarney Gazette reports.
Known as the #YallaYebo Photo Exhibition and organised by the South African Friends of Israel and the Embassy of Israel in South Africa on 31 May, a group of about two dozen protesters allegedly hurled abuse and blocked art lovers wanting to gain entry into the exhibition space.
They waved flags of the Hezbollah movement, apparently confronting patrons wishing to access the venue. Despite being persuaded by police and mall security to leave the venue, the picketers are said to have become aggressive and confrontational and vowed to stay put.
Israeli ambassador Lior Keinan and deputy ambassador Ayellet Black described the exhibition as an important event that was creating “a cultural space where people can be afforded the opportunity to experience a different side” of both countries – Israel and Palestine – enabling what they alluded to as “a neutral platform for dialogue and engagement”.
The event was the culmination of an artist exchange programme between South Africa and Israel, which took place in October last year. The concept of the exhibition was to showcase the beauty, diversity and similarities of South Africa and Israel, through the artist’s eyes and experiences.
Two Israeli Instagrammers came to South Africa to photo-document the country’s diverse cultures and landscapes, and in turn, two South African Instagrammers went to Israel, mirroring this project.
Ben Swartz, co-chairperson of SA Friends of Israel, described the exhibition as a success, and said it went ahead without any glitches. It ran from 31 May and ended on 10 June, and was attended by various people, including a number of journalists.