Open letter to Pharrell Williams from Cosas, regarding collaboration with Woolworths

Dear Mr Pharrell Williams, you have received, including from us (the largest South African school learner organisation), numerous complaints against your collaboration with Woolworths – a company arrogantly trading with Apartheid Israel, a regime that kills Palestinian children.

Being in business doesn’t mean or give you reason to be heartless, and to support killers for the sake of having money in your pocket.

Woolworths is an Apartheid Israel supporter. By trading with Apartheid Israel, Woolworths is raising their capital so that Apartheid Israel can continue to buy weapons of mass destruction to threaten, harass and kill even more Palestinians, including many Palestinian children, every day. 

We have been asking you to be on the right side of history and join an increasing chorus of international artists who support the Palestinian fight against Israeli injustice and oppression. Yet, you unethically decided to come to South Africa as a guest of the Israeli-supporting company Woolworths – knowing how angry South Africans are at your complicity through Woolworths in the erasure of Palestinian human rights and dignity.

Your immoral collaboration with Woolworths is supposed to raise funds for education in South Africa. Let us ask you a question: if your aim was really to raise money for our youth's education – and not only to advertise Woolworths brand and get millions for that – why didn’t you choose to meet, engage, respond or work with COSAS?

COSAS is the biggest student organisation in South Africa that represents poor students, and speaks for them in times of need like now. There are also many other student organisations that really make a difference and that you could have collaborated with instead of Woolworths, who is crawling to clean its image with this “Are You With Us” campaign.

As an international pop artist, you had been the role model for many youngsters here in South Africa. But now, this image is in radical contradiction with your behaviour. 

For the reasons stated above, our organisation supports the #BoycottWoolworths campaign and upcoming #PharrellProtest. It's ironic that you and Woolworths will be claiming to support South African children and yet we – the largest school learner organisation in this country – will be outside protesting against you and your Woolworths. Let us be clear: the life of Palestinian children and the life of South African children are equally important to us. 

Picture Credit: 1africa.tv

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