It was both predictable and inevitable that this year’s Israel Apartheid Week (IAW) would result in incidences of antisemitism. The Piazza at the Wits University Campus was divided into two separate areas to allow space to both pro-Israel under the banner of SA Union of Jewish Students (SAUJS) and the BDS movement under the banner of the Palestinian Solidarity Committee (PSC) to present their views. Throughout the week, however, supporters of Israel were subjected to antisemitic actions and rhetoric, including:
· A PSC member saying that he wanted to kill Jews because they don’t behave when they are in other people’s countries: https://twitter.com/SAJBD/status/840108772706017280
· A PSC member impersonating a Nazi imitating Hitler, goose-stepping, and making Nazi-style salutes: https://twitter.com/SAJBD/status/840108798211633152
· A PSC member saying that Israelis should be killed
All this was in addition to the typical BDS tactics of sabotage, intimidation and attempts at silencing any alternate views which were clearly in evidence throughout the week. The PSC cut the sound system while Yahya Mahamed, an Arab-Israeli student was talking. They also attempted to shout him down and made threatening movements towards him, leading to police stepping in to restrain the PSC members involved. PSC members also tore down SAUJS posters and violently threatened pro-Israel supporters, resulting in campus security having to form a physical barrier between the groups.
The SAJBD notes that the supporters of IAW and the BDS movement have gone to great lengths to depict their campaigns as having nothing to do with antisemitism but as being entirely aimed at criticising Israel. Indeed, they have labelled accusations that BDS activity results in antisemitism as being a “Zionist ploy” to stifle criticism of Israel. Clearly, the “lady doth protest too much”. While they absolve themselves from any antisemitic incidences that occur, it is the aggressive, inflammatory and intolerant nature of their campaigns that fosters the environment in which antisemitism flourishes. The evidence speaks for itself.
The SAJBD commends SAUJS and all the supporters of Israel, who, in spite of the hostile environment in which they continued to operate, conducted themselves with dignity and restraint. Their campaign was based on peace, engagement and dialogue, and they did not allow the thuggish tactics of the other side to divert them from these aims. The SAJBD, once again, calls on all South African’s to distance themselves from the BDS campaign that continues to associate itself with racist rhetoric in this country.
For more information please contact Wendy Kahn on 082 444 3675
Issued by Wendy Kahn