Jewish Students and the leaders

Arguably the most traumatic academic year in the history of higher education in this country is drawing to a close, with students around the country – how many, at this stage is uncertain - preparing to sit their exams. I wish all our Jewish students, as well as all other students who will be writing under less than ideal circumstances, success.  

The SA Union of Jewish Students – SAUJS – performs a crucial role in representing the Jewish student body on key university campuses and wherever necessary working with the respective administrations and the SAJBD in addressing problems that arise. I congratulate incoming SAUJS national chairman Gabi Zollman and his committee on their recent election and look forward to working with them in the coming year. I further congratulate and thank immediate past SAUJS chairperson Dani Hovsha for all her outstanding work, including the valuable input she has made at SAJBD Gauteng Council and National Executive Committee meetings.

In addition to broader safety and security challenges, one of the major concerns we have had, has been the potential for the racially-charged rhetoric of the FeesMustFall movement spilling over into overt antisemitism. To an extent, this has occurred on occasion, most recently with the plastering of antisemitic graffiti at Wits earlier this week. We have been in communication with the Wits administration to ensure that the graffiti was removed and steps taken to find the perpetrators and prosecute them. In a press statement, we condemned the racist invective that had often surfaced during the FeesMustFall protests and urged that legitimate causes such as this one not be sullied by hateful rhetoric against other South Africans.

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Durban Jewish Exhibition

Since its initial conceptualisation in 1919, the historic Durban Jewish Club has been not only the centre of Jewish communal life in Durban, but a frequently used public space for the broader society. The building itself, "surrounded by bush, rippling dunes of corrugated white sand mingled with ochre earth", was officially opened on 4 May 1931. Since then, it has been host to generations of people, with a history that has witnessed wars and political unrest, conferences and public meetings and music and theatre performances. 

Sara Gon compares the experience of Penny Sparrow with that of Bongani Masuku

“COSATU has got members here even on this campus; we can make sure that for that side it will be hell”

“COSATU is with you, we will do everything to make sure that whether its at Wits University, whether its at Orange Grove, anyone who does not support equality and dignity, who does not support the rights of other people must face the consequences even if it means that we will do something that may necessarily cause what is regarded as harm…”

The Bongani Masuku Judgement - Implications for South African Law

Determining where the boundary lies between legitimate freedom of expression and prohibited ‘hate speech’ can never be an exact science. During the flurry of debate that took place around the controversial Prevention and Combating of Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill earlier this year, this was something that came through especially strongly. Err too much on one side, and victims of genuinely hurtful and insulting verbal abuse are left without a remedy; err too much on the other, and a fundamental pillar of democracy is undermined.