Jewish students at Stellenbosch have expressed concern about movements on campuses that they perceive as being anti-Semitic.
“Movements like Israel Apartheid Week (IAW) fuel anti-Semitism to a certain extent. People are now able to hide their anti-Semitism behind the mask of anti-Zionism,” said Saul Maserow (22), a Jewish accounting student at Stellenbosch University.
Maserow is not alone in his criticism of the campaign after anti-Semitic acts committed on the Wits University campus surfaced during IAW earlier in March.
Phrases such as “Kill a Jew” were spray painted on Wits university property. Another student was filmed on 9 March performing a goose-step and Nazi strong-arm salute on the Wits campus which has deep holocaust, anti-Semitic roots. A second video shows a student proclaiming that Jews should be killed because they do not know “how to behave in other people’s countries”.
IAW was also hosted at Stellenbosch University by BDS (Boycott Divestment Sanctions). Events included a public seminar with Minister of Water and Sanitation, Nomvula Mokonyane, on 8 March.
According to the BDS Stellenbosch co-ordinator, Bradley Frolick (21), things did not run as smoothly as planned. Tensions rose when an attendee, a woman who identified herself as an Israeli national, continued to disrupt proceedings.
Critics of IAW and BDS include the South African Union of Jewish Students and the SA Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD).
SAJBD’s Wendy Kahn told the Saturday Star: “While they absolve themselves from any anti-Semitic incidents that occur, it is the aggressive, inflammatory and intolerant nature of their campaigns that foster the environment in which anti-Semitism flourishes. The evidence speaks for itself.”
Frolick disagrees: “Neither I nor BDS condone anti-Semitism. People want to make it seem like a Jewish versus Islamic conflict, which it is not. BDS is against injustice, and that is precisely what anti-Semitism is”. BDS released a press statement condemning the “anti-Semitism and buffoonery at Wits University” on 11 March.
BDS, an Anti-Zionist organisation that facilitates campaigns such as IAW, aims to raise awareness of Israel’s “apartheid policies” towards the Palestinians.
IAW is held in 250 countries.
Zionism refers to the ethno-nationalist and political movement of Jews that supports the occupation of historically defined territory of Israel (including Palestinian territory) and entails discrimination against Palestinians.