Yesterday, UJ students experienced at first hand the bullying, intolerant tactics of the BDS movement when a lecture by Palestinian human rights activist Bassim Eid had to be discontinued. Students wearing BDS and PSF tshirts barged into the venue and proceeded to interrupt the speaker, refusing to allow him to continue his address and calling him “a liar and a sell-out”. Audience members were intimidated and the speaker was threatened with a finger to his face, at which point he was evacuated by campus security.
The speaker was escorted to a waiting car with two of the BDS members following in an intimidatory and threatening manner. SA Union of Jewish (SAUJS) National Chairperson Natan Pollock said that he feared for their safety.
This was not the first time that BDS, determined that no dissenting voices on the Israel-Palestine issue other than its own be heard, has interfered with the right to freedom of expression of others. Similar thuggish displays have occurred on other university campuses, including Wits. The event was organized by the SA Union of Jewish Students as part of their programme to debate and find possible solutions to the Palestinian Israeli conflict. BDS, however, has no desire for civilised debate to take place on this question.
The actions by BDS supporters has no place in an academic environment dedicated to dialogue and the free exchange of ideas, nor does it have any place in South African society, where the values of academic freedom and freedom of expression are cherished and constitutionally protected. It is especially telling that BDS disrupted a speech by a Palestinian human rights activist that was sharing his experiences and thoughts for peace, making it evident that peace is less on their agenda than is forcing others to abide by their intolerant agenda.
BDS’s Israel Apartheid Week campaign is nothing more than an excuse to exercise hate. This is the latest in a long string of antisemitic incidents that have occurred over the years during “Israel Apartheid Week
The SAJBD and SAUJS unequivocally condemn this violent display of intolerance and call on the University of Johannesburg to respond decisively to these acts of thuggery in the same manner that Wits and DUT have responded to issues of this nature in the past. A meeting with the University will be held shortly to discuss this incident.
On Wednesday, 25 February 2015, representatives of the South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) met with the Young Communist League’s (YCL’s) National Chairperson, Yeshan Pillay. The meeting was at the request of the SAJBD and represented a first step towards improved relations between the SAJBD and the YCL.
Several issues were discussed during the meeting, including finding common culture and nationhood, the Palestinian and Israeli conflict, social cohesion, entrepreneurship, job creation and the role of the youth in building South Africa. In discussing the Palestinian-Israeli situation, Mr Pillay shared his views that from a class perspective the YCL supports Palestinian Statehood and SAJBD National Director Wendy Kahn spoke of the SAJBD’s ongoing commitment to the creation of a two-state solution, with a viable Palestinian State living side by side an Israeli State with secure borders. Both parties regretted the polarisation that this issue was causing in South African society and expressed the need to create forums for dialogue to find commonalities on issues important to us as South Africans.
Concern was expressed by Mr Pillay that while differing views were important, tolerance was unfortunately slipping away in our country and that it was essential to address contentious issues without excluding or targeting individuals and communities with differing views.
In finding a way to bridge the divide between different communities in South Africa the idea was discussed to bring diverse youth groups together on projects to find a common identity on matters of mutual concern, and a suggestion was made for an interfaith dialogue forum to bridge the divide between the young people. Both parties further decided that future engagements would be arranged between the SAJBD and YCL in the spirit of finding a common culture and in exploring joint projects to develop our country in areas such as entrepreneurship and job creation.
Leila Khalid is not a saint. She was and still is a terrorist. She wanted to turn hijacking into a hobby, but was prevented from doing so. I was present when she and her partner boarded a plane with guns and hand grenades. Depicting Leila Khalid as Mother Teresa is like awarding the Nobel Peace Prize to Osama Bin Laden. She sat in prison in the UK for only a day and a half, because a her “harmless” partners who were supposedly constantly seeking peace hijacked another flight, this time British Airways, to demand her release while threating the lives of the BA passengers.
As a young boy caught up in the hijacking, I was obviously frightened. Who wouldn’t be when you are a few thousand feet in the air and hear gun shots and screaming? You see one of the flight crew member wounded on the floor and the plane diving as part of the emergency procedure. You witness people older than you that are completely hysterical.
But the real issue is the hypocrisy of those who give a platform to people Leila Khalid, someone who explicitly supports all terrorist attacks wherever they may be. She appraises the terrorist way. Khalid laid the foundation for many other attacks that are even happening today under the slogan “if you are not with us then you have no right to exist, and we dare you to go or speak against us”. If not, why would she have been prepared to murder 138 passengers and 10 crew members on the flight that she hijacked? She is no different from those responsible for 9/11 or those who a month ago in France murdered 12 journalists working for Charlie Hebdo. Supporting Leila Khaled gives the legitimacy to organizations like ISIS, Boka Haram and to terrorist organisations in general.
The Jewish community protested the visit by convicted terrorist Leila Khaled outside a press conference being hosted for her by BDS. Protesters chanted, No to Terrorism. A message from Adam,who was on a plane that Khaled hijacked was read to the crowd. Mary Kluk noted that it was no coincidence that the day that Khaled spoke on campus, the SRC called for the de-registration of Jewish students.