Wednesday, February 11, 2015

The Train Has No Brakes

It's been a while since we last checked in on the state of Jews in South Africa. We've seen government officials pull out of an event hosted by the country's umbrella Jewish organization ("Celebrating 20 years of South Africa’s Freedom"), because the BDS movement does not target Jews. We saw another official call for "eye for an eye" retaliation against the Jewish community for deaths in Gaza, because the BDS movement does not target Jews. We saw yet another ANC official not even receive a reprimand for telling Facebook that "Hitler was right", because the BDS movement does not target Jews. And of course, there was the top COSATU official who was sanctioned by the South African Human Rights Commission for hate speech after he said he wished to "convey a message to the Jews in South Africa" and threatening them that it "will be hell", because the BDS movement does not target Jews.

And so it is today that we get another entry it what is becoming an increasingly dangerous pattern: the Student Representative Council at the Durban University of Technology, supported by the Progressive Youth Alliance, has submitted a demand that the University expel all of its Jewish students. Mqondisi Duma, Secretary of the Student Representative Council, was quite blunt: "As the SRC, we had a meeting and analysed international politics. We took the decision that Jewish students, especially those who do not support the Palestinian struggle, should deregister." Because the BDS movement does, in fact, target Jews.

There will be no calls to boycott DUT (and there shouldn't be; the University administration has made clear that the demands are "totally unacceptable"). There will be no resolutions in solidarity with the Jewish students targeted for expulsion. There will be no recognition of this as part of a pattern. There most certainly will be someone who complains that the Council is being unfairly maligned; it only wished to criticize Israel.

The train has no brakes. People climb aboard at their (which is to say, our) peril.

UPDATE: If you think you want to see the DUT student council's "apology," trust me, you don't (though I do wonder whether Fatima Hajaig ghost-wrote it). As in most of these "apologi[es] without reservation", there are quite a few reservations, and the amount of time reflecting on how they came to call for the expulsion of Jews qua Jews is nil (the time they spend reiterating their support for the global BDS movement is quite a bit more than nil). "Our campuses will not be breeding grounds for Apartheid" -- some might say "too late."

1 comment:

Rebecca said...

It's interesting that I only read these stories about Jews in South Africa in Jewish or Israeli publications (or on blogs). What is going on in Europe is much better publicized (for example in France), but it appears to me, from these stories, that Jews in South Africa are actually much more endangered. No one in France is calling for Jewish students to be expelled from university!