BDS on the back foot after ironic IAW
“I would be so bold as to say that our ‘Give Peace Wings’ campaign has been the most successful campaign SAUJS have run in years!” So says the SA Union of Jewish Students’ second-term chair Ariela Carno of the community’s anti-IAW efforts last week.
Not only was Israel Apartheid Week allowed to operate largely unopposed in previous years, but “this is the first time we have fought back,” says Likud-SA chair Leon Reich, who had led the communal intervention “after the hateful activities at Rhodes during IAW last year,” he says.
“I was determined to take Rhodes to task and to end this scurrilous annual attack on Israel and young SA Jewry throughout SA.”
Sarah Tazazo, left, and Kokit Hylo, two of SAUJS’ secret weapons – Israeli students specially trained with all the skills they required to take on IAW in SA
SAUJS and the communal organisations behind them can really take a bow. “I think we did a great job,” Carno told the Jewish Report. “We met our primary aims,” of ensuring that Jewish students were able to feel comfortable on campuses and to engage other students about the realities of Israel. “We found on all campuses that students came away with a different understanding.”
SAUJS’ visibility and tents containing a myriad of displays about “the real Israel” at Wits and UCT were conspicuously imposing.
Benji Shulman worked tirelessly
Carno says that the Board and Fed were very helpful to the students. “I must single out (Fed director) Benji Shulman,” she says, who worked tirelessly both before and during IAW to support SAUJS’ efforts. “Mark Hyman and the MDA were also very helpful in funding and support.”
One of SAUJS’ trump cards was the delegation of Israeli (mostly of Ethiopian descent) students. They were all experienced IDF officers, experienced at dealing with heated situations and specifically trained in Israel on the South African political landscape. They were invaluable, as were other resources like activist Laurence Seeff who was brought out by the Fed and Likud.
Ariela Carno is proud of the “good general collaboration” of the SAUJS teams. She says there was “no physical violence – but there were unacceptable comments and media that breached the rules” that Wits and UCT had established. SAUJS intends to lodge complaints at both campuses.
By Wednesday, the anti-Israel lobbyists realised they were up against it and bussed in help to Wits and UCT, which became a “hot-spot” for two days. But, despite becoming heated and verbally offensive on the two big campuses, both had made all parties sign disciplinary agreements before granting permission for the events.
Ironic ending to exciting week
“It is actually quite ironic that Max Price (UCT VC) and Adam Habib (Wits VC) were the most supportive,” says Carno. She said neither Vice-Chancellor is known for their support of Israel, yet both ensured a level playing field.
And at Rhodes, where much of the trouble started last year, the anti-Israel lobby found themselves choked of all funding and only managed to hold a single event, a book signing attended by about 30 people. “Rhodes was very good,” says Carno, we were the only people who had a presence there.” SAUJS’ Cape chair even managed to get BDS posters removed and SAUJS’ posters put up!