Rhodes is hotbed of anti-Israel activity

  • Rhodes scene2
SAUJS, Jewish & Christian Zionist students & staff at Rhodes express concern over deteriorating situation at Rhodes where anti-Israeli resolution was rejected by the Senate last week. “Jewish students keep their heads down & don’t advertise their religious affiliation,” said SAUJS’ national chairman Ariela Carno this week. During Operation Protective Edge the campus once again became ground-zero for anti-Israeli activities. So much so, that who have spoken to SAJR have asked not to be named for fear of reprisals. SEE THE VIDEO of a supposed impartial debate on the Media and Gaza.
by ANT KATZ | Sep 10, 2014

The event, above, was billed as: "Featuring Professor Steven Friedman (Centre for the Study of Democracy - University of Johannesburg and Rhodes University), Dr Irene Calis (Palestinian scholar), Professor Anthony Collins (Media Studies) and student media representatives."

Last month Rhodes held a “supposedly neutral panel discussion” on the media reaction to Gaza (see the video on SAJR.CO.ZA), said Carno, and only one panellist was truly neutral. Media Studies Prof Anthony Collins went as far as suggesting the international community should disarm Israel. A Jewish student in the audience asked if this should apply to Hamas as well. No, came Collins’ reply.

One student told SAJR Online that “For what it's worth, I think they tried to keep it neutral, but the presence of (Prof Steven) Friedman made that impossible. And then, instead of asking the SAUJS rep to sit on the panel, they invited someone who was less informed.”

Some of the Gaza lectures turned into vigils, say students. “I was given a report of one lecture that turned into an anti-Israel propaganda event and snowballed from little to tgho hours of hate,” says Carno.

She says that the environment can be really uncomfortable. One student had complained of being “cornered several times” and asked: “How can you support the massacring of children.”

A Jewish staffer, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the campus had become increasingly frustrating and hateful. SA Jews are becoming synonymous with Israelis,” he said. “There are some people who separate the two, but most don’t. They show us pictures of dying children – which are usually from Syria.”

He said he has not bothered to take this up with the Rhodes management. “I would never go to the institution itself – it is so one-sided – the only way to do it is to fight individual battles. Rhodes have never done anything whatsoever despite their being aware of the prevailing situation,” he said.


Despite the rose-coloured glasses coming off for the handful of Jewish students, they are adamant that they intend to continue their studies at Rhodes and to fight back. “They have the moral support of Christian Zionists,” explained Ariela Carno, in their ongoing struggle against the Palestinian Solidarity Forum. “Despite the institutional hatred – they won’t give up on Rhodes,” she says.

The small pro-Israeli lobby have worked hard to start a society this year but have come up against hurdle after hurdle. “We need to start with a solid foundation, to offer education, people really don’t know what Israel goes through and we think they would like to,” says a Christian Zionist who did not want to be named. “We need to find a way to penetrate that bubble, we need to have a public, transparent, process – put up posters, issue information packets, facilitate proper and fair panel discussions,” he added.

During Israel Apartheid Week, he says, the Israeli students who were sent to assist them, mostly black girls, “had an incredibly helpful effect.” That is why they believe a formal society where both sides can come together could be effective. “I’d love to have a platform where we can come together and have these debates. I am really upset that I never got a chance this year,” he said, “but now that I know how to navigate the system, I think we may be able to (form a formal society) next year.”

So toxic is the environment for practicing Jewish students that most of them who enrol as Rhodes leave their religion blank in documentation.

“There are students who are interested to know about Israel, but they are hiding among the general population. They want to understand what the conflict is all about,” said Carno.

One of the Christian Zionist faculty-members, who also asked not to be named for fear of persecution, told Jewish Report that he looks at faces of the ill-informed at anti-Israeli events “and see they are asking themselves: ‘hold on, what’s going on here’ because the parable they are being fed doesn’t always add up.”

Prof Steven Friedman at it again

Last week, Sarah-Jane Bradfield published “Truth is often the first casualty in conflict” on the RHODES WEBSITE. The story is quoted verbatim and illustrated the institutional attitudes that pervade the Rhodes Campus.

Describing the intractable conflict between Israel and Palestine as comprising the best illustration of the greatest gap between reality and mainstream accounts of the violence, Professor Steven Friedman challenged contemporary accounts, saying that “truth is often the first casualty in conflict”.

Prof Friedman delivered a public lecture recently at Rhodes University entitled: “Why Memory Matters: Gaza, Recent History and the Campaign Against Truth.”

 “It seems to me that in any conflict which is fundamentally about domination, which Palestine is, the truth is very often the first casualty. It seems to me that truth is a casualty in this conflict in a very profound way,” Prof Friedman argued.

 “Having lived through the struggle of apartheid I cannot think of any other example of a conflict in which the divergence between observable reality and mainstream accounts of the conflict has been so wide. The gap between what we read and hear and are told in the mainstream does such great violence to the facts and evidence that one has to ask why this is so,” he said.

Prof Steven Friedman has worked as a trade unionist, journalist and academic and is a highly regarded public intellectual. He currently directs the Centre for the Study of Democracy which is a combined project of Rhodes University and the University of Johannesburg.

Over the last decade he has concentrated on the relationship between democracy, social inequality and economic growth and stressed the role of citizen voices in strengthening democracy. He is widely regarded as one of the most respected political intellectuals and theorists in the country.

In “Why Memory Matters: Gaza, Recent History and the Campaign Against Truth” Prof Friedman suggested that Hamas have been offering ceasefire and truces since 1997. He said Hamas has been repeatedly ignored by the Israeli government and that the news media are complicit in a broad misrepresentation of reality.

 “On one level the story is very simple – it is not often understood that whatever biases the media may have, the reality which shapes the coverage of all conflict is sheer bullying, a very unsubtle and crude process.”

A strong supporter of rights for Palestinians and a proponent of a one state solution in Israel and Palestine, Prof Friedman used two themes in Jewish ethics to illustrate why he believes the coverage to be misrepresenting and “divorced from reality.”

 “It is impossible to see this any longer as conflict between two warring groups who just can’t get on with one another. This is about a group of people deciding that the only way of controlling is by creating ethnically exclusive state by force,” he said.

Ideally, both parties, in the case of Israel and Palestine, should work at resolving their differences, but this “is not possible because it is not the reality of Gaza.

“We are not dealing with two groups who can’t find one another; we are dealing with one group who dominates the other in brutal ways and refuses to contemplate the end of the domination. Yet we continue to see accounts in which the relations of domination are never mentioned. The only way to refrain from mentioning domination is to do some very serious violations to the truth,” added Prof Friedman.

Related reads:

RHODES VC ACCUSED OF 'HATRED OF JEWS' published on 3 September which has links to various past anti-Israeli and anti-Jewish behavior at the once venerable University.

FRIEDMAN, GORDON & USERS FIGHT IT OUT published over the past week, Victor Gordon and Prof Friedman have been exchanging letters in SAJR and users have piled in with comments too.

SENATE’S 'NO!' TO ANTI-ISRAELI RESOLUTION – PUBLISHED TODAY! It took three days of relentless pursuit by Jewish Report before Rhodes would admit that the resolution had been tabled before Senate. Read the full Resolution that was tabled.


  1. 5 Gary Selikow 10 Sep
    Friedman's venom towards Israel and every Israeli man, woman and child i s well known
    His evil claim that 'We are not dealing with two groups who can’t find one another; we are dealing with one group who dominates the other in brutal ways and refuses to contemplate the end of the domination'. is something no decent human can concur with

    Arabs attacked Jews in Palestine from 1920 when they started to peacefully return to their ancient homeland
    Pogroms took place In 1920 Jews where massacred by Arabs in Jerusalem, in 1921 in Jaffa and in 1929 in Hebron. Thousands of Jews where murdered in 1936 to 1939 in the Nazi inspired Arab Revolt. The Arabs attacked the tiny fledgling State of Israel again
    in 1948 despite it taking up such a small proportion of the original Palestine Mandate.
    In 1947, the Jewish state settled on 18% of the original British Mandate land. This was accepted gratefully. The Arabs rejected it with a vengeance and seven Arab states immediately declared war against Israel.

    Hamas and Hezbollah, two of the terorist organizations that work for the physical annihilation of Israel describe Jews as 'pigs', 'cancer'. 'garbage','germs' 'parasites' and 'microbes'.
    In 2003 on the Eve of the Jewish New Year, seven month old Shaked Abraham was shot dead in her crib by an Arab murderer who forced his way into her parent's house as the family was celebrating the New Year.

    A ten-month-old Jewish baby, Shalhevet Pass, was shot in her father's arms by an Arab sniper in 2001.

    The following year, a five-year-old girl, Danielle Shefi, was shot to death at point blank range by an Arab killer, while cowering under her parents' bed.

    That same year, two boys, four- and five-years old, Matan and Noam Ohayon where shot dead together with their mother as she read them a bedtime story, in a kibbutz, by Arab terrorists.
    In the summer of 2005 pregnant Jewish women Tali Hatuel and her four terrified little daughters were executed at point blank range by terrorists of the Popular Resistance Committees, one after the other after Tali's car had been spun off the road by gunfire.
    Then there are the thousands of suicide bombing perpetrated by Arab terrorists in malls, restaurants, schools, buses and everywhere else where Jewish men, women and children in Israel gathered.Victims were killed, burned, maimed and shards of metal infected with rat poison lodged into their bodies.
    Unlike a traditional war zone, the victims are often riding, sitting in schools or enjoying a meal.
    So far 128 Jewish children have been killed, 9 of them less than a year old, 9 pregnant women have been murdered, 886 children have lost one parent and 31 have lost both. The youngest victim of terror was just one day old.
    what about the fogel family killing where Arab murderers entered a Jewish home and stabbed a whole family to death including a four year old boy and decapitated a three month old baby girl
    There has been no condemnation of these atrocities by vile propagandists like Steven Friedman, Virginia tilley, Ronnie Kasrils,  Greta Berlin, Noam Chomsky, Norman Finkelstein , Robert Fisk, George Galloway, etc etc etc. but Israel must protect her children from would be murderers and will continue to do so.
    One must always continue to ask why the powerful organizations, unions, church groups, academics ,governments etc advocate a boycott of Israel and only Israel, while not advocating any boycott or censure of States that do engage in genocide or severe repression and persecution like China, North Korea, Zimbabwe,Syria Iran or Sudan.

    no matter how much hate-obsessed fanatics may use incidents deliberately provoked by their accomplices as a stick to try to beat Israel to death. Why don't the left just live and let live and leave the tiny micro state of Israel alone?

  2. 4 Myron Robinson 11 Sep
    Friedman & his so called liberal cohorts are the main reason why there is so much anti-Semitism & anti-Israel propaganda. The fact that they are all silent on the atrocities in Syria etc. speaks volumes for their hypocrisy. I listened on line to the debate between Calis & Pogrund in East London. Calis mislead the audience with factually incorrect data yet the audience was substantially in her favour. I think that Israel should act the way that they are accused of doing because if so there will be no Gazans left as they would all then be dead. Problem solved.

  3. 3 Gary Selikow 11 Sep
    you only wrong on one thing- Myron, Friedman and his cohorts are not liberals-liberal in its true sense means open minded and flexible
    They are anything but that
    They are hard core extreme leftists (Stalinists and Trotskyites)  who want to see Israel and its people burn and cannot come to term with Israel's existence
  4. 2 brett jhb 12 Sep
    To just to be 100% clear:
    Myron Robinson is suggesting that the solution to the problem is ethnic genocide “Israel should act the way that they are accused of doing because if so there will be no Gazans left as they would all then be
    dead. Problem solved.”…
    and the only objection Gary Selikow has to this is that he called Prof Friedman a liberal?
    Just making sure I have this right. 
  5. 1 Myron Robinson 12 Sep
    Brett I am not suggesting ethnic Genocide. That is what Friedman et al accuses Israel of. If there was genocide committed by Israel in Gaza why has the Palestinian population increased by 600% since 1967. It is also typical of Friedman & his ILK to participate in debates that only propagate one view. And Friedman is an Associate Professor (Centre for the Study of Democracy - University of Johannesburg and Rhodes University). What a great leading light for democracy he & Rhodes U propagate.


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