SAUJS hold back BDS’ IAW tsunami

  • IAW 15 Daisi poster Candle Of The Lord Full
BDS calls “Israel Apartheid Week” whilst Jewish students dub it “Israel Awareness Week” – whatever you want to call it - IAW 2015 looks to be a draw at this stage. The Jewish students, bolstered by help from many quarters, are certainly holding their own. Read how SAUJS is doing it, their strategy, who is assisting them and why they are staying on top. ALSO, SEE LOTS OF PICTURES THAT SAY A THOUSAND WORDS…
by ANT KATZ | Mar 03, 2015
The annual week-long tussle between BDS and SAUJS on campuses around the county is in full swing. What BDS calls Israel Apartheid Week and Jewish students dub “Israel Awareness Week” (IAW) looks to be a draw at this stage.


The local arm of US-based NGO Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions (Israel), BDS-SA and its many affiliates are pitted against the SA Union of Jewish Students (SAUJS) – supported by a host of Jewish organisations and pro-Israel groups in the annual battle to win the hearts and minds of students on campuses.

Bibi at aipac

RIGHT: Father Gabriel Naddaf, a priest from the Greek Orthodox Church who has come out for IAW to talk on "The Rights of Christians in the Middle East, stops off at a local store to buy tomatoes that were developed at, and are licensed by, Hebrew U in Jerusalem which holds over 7,000 patents

Jewish Report Online will be posting daily updates from around the country with the assistance of the SA Zionist Federation’s Benji Shulman.

In comparison with last year, when SA Jewry supported the students to counter IAW with all resources available to it, this year has been calmer and less vitriolic this year with no incidents of violence reported to date.

The Jewish students, says Benji Shulman, have been better prepared and trained this year. This, says Shulman, has been “very helpful in that (the students) are able to engage on Israel in a more informative manner.”

This is crucial as on some campuses and at certain times the SAUJS tents have more students visiting with a genuine interest in finding out more about Israel.

Bibi Netanyahu- at IPAC 2015

LEFT: SAUJS’ poster for their special guest speakers in Johannesburg and Cape Town


“BDS seem to have put more focus on UCT in Cape Town this year,” says Benji.

On the Wits campus the pro-Israel lobby were heartened by fact that the first two days weren’t rained out as they had been last year.

This has been a boon, says the SAZF’s Benji Shulman, as they have been able to erect their gazebos up are handing out free ice creams “as a way of engaging the general student body.”

israeli mock election website

RIGHT: Father Naddaf engaging with an Israeli student, left, and an SA student at Wits on Monday

Shulman says that SAUJS nationwide have been better organised this week, having learned from their experiences at IAW 2014.

“There seem to be more little events being staged by BDS this year,” he says, adding that “so far it has been less intense and aggressive this year.”

BDS is also fielding lower profile speakers this year, while SAUJS have done the opposite, with various innovative new campaigns and top speakers they have brought out – including Father Gabriel Naddaf of the Greek Orthodox Church and

Palestinian peace activist Bassam Eid. Father Naddaf is talking on various campuses on “The Rights of Christians in the Middle East” while Eid, director of the Palestinian Human Rights Monitoring Group is speaking on “Peace and the Palestinian People.”


Bibi Netanyahu- at IPAC 2015

SAUJS at UCT came up with this novel branding which perfectly expresses the theme of Israel Awareness Week: “Let’s talk solutions”

Also in SA for the week is World Union of Jewish Students (WUJS) head, Andi Gergly from Hungary. She will speak on several campuses.

The Speakers have also moved out of halls at Wits this year and are speaking on the lawns, right opposite BDS’ tent.

Defend Embrace Invest Support Israel (Deisi), the fast-growing SA-based Christian Zionist group, has joined forces with SAUJS to promote Israel Awareness Week this year. Part of their campaign is to ask Christians to light a candle for Israel.

Apart from the traditional campuses covered by SAUJS’ counter-IAW events, the Jewish students have spread their wings further for 2015. Firstly, with a new SAUJS branch having been established at Tuks in Pretoria, they have added this campus to their activities. Deisi has also been opening new branches on camuses which has allowed SAUJS to include UWC in Cape Town and to bolster their presence at UJ in Johannesburg.

​New campuses covered by SAUJS

SAUJS’ efforts received a boost when the SRC at Tuks refused to endorse any IAW events – and, in fact, on Thursday the SRC are hosting an “Israel Palestine Awareness Conference”.

The innovative approach in 2014 of bringing Israeli students of mixed demographic backgrounds to engage students was so successful that SAUJS again had around a dozen of them on campuses around the country. UCT even has a a Muslim Israeli student in their contingent.

Deisi is distributing a booklet called: “Why should we miss out on Israeli innovation” which students are finding very interesting, says Benji Shulman. “We are finding students very interested,” he says, and want to know more. Students visit both the BDS and the SAUJS tents, he says, despite the best efforts of BDS-SA’s supporters like the ANC, Cosas, Cosatu and many more.

  • The SA Jewish Board of Deputies, Zionist Federation and Deisi held a protest at BDS’ IAW launch media conference last week.

IAW 15 Endorsing Orgs FULL

The students at Wits ensured that their display and exhibition was inviting and they had many students passing through looking for real information on Israel

IAW 15 Father Naddaf buying Israeli tomatoes1 RHS

Instead of the speakers addressing students in halls as was previously the case, SAUJS ensured that they spoke out on the lawns, in the open (and right opposite BDS). The speakers were well received.

Bibi at aipac - HOME

BDS’ list of endorsing organisations as published on their website – some pundits have cast doubt over whether there is some level of smoke and mirrors involved in this list

Bibi Netanyahu- at IPAC 2015

Deisi have produced this marvellous poster inviting students on campuses around the country to light a candle for Israel

Bibi Netanyahu- at IPAC 2015

Students of all ethnic backgrounds visited the SAUJS display and engaged with the Jewish students from SA and Israel. There was, says SAUJS, a genuine thirst for knowledge about the real Israel


  1. 4 Myron Robinson 04 Mar
    Yasher Koach to SAUJS & all concerned, Fight for what we all believe in.
  2. 3 The Guy with The Pony Tail 06 Mar
    The thirst for knowledge included an appeal to SAUJS students to articulate the reality of the apartheid Palestinians experienced at the hands of Israel, I love how the caption to the last picture does NOT express the context of that moment. #StopDefendingApartheid #RunZionistRun 
  3. 2 Charles Nankin 06 Mar
    here is more on bassam eid, who the activists are obviously very upset about, judging by his treatment at UJ:

  4. 1 Jonni 08 Mar
    A smart way to engage with these boofheads.
    well done to SAUJS whose strategy is refreshing and uplifting and more nb enlightening


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