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SAUJS, Board lash out on UCT Hitler posters

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Black Monday students tell SAUJS, SRC that swastikas were to put struggle against statue into a form that “Jews could understand.” Intransigent & unapologetic over the images, Black Monday said they planned similar campaigns this week. Jewish students and Cape SAJBD were up in arms & the story is making international headlines. It is unclear why dissenting students who want founder Cecil Rhodes’ statue removed have targeted Jewish students in the process.
by VANESSA VALKIN and ANT KATZ | Mar 20, 2015

The SA Union of Jewish Students (SAUJS) took swift action after students at the University of Cape Town (UCT) arrived on campus Wednesday to find images of Adolf Hitler and swastikas plastered on pillars outside Jammie Hall. The large posters were in a prominent location, apparently with no explanation as to why they were there. Although they were speedily removed, many students had seen them and were distressed by their appearance.

Anti-BDS SpotlightingSAUJS were soon informed that the students responsible for the posters were organisers of the Black Monday campaign, the group who have been responsible for protesting against the Cecil John Rhodes statue on campus.

The series of protests of which Black Monday is a part, has already seen other students throwing human excrement at the statue.


RIGHT: A swastika in a public place without any context is often construed as an imminent threat of violence against Jews, said SAUJS. “No attempt has been made by the protesters to understand this fear, or… the visceral emotional reaction experienced by Jews upon seeing symbols of Nazism.”

SAUJS said it met with the UCT Students’ Representative Council (SRC) and the Black Monday perpetrators on Wednesday and were told that the responsible students had intended the inflammatory posters to show that Cecil John Rhodes was “just as bad as Hitler”.

The responsible students explained that it was impossible for white students to understand “the struggle of the black child”, and the outrage that black students feel upon seeing the statue daily.

Swastikas so “Jews could understand”

The swastikas were intended to put their struggle against the statue into a form that “Jews could understand.” The students were not at all apologetic, and said they had similar poster campaigns planned for the remainder of this week.

 

 

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LEFT: UCT is SA’s oldest university, founded in 1829. In 1928, the university moved to the site on Devil's Peak, land bequeathed by Rhodes for a national university

 

 

UCT - Hitler


RIGHT: SAUJS was “shocked and appalled by the installation of posters bearing the face of Adolf Hitler and large swastikas on the pillars of Jameson Hall”

 

Crime against humanity

SAUJS, in their statement, expressed outrage and said that “These students’ attempt to re-appropriate the Holocaust for the purposes of their own political aims is unacceptable, and trivializes the greatest crime against humanity in history.”

“When a swastika appears in a public place (especially without any context, as occurred today) this is often construed as an imminent threat of violence against Jews,” the statement continued, adding that “no attempt has been made by the protesters to understand this fear, or… the visceral emotional reaction experienced by Jews upon seeing symbols of Nazism.”

“SAUJS supports the struggle of black South Africans to redress inequality and remove the structural discrimination which exists against them as a result of colonialism,” the statement read. “[However,] the use of symbols of genocide against the Jewish people is not a justifiable form of protest,” it continued.

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 UCT - Hitler HOME

An example of the large Hitler and Swastika imagery
that greeted UCT students on Wednesday morning


 SAJBD’s Cape Council up in arms

Chairman of the Cape Council of the SA Jewish Board of Deputies, Eric Marx, was also up in arms.

“Whilst we support and endorse the right of students to protest against the historical and structural discrimination experienced by Black South Africans, we strongly condemn the appropriation of Nazi symbolism to communicate this pain,” he said.

In a statement issued on the Cape Board’s website, Marx said that “South Africans in particular should be very sensitive to the power of racist symbolism and language, used by the Apartheid regime over decades to oppress millions of South Africans.”

The fact is, said Marx, that the use of Nazi symbols is offensive to many more people than just the Jewish community. It is deeply offensive to the millions of people, he said, including “gypsies, homosexuals, Blacks and others who were systematically and brutally murdered under the banner of those symbols.”

The Cape Board has urged the students involved in the ‘Black Monday’ campaign “to reconsider their careless use of Nazi imagery.” They also called on the authorities of UCT to curtail the use of such imagery while at the same time addressing the real concerns of its student population.

SAUJS say they remain committed to ensuring that Jewish students feel safe on campus and that university management has opened a formal investigation into the matter. “We will demand that disciplinary proceedings are brought against these students, and that a precedent is set by which students understand that the use of symbols of genocide against the Jewish people is not a justifiable form of protest.”

SAUJS has asked all interested parties to join them in calling for the offending students to be brought to justice.

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UCT has one of the most beautiful settings of any university in the world. The land on which it stands was given by Cecil John Rhodes who is considered a very negative symbol Colonialism which seems to be agreed by almost everyone. What remains a mystery, is why those opposed to Rhodes’ statue are targeting Jewish students in their campaign.

The statue which was unveiled in 1934 has evoked much controversy since then over its place in the cultural and symbolic landscape of UCT. Many generations of UCT students have protested for its removal.  Rhodes, who served as prime minister of the Cape Colony in the 19th century, is widely scorned by black students for his historical discrimination and exploitation of blacks in the province during the colonial era.

On April 15, UCT Vice-Chancellor Max Price will be taking the question of the Rhodes statue to the UCT Council. Eyewitness News reported Thursday that Price had sent a letter to staff and students, saying that broad consultation was needed on this issue before any decisions were taken. In the letter, Price said the university is committed to transformation and happy to engage in a dialogue around statues, names of buildings and other symbols that some view as divisive.

On Tuesday, Price had told Eyewitness News, “I completely understand how the statue makes a lot of people feel, but I don’t think its airbrushing history, I don’t think the statue should be destroyed.” He said that he was not against moving the statue.

Alumni also being polled

The UCT Alumni Department also sent out a letter to alumni, asking former students to offer their viewpoints.“Twenty years into our nation's democracy, it is clear that the UCT community now needs to make a decision on whether this statue should continue to occupy such a prominent place, both on our campus and in the landscape of our identity as a South African university on the continent of Africa,” it said. 

3 Comments

  1. 3 Jp 20 Mar
    The point trying to be made seems to be calling for a recognition of a communal memory of hurt in some ways similar to that of the Jews as surely we would similarly protest (as we have done so) for eg, a statue of a Nazi or as in this case, posters of a Nazi and Nazi symbols. 

    If the Rhodes statue truly does cause hurt for descendants of victims of atrocities that Rhodes was responsible for then I think that the protest should be taken seriously.

    It is just sad that the method of protest has sometimes been repulsive (first using faeces) and emotionally hurtful (the most recent affecting Jewish students). I fear the protesters have "shot themselves in the foot" by distancing those who would most understand.

    My guess is the next group to be affronted are the Afrikaaners - think Paul Kruger...
  2. 2 nat cheiman 20 Mar
    From now on I am going to fly the old South African flag at my house and on my car. If confronted, I will say that it is for blacks to appreciate that the new SA flag means freedom from apartheid. My old SA flag will merely be a reminder.
    The problem in SA is that many students at varsity don't belong there because they are not properly educated. One can see the mentality. Who in their right mind would throw faeces at a statue ? Only demented halfwits.
    And these are the people that perhaps will graduate with meaningless degrees. Because no one except for the government will employ jerks and cretins.
    Nor do they understand, or wish to understand that this country has a varied history.
    They are idiots and to engage with them gives them credibility. Lock them up as they would do in any civilized country
  3. 1 abu mamzer 22 Mar
    My African friends...remember the murder of the Hereros in German Namibia in 1907 by non other than Herman Goering future Nazi leader.
    Remember the murder of French African troops after the occupation of France in 1941,by the Nazis.

    Africans have also been the victims of German Nazism and displaying inciting posters at UCT hurts all.

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