Young people won’t be browbeaten

  • 2a-Mary Kluk tightcrop
Picking up from where I left off last week, I was most encouraged to read the statement put out by the students who participated in the recent SA-Israel Forum fact-finding trip to Israel.
by MARY KLUK | Jul 22, 2015

Cogent, forthright and unapologetic, this statement strenuously defended the basic right of South African citizens to access information, consider differing viewpoints and come to their own conclusions. The statement, without going into detail, also included observations on the on-the-ground realities of the Israel-Palestine situation that significantly challenge the simplistic, black-and-white narrative so assiduously propagated by the anti-Israel boycott lobby.

It is, of course, precisely this kind of exposure to views and information that contradicts, or at least seriously qualifies, their propagandist perspective that BDS-SA and its allies are so anxious to prevent.

Given the kind of pressures they were under, including threats of expulsion from their organisations, vitriolic verbal attacks and even attempts at bribery, the students should be admired both for standing firm regarding going on the trip itself and for their refusal to be intimidated on their return. 

One of the participants, Klaas Masilo, has since written about his experiences. His article, along with a related opinion piece by SAJBD Associate Director David Saks, appeared in the latest issue of the Sunday Tribune and can be accessed on the Board’s Facebook and website (www.jewishsa.co.za). 

Unfortunately, the students’ testimony has also confirmed our worst suspicions regarding the BDS movement and the pernicious influence it is exercising in stifling free debate and enquiry on the Israeli-Palestinian issue.

As a Jewish community, we have been subjected to a range of threats and insults, including attempts to exclude us from participating in public events. Now we have provided with first-hand insights into the kind of pressures South Africans in general are being placed under merely for showing a willingness to be exposed to alternative viewpoints.

Despite this, not one of the 18-member student group allowed him or herself to be brow-beaten into toeing the BDS line. For this, they have been vilified in certain quarters, but all who believe in the fundamental right of South Africans to freedom of thought, opinion and enquiry, will applaud them for the bold stand they have taken.

 

Last week, the Board also issued a response to the ruling of the Wits University legal office concerning its review of the disciplinary procedures against Mcebo Dlamini. The ruling, while confirming Dlamini’s removal as SRC president, concluded that his “Hitler” comments, while “abhorrent”, nevertheless did not fall into the category of constitutionally prohibited hate speech.

n a media statement, we clarified that this decision was relevant only in respect of Wits’ own internal rules and procedures, and had no judicial relevance outside those confines. The SAJBD remained convinced that Dlamini’s comments do not enjoy Constitutional protection and would be pursuing the cases of hate speech it had laid both with the South African police and with the SA Human Rights Commission.

We are indeed confident of obtaining in due course a ruling confirming the appalling hate speech he has been guilty of against our community.

 

  • Listen to Charisse Zeifert on Jewish Board Talk, 101.9 ChaiFM every Friday 12:00 - 13:00.

 

1 Comment

  1. 1 nat cheiman 24 Jul
    Agreed. But bring back the death penalty for amoeba's like Dlamini

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