Levelling, reducing tension on campus battlefields

  • top2015 ALL-TIME
The Rhodes fiasco, what it cost them and who left after our exposé. The rise of toxic anti-Zionism, followed by the fall of a once-revered university, has all the makings of a thriller. Over 3 years it involved institutional spying on Jews & illicit use of public funds to bash Israel. After determined attempts by some Jewish leaders to leave it alone & those of a brave few to fight & conquer, Rhodes’ devastating & very expensive defeat, loss of leadership & huge losses of Jewish donor funding, proved a lesson to institutions with more intellect at the helm.
by ANT KATZ | Jan 13, 2016

Most read story of all time on JR Online

The re-telling of the momentous events that led to the fall, deeper fall and ultimate toppling of a regime at Rhodes University that allowed, and, many pundits would say, encouraged anti-Israel bias and outright racism towards Jewish staff and students, is not required. It already appears on the pages of this website in  detail.

Rhodes Bags
A five word headline quote from one of the heroes of this tawdry tale, past national president of the SAJBD, the Cape Chamber of Commerce, one of SA’s leading labour attorneys and now DA MP and deputy shadow minister for labour, Michael Bagraim (Pictured right) – a former Rhodian himself – sums it all up: a Jewish staffer had been "targeted for her Zionist affiliations".

What had emerged in a report by a Jewish leadership delegation sent in April 2013 to investigate complaints by Jewish students and staff on campus unravelled into a sorry tale of Jews and Zionists being persecuted at Rhodes. It took a former mayor, the SAZF, a website and a handful of heroes backed by a determined lawyer to ensure Rhodes paid for their failure of stakeholders.

In-depth investigations by the author over 18 months showed how Rhodes had - also illicitly it turned out - been using institutional funds to back BDS, Israel Apartheid Week and other anti-Israeli and anti-Jewish activities on campus.

Kruger - FransIt also cost Rhodes millions in current and future donor funding from Jewish sources!

Top read of all time

In all, over twelve months, some 56 CONTENT ITEMS were posted on Rhodes’ anti-Israeli activities. They continue to be read regularly. In 2014 alone they were read over 25 000 times and resulted in over 300 user-posted comments.

To better understand the extent of the damage to Rhodes’ reputation, both locally and globally, do a Google search of three words: Rhodes Jewish Report. The remarkable outcome is a whopping
423 000 results - in other words web pages where it has been posted, and that is only those in which which include the SAJR's name. The story has been re-posted by campuses and mainstream media around the world – and almost every Jewish media outlet globally.

Wits & UCT too

Over the same period, for example, 98 CONTENT ITEMS ON WITS were posted. While the earlier posts illustrate an almost anarchic situation where student hooligans tried their utmost to act as Rhodes did, the vast majority cover the period after newly-appointed VC Prof Adam Habib entered the picture.

No great lover of Israel in his personal capacity, Prof Habib took charge with a no-nonsense approach that quickly reminded the student community and outside forces such as BDS and Cosatu who was in charge of the campus.

The evolving Rhodes' fiasco, no doubt, informed some of Prof Habib’s decisions and he went on to ensure that Wits was a campus where Jewish students and staffers could feel safe and at home.

Similarly, were Jewish Report Online users to search through the 34 CONTENT ITEMS ON UCT they would find out how UCT Vice-Chancellor Dr Max Price, too, has stamped out anti-Israel hooliganism on his campus over the past two years.

In essence, this was Larissa’s tale

Rhodes - Klazinga Larissa“One of the reasons I wanted to tell the story in my own words was because I wanted to make clear that Rhodes is not an institution full of scoundrels,” Larissa Klazinga (Pictured RIGHT) told the SA Jewish Report Online. “There are a lot of very good people there who stood by me,” she said, adamant that her version of the story be published first.

01 Oct 2013:
RHODES DEBATE ISSUE LEAVES UNANSWERED QUESTIONS - Rhodes was unable to decide how to proceed after SA Jewry declined to participate in a campus debate. Rhodes subsequently cancelled the debate. The topic: “Israel is an apartheid state” by ANT KATZ

01 Oct 2013: CONCERN OVER ANTI-JEWISH ACTION ON CAMPUSES - Since ‘94 SA has worked hard to dissolve the institutions of race and heal wounds between communities. We have made huge strides but there is still much work to do – an op-ed by CHUCK VOLPE

30 Dec 2014: THE STORY THE BOARD DIDN’T WANT READ - Originally published on April 25 2013 on MyShtetl under the headline “Rhodes' anti-Israel shocker”, the story was read over 13 000 times on that (now defunct) website, had numerous angry comments posted and was widely quoted. It also resisted all attempts at being pulled; started the migration of donor funds to the institution and initiated several investigations that led to embarrassing findings and senior staffers leaving, retiring early or simply resigning

01 Jan 2014: RHODES UNIVERSITY: NOT A HOME FOR ALL - Larissa’s tale in her own words – all-time #2 read on website with over 10 000 direct reads. Many comments and link to download in a PDF format – by LARISSA KLAZINGA.

Rhodes - Dr Badat01 Jan 2014: RHODES PAYS DEARLY FOR ANTI-ZIONIST STAND - Read how Jews and Zionists were persecuted at Rhodes and how it took the teaming up of a former mayor, the SAZF, a journalist/publisher, a small band of brave Zionists on campus (not all Jewish) and several other heroes - backed by a determined legal team and some angry alumni - to ensure Rhodes paid for their atrocious failure - by ANT KATZ

LEFT: Rhodes campus with former VC Badat inset 

02 Jan 2014:
The CHARGE SHEET PDF – against Larissa had 15 charges (7 relate to religion or religious politics) and 18 further "points of discussion" of which nine related to Israel. The term "Israel" is expressed 10 times on the charge sheet. VC denied knowledge of it and tore it up the same evening

08 Jan 2014: THE AFTERMATH – The then-eight-week-old Jewish Report website had over 10 000 reads in just five days, with readers logging in at a rate of up to 400 per hour, from a single story gone viral. “Granted, it is not every day that Rhodes tries to fire a Jewish staffer for being pro-Zionist & gay, or that such staggering revelations about BDS would emerge,” we wrote at the time. “BUT THIS WEEK THERE IS A LOT MORE TO REPORT” wrote ANT KATZ, and there sure was.

29 Jan 2014: RHODES U RESPONDS TO JEWISH REPORT - Rhodes’ VC posted a lengthy response to the story. Badat and other key role-players at Rhodes were contacted for comment before the publication of the story relating to the dismissal of a Jewish staffer. Dr Badat refused to do so at the time. Their response was posted without comment, other than to say: “SA Jewish Report considers numerous portions of the Rhodes response defamatory and substantially inaccurate. SAJR holds a significant trove of documents that prove that what was published was correct - and that the Rhodes response is evasive, erroneous and does not level any specific allegations of inaccuracy.” By DR SALEEM BADAT

19 March 2014: BDS ON THE BACK FOOT AFTER IRONIC IAW - At Rhodes, where much of the trouble started last year, the anti-Israel lobby found themselves choked of funding & only managed to hold a small event. “Rhodes was very good,” agrees SAUJS’ national chairman, Ariela Carno, “we were the only people who had a presence there.” SAUJS’ Cape chairman even managed to get BDS posters removed and SAUJS’ posters put up! By ANT KATZ

01 April 2014: HIDDEN AGENDA OF ‘ISRAELI APARTHEID WEEK’ - Senior Rhodes lecturer & active Christian Zionist submitted this “most interesting letter” from a “politics student on the recent Israeli Apartheid Week held at Rhodes.” The letter was given to Pino Suliman, one of three Israeli students who supported the SA Union of Jewish Students during IAW at Rhodes – which flopped badly. By MARK WOODLAND

Stories in this series of Top Reads 2015:

03 Sept 2014:
ACTING RHODES VC ACCUSED OF 'HATRED OF JEWS' - Having dispensed with the old order, acting vice-chancellor Dr Sizwe Mabizela stood accused by alumnus LINDA GORDON of making statements so “one-sided and inflammatory”, and “evidently fuelled by a baseless and unsubstantiated hatred of Jews. “I take umbrage at the stance by the university…” she told him off.

10 Sept 2014: RHODES IS HOTBED OF ANTI-ISRAEL ACTIVITY - SAUJS, Jewish & Christian Zionist students & staff at Rhodes express concern over deteriorating situation 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. SEE VIDEO of a supposed impartial debate on the Media and Gaza. By ANT KATZ

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

How it all came to an end

Larissa Klazinga, the Jewish staffer who was at the heart of the matter, received a substantial (undisclosed) pay-out from the once austere university – after the Jewish media and leading communal lawyers gave of their time to crack open the case.

Very substantial sponsorships and grants have been withdrawn from Rhodes over the incidents. BDS members were sanctioned for operating spying activities against Klazinga and six senior Rhodes staffers, including the VC and a department head left within months of Jewish Report Online's publication of the exposé on  January 1  2014. 

Why publish on  January 1? Because that was the date that the "shut-up" clause expired, Klazinga had left the campus and was safely resettled far, far away from Grahamstown.

On the positive side…

Although the BDS-inspired anti-Israel and anti-Semitic antics on campuses between 2012 and 2014 may seem tame compared to the present #FeesMustFall world, they were considered very serious at the time.

Jewish students were afraid to fill in the "Religion" field on Rhodes application forms and over half of them wrote "none" - while similarly dangerous environments for Jewish youth were evolving on several other campuses.

During early 2014, the VCs at both Wits and UCT adopted no-nonsense approaches to ensure to the best of their abilities that their Jewish students felt safe on their campuses. Wits, in particular, faced threats of the loss of substantial donor funding unless they complied. Rhodes are still trying to retrieve Jewish donors and fund-raisers they lost.

While tens of thousands of words were written on the subject on Jewish Report’s pages and online over 2014, much has had to be left unsaid – in the best interests of the community’s future relations on campuses.

After reading the stories highlighted here, users will realise how toxic the Rhodes campus has become for Jewish students – and why many, even observant Jewish students, chose not to disclose their religion to fellow students.


  1. 3 nat cheiman 14 Jan
    My alma mater. What a disgrace, perpetrated by so called educated persons.
    Badat apparently was unable to get another job in SA and is in America (purportedly).
    I guess the CIA are probably watching him with a beady eye.
    I' m sure that Rhodes has lost the Jewish donors for good.
    Adam Habib, has his hands full trying to keep Wits going through protest after protest.
    Am I sympathetic? Not a chance. He deserves the chaos.
  2. 2 Nick Pohl 19 Jan
    Does Adam Habib need any whitewashing?  I don't think so.  During his tenure at UJ that university became a hotbed of anti-Zionism.  I can't remember him leaning backwards to stop this vicious trend in its tracks. 
  3. 1 nat cheiman 28 Jan
    Has anyone noticed the difference between Vice Chancellors prior to 1998 and today? 
    Remember VC Bozzoli and VC Henderson?
    Today, the VC's call themselves Doctors, Professors etc.
    Where did they achieve these " doctorates"  etc?
    Habib doesn't even talk intelligently, let alone like a VC


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