Wits PSC grovel and apologise for faux pas

  • iaw16d HOME
On Monday night Israel Apartheid Week organisers hung two mannequins (pic) on Wits campus. "SAUJS was on that one like a rash" and placed signs on the hung figures. Black students then objected to the black mannequins and ripped them down. Faced with a tirade of complaints, a red-faced Wits Palestinian Solidarity Committee had to issue an apology on their Facebook page on Wednesday. Needless to say, they found lots of others to blame for their faux pas.
by ANT KATZ | Mar 10, 2016

On Tuesday morning Wits students arrived on the campus horrified to see that overnight, the Israel Apartheid Week organisers had hung two mannequins – one from makeshift gallows and another from a tree. "SAUJS was on that one like a rash" their National Chairman Dani Hovsha told JR Online, placing signs on the hung figures which read: “In Palestine, if you sell land to a Jew you can be hanged!”

Black students on the campus were infuriated as the mannequins were black and ripped them down later in the day. Interestingly, many Jews and Israelis are black one of the themes of the SAUJS poster campaign this week has been the many colours of Israel.

iaw16a NicciHowever, the Wits Palestinian Solidarity Committee were faced with a tirade which created such a conundrum for them that they had to issue an apology on their Facebook page on Wednesday.



RIGHT: One of the two black victims of BDS - and the SAUJS signs alongside



"The instillation itself was intended to represent the ‘hanging to dry’ of the voices of Wits students,” posted the PSC leadership.

“The mannequins, which just happened to be black in colour were to be used for this purpose and this purpose alone.”

The PSC then apologised - sort of - followed by a long diatribe in which they managed to blame Wits management; Vice Chancellor Adam Habib; the State of Israel; South African and world Jewry; and everyone else in the world for their error and their woes.



Here’s their statement verbatim:

Dear Students

Currently Israel Apartheid Week is taking place around the world. This event aims to highlight the oppression of the Palestinian people by the apartheid Israeli regime. Over the last few years we have seen all Palestinian solidarity activities being severely clamped down on by Professor Adam Habib.

iaw16d HOMELast week the Wits PSC was forcibly removed by private security from the Library Lawns, a public space on campus, after a peaceful balloon release and solidarity rally. This event was disrupted by Private Security, the very same Private Security paid for using our fees to supposedly protect us on our campus, protect us from what we must ask?


LEFT: Oddly enough, a series of posters on the Wits Campus this week includes the series "The United Colours Of Israel" which explains that Jews and Israelis come in all colours and sizes


In an act of defiance, we refused to allow the university to dictate to us who we must share the lawns with and how we must show solidarity with the oppressed Palestinian people. We decided instead to have a symbolic instillation on campus to raise awareness and stimulate conversation about how quick Wits is to use force against students on campus through Private Security. The instillation itself was intended to represent the ‘hanging to dry’ of the voices of Wits students. The mannequins, which just happened to be black in colour were to be used for this purpose and this purpose alone.

iaw16aHOME
RIGHT: One of the mannequins hangs from a mekeshift gallows on Tuesday morning before black students tore them down 



The mannequins, because they were put up late at night, were found undressed in the morning as the clothes which we had put onto them, as well as the placards which were placed on them, were taken down. The placards read “The death of Free Speech ‪#‎HabibsFascistWits‪#‎IsraeliApartheidWeek”.

The hanging of these mannequins dressed in civilian clothing and keffiyehs, a symbol of the Palestinian Resistance, as well as with tape over their mouths was intended to tell the story of solidarity on our South African campuses, where soldiers in the Israeli Defense Force who have killed men, women and children are allowed to move freely, but registered students who dare speak out on human rights issues are forcibly removed by private security.

The mannequins had masking tape on their mouths, this intended to tell this story of resistance to the suppression of dissent, the militarisation of campus and the criminalisation of protest in the university space that we have seen under the draconian administration of Adam Habib.

iaw16d HOMEIn a university where any event that has anything to do with the Palestinian cause must follow separate rules and protocols. We felt that we were making a statement about how our university spaces are being turned into spaces that police protest, and police political stances and our freedom of expression and association.

LEFT: Another of the posters  on the Wits Campus in "The United Colours Of Israel" which explains that Jews and Israelis come in all colours and sizes


The Wits PSC unconditionally apologises for the display on the library lawns yesterday depicting mannequins hanging from a tree. Whilst the intention was not to offend, we fully understand the negative impact of the display and that it links with a brutal history of colonialism that we have collectively faced. Unfortunately, in attempting to highlight the repression on the Wits campus, we made a grave error in judgment.

In no way did we intend to appropriate the struggles of black people in promoting the Palestinian cause – we understand fully that progressive internationalism requires solidarity and a mutual recognition of struggles fought on both sides. The display ended up being interpreted as a depiction of a historically grotesque experience of the lynching of black people under colonialism and slavery. We have also been made aware that the display was also offensive given the horrific public hangings of victims of ISIS (including Palestinian refugees) that are currently ongoing in parts of the Middle East.

We extend our gratitude to all who raised the issues of the display with us as the Wits PSC. The solidarity movement is itself a learning space. We also firmly believe in creating open spaces to discuss solidarity efforts, as such we have learnt from these events and will continue to refine our analysis and strategies.

We deeply regret this display and hope that it will not deter the support that South Africans, including many students on our campus, have shown to the Palestinian cause. We are committed to being a progressive organisation that supports freedom and justice for the oppressed people of Palestine and the international isolation of the unjust Israeli regime.

 Yours in Struggle



In a series of foot-in-mouth events that have played out on The Daily Vox website over the past few days culminated in a piece published today on the atrocious "House of horrors" that BDS-SA has been reduced to... 

Read the series:


1 Comment

  1. 1 yitzchak 11 Mar
    Remember  Pastor Niemoller's words.
    They came for the Jews.
    Next They (the BDS moslem wannabbees) will come for the blacks.

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