Students trained and ready to tackle IAW
The South African Union of Jewish Students (SAUJS) is currently on its annual Leadership Development Course (LDP) in Israel. SAUJS is the only organisation that exists within South Africa aimed at protecting and supporting any university student who has an interest in Judaism or Zionism.
SAUJS has a rich and diverse history with approximately 90 years of Jewish student activism. Within SAUJS, two structures exist: campus committees – which are formed on individual campuses, and have various portfolios (such as political, social and religious etc); and the national committee – which consists of 12 national portfolios which act as an umbrella body for the various campus portfolios, providing support and resources. The majority of the National Committee is located in Johannesburg.
RIGHT: Natan Pollack, national chair, SAUJS
The 2015 SAUJS team arrived in Israel on 28 December, to attend the World Union of Jewish Students (WUJS) congress in Ein Tzurim, Ashkelon. The annual WUJS congress, brings together Jewish Student Unions from around the world, and addresses relevant issues Jewish Students face globally.
The SAUJS team found the congress inspiring; sharing ideas and concepts, whilst learning that there is global support for their endeavours on South African campuses. The congress visited the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, where respective countries got to share their concerns and suggestions to the Ministry.
On 1 January 2015, the SAUJS team began their Leadership Development Program (LDP). This annual two week long trip is aimed at trying to better understand the geo-political conflict within Israel. The aim is to understand the narrative of Israelis and Palestinians on both sides of the political spectrum. The SAUJS team toured, and met with various organizations, in attempt to equip its leadership with better political tools, by giving them first hand experiences; as opposed to the distorted media usually used.
Complex issues viewed from different perspectives
The first part of the trip was based in Jerusalem; where SAUJS visited areas such as East Jerusalem, as well as met with various organisations such as Ir Amim and Stand With Us. SAUJS then travelled south to the controversial city of Hebron, where they engaged with both Israeli Settlers and Palestinian activists, understanding the complex issues from different perspectives.
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SAUJS’ 2015 national elective caucus
Additionally whilst in Jerusalem, the SAUJS team met with innovative and influential people, such as Itzik Yarkoni – founder of BOMAH, and Steve Linde – Chief Editor of JPost. These experiences were refreshing, and reminded the SAUJS team that despite the ongoing conflict, there is a wealth of innovation and inspiration within Israel – a message that so clearly needs to be conveyed on campus within South Africa.
The SAUJS team then headed for Tel Aviv, where they explored other areas of interest. They visited Ariel industrial area and university; providing the team with an example of shared work and study between Israelis and Palestinians – an inspiring message. The team also spent time with WIZO, understanding parts of Israeli societal issues, and how they are being addressed.
Whilst LDP has a few days left, the SAUJS team feel overwhelmed with a flurry of emotion, political viewpoints and inspiration. The team have an action packed year ahead, with a particular focus on Israel ‘Apartheid’ week. This SAUJS team have committed to sharing their experiences and training with other SAUJS members and active students. SAUJS believe that they have gained a combination of first hand facts, together with more efficient way to convey their message, and this will allow them to tackle the age old giant of Israel on campuses.