By Emelia Motsai, Thuletho Zwane and Ray Mahlaka
Wits has arranged for another Israeli musician to perform at the university to make up for the concert that was disrupted in March.
After a concert was disrupted on March 12, the university asked the organisers how they could make up for the disruption “for those who had bought tickets but were not able to enjoy the concert”, according to Vice Chancellor Adam Habib.
A group of about 50 students, including at least nine SRC members, disrupted a concert by Israeli-born pianist Yossi Reshef in March. The concert happened during Israel Apartheid Week. Eleven students were later charged by the university for contravening the university’s code of conduct. Habib said the university and the SRC were meeting on Monday to discuss the issue.
Not on Our watch
Habib said if he listened to everything the SRC had to say, his role as a vice chancellor would mean nothing
SRC internal vice president Tokelo Nhlapo said they are “going to debate them. If they fail to debate us, we will use civil non-violent protest to show that the university is being used to cleanse the bloody image of Israel.”
Nhlapo said the concert would not happen on their watch. “We are not going to be silenced by the charges.”
Habib said that, even though the SRC was chosen to represent students, they should realise they did not represent the student body on all issues. “I have in my office a whole range of petitions saying they do not agree with what the SRC did and that I must continue to prosecute.”
Habib said if he listened to everything the SRC had to say, his role as a vice chancellor would mean nothing: “They would just tell me what to do.” University management wanted to “make sure the reputation of the university is not impugned”.
Sitting one the fence
Habib said the music department had been tasked with organising the new concert. They could not secure Reshef so another Israeli musician had been invited.
Habib denied the university had “taken sides” on the Israel-Palestine issue: “You can’t be a free space for ideas and say that one side is allowed and the other is not.”
Nhlapo disagrees. “We think it is hypocritical that the university will fight for the Dalai Lama but refuses to stand up to Israel.” He said they would not allow Habib to go against the values that Wits stood for.
“We are going to give Habib a political baptism.”
The concert will take place on August 28 at the Great Hall. The South African Zionist Federation said it would be open to everyone. The students who were charged are now facing disciplinary hearings, which will resume on September 25.
“If we are going to be expelled for protesting, then I don’t want to be a part of this university,”
- Wits Vuvuzela. SRC responsible for Israeli pianist “disruption”. April 12. 2013.
- Wits Vuvuzela. SRC members face charges. April 19, 2013
- Wits Vuvuzela. The charges against the eleven will not be dropped. May 17, 2013.