Wits Palestine Solidarity Committee and South African Union of Jewish Students clash during Israeli Apartheid Week.
Tensions continue to flare between the Wits Palestine Solidarity Committee (Wits PSC) and South African Union of Jewish Students (SAUJS) during Israeli Apartheid Week which began on March 12, despite the university placing the society’ stalls in separate locations on Wits Main Campus for the first time.
This year, Wits University management has kept the demonstrations of the two societies separate. SAUJS has been placed in front of the Chamber of Mines Building, while the PSC stall is in front of the FNB Building on West Campus.
On Monday the PSC participated in a demonstration called the “Cube of Truth” in front of the FNB Accounting Sciences Building on West Campus, the committee proceed from the FNB building and walked towards the SAUJS stall to silently protest around them. According to the PSC, upon their arrival, private security prevented them from going near the SAUJS stalls and an argument erupted between the PSC, private security and SAUJS members.
The PSC chairperson and third-year BCom Politics, Philosophy and Economics student, Nonkululeko Mntambo said they did not approach with the intention of provoking the SAUJS.
“It’s a silent protest, we literally came here holding up signs that say ‘Come see why we’re here’, there’s not provocation in the signs and actions but apparently our mere presence is a threat. Now we are forced to move as we always have been forced to by Zionists and their like,” she said.
The national chairperson of SAUJS and Wits BCom Honours in Marketing student, Rachel Raff, said the PSC were in violation of the rules of engagement stipulated by the university.
“Our day was proceeding as usual and our speaker, Ishmael Khaldi, was speaking and the PSC came onto our camp… they basically encroached on our space and they wouldn’t leave even after the security guards told them to leave and they were completely in violation to the rules of engagement by the university and they wouldn’t leave,” said Raff.
According to Wits Protection Services security, Albert Mashau, “They (PSC) wanted to join the meeting, that’s what they were saying when they were disagreeing. This Israelites don’t want them here; the disagreement is about each society having their own meetings places.”
On Tuesday morning, Wits Protection Services found anti- Zionist graffiti around the Chamber of Mines building area and the Science Stadium. The buildings and bench was sprayed with profanities against Israel “F*&# Israel”, “Israel is Anti-Black” and “F*&# Zionism”.
Thanks to @BDSsouthAfrica on @WitsUniversity campus for this hate-filled vandalism. Absolutely disgusting! They aren't interested in peace; they just hate. #AntiSemitism #SouthAfrica@michaeldickson @ewnupdates @thedailyvox @WitsVuvuzela pic.twitter.com/LnssSJnUKl
— Mordechai (@mordechai7897) March 13, 2018
Wits Protection Services Crime and Prevention Manager, Lucky Khumela said, “It is SAUJS who are offended because it is against their religion. An incident report has been lodged with Protection Services and we are going on with our investigations and disciplinary action if we can get hold of the people who have done it.”
“Not because they (PSC) were expressing their views but because they are damaging the image of the university by putting graffiti on restricted areas,” he added.
The chairperson of Wits SAUJS and BA Honours in Psychology student, Yanir Grindler said, “We don’t know who exactly did it but we have reported it to Campus Control, it is a matter that will be taken up… it’s just unfortunate because the university workers have gone around cleaning up the graffiti, coming out of the Wits budget because they didn’t vandalise the SAUJS tent, they vandalised the university.”
Mnatmbo responded to the graffiti by saying that the PSC will be discussing the matter internally before providing comment.
- Wits Vuvuzela, Israeli apartheid week unleashes turf war, March, 2017
- Wits Vuvuzela, Wits management leaves Israel Apartheid Week exhibit in place, March, 2016