Wits societies’ joint initiative allows for anyone and everyone to show their solidarity with Palestine through the clothes on their backs or keffiyehs around their necks.

The Palestine Solidarity Committee (PSC) and the Muslim Students Association (MSA) are encouraging Wits University students to wear Palestinian items and colours during Israel Apartheid Month in March 2024, as the situation in the region deteriorates further.

This year a global effort has been made by the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement to stretch Israel Apartheid Week (IAW) over a month, which has been adopted by the PSC and MSA. Traditionally, IAW occurs during the week of Human Rights Day in South Africa.

Muhammed Suliman, MSA chairperson lamented that although “you have Human Rights Day… everyone fails to see the human rights violations that [are] ongoing” in Palestine right now. According to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, the total Palestinian death toll has climbed to over 32000, an injury toll of over 78000 and a further two million citizens have been displaced.

Abdullah Omar, an MSA Da’wah Committee member said the ongoing situation in Palestine is an “atrocity” that is an example of “what apartheid (in South Africa) could have been”, had it never ended.

Two Wits University students heeding the PSC call on the library lawns. Photo: Tristan Monzeglio
A PSC flag utilising watermelon symbolism and has “resistance is not terrorism” written on it. Photo: Tristan Monzeglio

Suliman said “the Palestine issue is not a religious one… it’s a humanitarian issue”. Academic Officer for the PSC, Noxolo Nxele, said “there’s a lot more to talk about and a lot more people to talk to” and this simple initiative is their effort to expand on the calls for a ceasefire while raising awareness.

Noxolo said there are a vast array of Palestinian resistance symbols (watermelons, olives and keys), that students can use to show their support for Palestine. From what Wits Vuvuzela has observed this week, there have been multiple students wearing keffiyehs and displaying watermelon themed flags in a show of solidarity.

The representatives from the PSC and the MSA also stressed that much more attention and support from Wits is required regarding the promotion of this initiative, as well as others of its kind.

In a statement, the university was only willing to comment on applications made by Wits PSC and the South African Union of Jewish Students, and said all planned events and demonstrations by either society was “approved in line with the University’s policies and procedures”.