UPDATED WITH VIDEO: Israeli-born pianist abandons performance after protest at Wits

UPDATE: 15 MAY 

Wits Vuvuzela has managed to salvage some footage from the protest by some Wits students of a concert by an Israeli-born pianist during Israel Apartheid week. We apologise for the poor quality of the footage which was shot with a cellphone.

 

UPDATE: 15 MARCH

SAUJS nationals liason officer, Harry Hoshovsky, has responded to protest action which took place during Israel Apartheid Week.

The statement from SAUJS read:

“Following the events of this week, SAUJS wishes to express its disgust and disappointment at the intolerance and blind malice displayed by Israel Apartheid Week and BDS Movement activists. SAUJS strongly supports the upholding of freedom of expression as a Constitutional right. Yet, despite our attempts to ensure that this core constitutional value is upheld, this week has highlighted that there are those on our campus who actively seek to silence, bully and eradicate any debate or well-reasoned arguments that contradict their extreme rhetoric.

 

This attitude was on full display as renowned human rights activist and former Sudanese slave, Simon Deng, was disrupted by supporters of the IAW campaign at his mere mention of the word ‘Israel’,despite this topic being a minor part of a speech focused on his tragic life story. We have also received several reports of Jewish students being harassed, discriminated against and victimized by those who claim that their events ‘promote dialogue and tolerance’. What they have wrought on campus is nothing short of disunity and conflict.

 

SAUJS wishes to point out that the SRC has the responsibility and mandate, to represent the interests of all students on campus and to encourage diversity, understanding and tolerance. They have been entrusted with this task and are expected to fulfil it. We therefore encourage our fellow students to reflect on the events that transpired this week and to consider over just who exactly should be held accountable by both them and the University, for the deliberate propagation of intolerance and division.”

addition, Wits University has issued a public apology for the disruption of the concert. Read the full statement here.

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ORIGINAL: 13 MARCH

Israeli-born pianist Yossi Reshef was escorted off stage by Wits Campus Control last night as students protested his presence on campus during Israel Apartheid Week.

“This guy coming here is trying to undermine Israel Apartheid week,” SRC vice-president (internal) Tokelo Nhlapo told Wits Vuvuzela.

Members of the Wits Student Representative Council (SRC), Muslim Students Association (MSA), Palestinian Solidarity Committee (PSC) as well as Progressive Youth Alliance (PYA), called for the protest as they did not want the concert to happen during international Israel Apartheid week.

Campus control had initially prevented the group of about 50 protesters from entering the Atrium Hall in the South West Engineering building where the concert was being held.

Students chanted and banged on the doors.  The protesters sang songs such as “Dubula ibhunu” a song that was previously under review due to what the AfriForum referred to as “hurtful lyrics”.

Once Campus Control opened the doors students stormed into the hall. They disrupted the performance by jumping on stage as well as blowing their vuvuzelas

Student activist Mbuyiseni Ndlozi addressed the crowd after they stormed the hall. “Our visitors must understand that we are Wits students in good standing. They must understand that in this university Zionism will not enjoy (sic) anymore. They will not bring anything related, sponsored, corroborating with Israel and will expect it will be romantically accepted.”

Wits Vuvuzela journalists tried to speak to people who had attended the concert however they were unwilling to comment.

Campus Control representatives also refused to comment and directed all enquiries to Wits Communication.

 

SRC responsible for Israeli pianist“disruption”

The Wits SRC has taken full responsibility for disrupting a musical recital by Israeli born pianist Yossi Reshef on March 12 during Israel Apartheid Week.

“The Student Representative Council takes full responsibility for the process; we take full responsibility for disrupting the concert,” said SRC Internal Vice President Tokelo Nhlapo. Members of the SRC, Muslim Students Association, Wits Palestinian Solidarity and the Progressive Youth Alliance protested against the musical recital by Reshef in the closed venue at the SW Engineering building.

The protestors stormed the stage; singing, dancing and chanting their support for Palestine. The concert was stopped and Reshef was ushered out of the venue by Campus Control. “These people must know that they won’t sing comfortably while Palestinians die,” said Nhlapo.

Reshef was born in Israel but presently resides in Berlin, Germany. Nhlapo promised more action against any artist visiting the university from Israel. “We are not gonna welcome any artist from Israel until the state of Israel has human rights like everyone else. “The boycott is not against individuals…We have nothing against the pianist,” said Nhlapo.

There has been ongoing investigation by the university to find those who are responsible for the disruption of the concert.“The university views the disruption of the concert in a very serious manner and is addressing this violation of its Code of Conduct through a thorough, formal investigation within the confines of its regulatory framework,” said Vice Chancellor Prof Loyiso Nongxa in a statement

Nongxa said the rights of Reshef had been violated and the disruption went against the core values of the University.