Wits SRC President: Call to expel Jewish students from DUT “ridiculous and stupid”

TRIED & TESTED: Progressive Youth Alliance (PYA) candidate Mcebo Dlamini convincing students to vote for the "very same leadership that has been with you through thick and thin". Dlamini assured students that no amount of insults will take away the PYA from students. Dlamini was addressing a crowd of students at one of the  lunch circuses held outside the  Wits Great Hall. Photo: Nqobile Dludla

NO SUPPORT: SRC President Mcebo Dlamini says the Wits SRC does not support the DUT’s call to expel Jewish students. Photo: Nqobile Dludla

The Wits Student Representative Council (SRC) has said it refuses to support the Durban University of Technology (DUT) SRC’s call for the deregisteration of Jewish students.

In an interview with Wits Vuvuzela yesterday, Wits SRC president Mcebo Dlamini called the demand “ridiculous and stupid”.

The demand, made by DUT’s SRC and the Progressive Youth Alliance, called for “Jewish students, especially those who do not support the Palestinian struggle,” to deregister from the institution.

Dlamini, on behalf of the Wits SRC, said that all South Africans have the right to study and should be able to study anywhere they want.

“I could never support this initiative or cause. We, as an SRC, are for a South Africa for all who live in it. For all those who support Palestinians and for all those who are Jewish.”

He told Wits Vuvuzela that he was going to recommend to Mqondisi Duma, deputy secretary of the DUT SRC, that they retract their demand, “from one president to another”.

“This is the wrong call, you cannot deal with issues of racism generally,” he said. “It shows some leaders are lazy to think,” Dlamini told Wits Vuvuzela.

The DUT SRC was unavailable for comment at the time of publication but released a statement late Wednesday afternoon clarifying media reports of their demands. The statement says the DUT SRC believes the state of Israel is an “Apartheid, genocidal and terrorist State”. They said their demand was made in solidarity with the Palestinian people.

“… we demand that ANY Jewish, Muslim, Christian, even Atheist or any other that is funded by the Apartheid State of Israel and its institutions must not be students in DUT …,” read the statement. [READ THE FULL STATEMENT HERE]

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DUT’s SRC demand Jewish students be kicked out

The Durban University of Technology's SRC and the Progressive Youth Alliance have demanded that Jewish students be kicked out. Photo: Facebook

The Durban University of Technology’s SRC and the Progressive Youth Alliance have demanded that Jewish students be kicked out. Photo: Facebook

The Durban University of Technology’s (DUT) Student Representative Council (SRC)  and the Progressive Youth Alliance have demanded that Jewish students, especially those who support Israel, should be kicked out, Independent Online reported on Wednesday afternoon.

This also applies to students who are sponsored by the Israeli government. The demand was sent to university management and has shocked and angered Jewish organisations.

The university’s vice-chancellor, Prof Ahmed Bawa, responded by saying the demands are “outrageous, preposterous and a deep violation of our national Constitution and every human rights principle.”

SRC secretary Mqondisi Duma told Independent Online: “As the SRC, we had a meeting and analysed international politics. We took the decision that Jewish students, especially those who do not support the Palestinian struggle, should deregister.”

On Tuesday night, Natan Pollack, national chairman of the South African Union of Jewish Students, called the demand to kick out Jewish students from DUT “deplorable”.

“To discriminate against people because of their religious and political standpoint goes against freedom of speech,” he said.

Chairwoman of the South African Jewish Board of Deputies, Durban-based Mary Kluk, said she was “appalled” and said it was unacceptable such demands could be made in an academic institution.

 

 

OPINION: A slice of Passover – The holiday of exodus

SYMBOLIC: The “Seder” plate with the different signs representing the festival of Passover. Photo: Ilanit Chernick. 

Passover or Pesach is an annual festival celebrated by the Jewish community over 7 days in April. Wits Vuvuzela journalist Ilanit Chernick shares the experience of the festival as it happens in her home. 

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As the candles sparkle on the mantelpiece we gather around and admire their beauty.

The table is set, our best cutlery and crockery laid out in order of each course, each with an accompanying Hagada (the religious text) on top. An abundance of desert wine with a seemingly equal number of glasses stand in readiness for the traditional four helpings of this sweet alcoholic treat. Each helping signifies the different levels of redemption.

Some say, “It’s the perfect opportunity to get a little drunk”. But in actual fact this is a time for family and friends to come together, to learn, reflect and grow.

We renew our spirituality, our freedom and our remembrance of trying times.

It is Passover – a festival which celebrates the exodus of the Jewish people from Egypt. A tradition passed down for thousands of generations from father to son since that fateful period when the Jews were saved “by the hand of G-d (God)”.

Yet many people still question the strange and inspiring rituals the Jewish people uphold during the first two nights of this holiday period. We read from a book that talks of our history (the Hagada), churn what seems like hills of greens and horseradish in our mouths which are hard to the touch – never mind the tongue. We mix apples, nuts and wine to make a sweet paste which is spread on to the cardboard-looking thing called matzah (unleavened bread).

The seder (Hebrew word describing the order of events over the first two nights of Passover) is held as a way to teach generation after generation – young and old – of the miracles beseeched on the Jewish people during their time in slavery. It is a time to encourage the younger generation to ask questions about the historical significance of this night. The youngest at the table sings a tune in Hebrew asking “why this night is different from all other nights?” or “why on this night do we eat bitter herbs and matzah?”

[pullquote]”These words slip off our tongues like water on a hot day as we recall the story of our ancestors slavery.” [/pullquote]

Throughout this evening we examine the fascinating plate of insignia’s, talk of “the four  sons”, deliberately spill our glasses of wine as we listen to the 10 plagues and sing songs of freedom in Aramaic. These words slip off our tongues like water on a hot day as we recall the story of our ancestors’ slavery. We long for these words to come true – for the return of a time of comfort and redemption.

As the adults eat a meal filled with chicken soup and kneidelach (matza-balls), rich meats and cooling desserts, there are squeals of delight as the children search for the Afikoman (a small piece of matzah hidden to continue the process of ‘asking’). Prizes of lush chocolates or packets of coloured sweets are handed to the children for solving this little mystery. A process of bargaining, swapping and sharing treats takes place as we  proceed to eat the Afikoman.

One after the other, the children fall by the wayside on the couch or on pillows scattered on the floor as we end this night of extraordinary events with humourous songs. They prompt us to count or take us back to a time of old school plays we performed during this period of the year. We smile as we let the wine settle and sing-along to “Had Gad Ya”, a parable similar to that of the nursery rhyme “there was an old lady who swallowed a spider”. In our dazed state we make the sounds pertaining to each character and tease when anyone misses their cue.

Sooner than we’d hoped, the plague of darkness begins to settle upon the house as each of the lights go out one by one. A reminder that 1am has come and it is time for bed. As we walk our guests out we look up at the stars with awe – a blood moon has appeared – the same phenomenon which took place thousands of years ago on the night of our redemption.

Family

FAMILY TIME: The Chernick family gather together on Passover to recall our history.  Photo: Ilanit Chernick

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