04 March 2015 Politics Web
Natan Pollack - Wendy Kahn
Yesterday, UJ students experienced at first hand the bullying, intolerant tactics of the BDS movement when a lecture by Palestinian human rights activist Bassim Eid had to be discontinued. Students wearing BDS and PSF tshirts barged into the venue and proceeded to interrupt the speaker, refusing to allow him to continue his address and calling him “a liar and a sell-out”. Audience members were intimidated and the speaker was threatened with a finger to his face, at which point he was evacuated by campus security.
The speaker was escorted to a waiting car with two of the BDS members following in an intimidatory and threatening manner. SA Union of Jewish (SAUJS) National Chairperson Natan Pollock said that he feared for their safety.
This was not the first time that BDS, determined that no dissenting voices on the Israel-Palestine issue other than its own be heard, has interfered with the right to freedom of expression of others. Similar thuggish displays have occurred on other university campuses, including Wits. The event was organized by the SA Union of Jewish Students as part of their programme to debate and find possible solutions to the Palestinian Israeli conflict. BDS, however, has no desire for civilised debate to take place on this question.
The actions by BDS supporters has no place in an academic environment dedicated to dialogue and the free exchange of ideas, nor does it have any place in South African society, where the values of academic freedom and freedom of expression are cherished and constitutionally protected. It is especially telling that BDS disrupted a speech by a Palestinian human rights activist that was sharing his experiences and thoughts for peace, making it evident that peace is less on their agenda than is forcing others to abide by their intolerant agenda.
BDS's Israel Apartheid Week campaign is nothing more than an excuse to exercise hate. This is the latest in a long string of antisemitic incidents that have occurred over the years during “Israel Apartheid Week.
The SAJBD and SAUJS unequivocally condemn this violent display of intolerance and call on the University of Johannesburg to respond decisively to these acts of thuggery in the same manner that Wits and DUT have responded to issues of this nature in the past. A meeting with the University will be held shortly to discuss this incident.
Spokesperson: Natan Pollack, National Chairperson, SA Union of Jewish Students 0768631766
Issued by: Wendy Kahn, National Director, SA Jewish Board of Deputies 082 4443675
Issued on 11/03/15