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“The climactic face-off of the 2019 Israeli Apartheid Week at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg took place on a wide, sunny plaza, between a statue dedicated to the millions of anonymous miners who had toiled under inhuman conditions to enrich their white masters and build one of the most fundamentally unequal and oppressive societies on earth, and a tent selling gourmet miniature doughnuts. Here was a psycho-political map of today’s South Africa: a recent and cruel history facing the promise of a normal bourgeois existence, with a bunch of confused or angry or radicalized young people in the middle and the invisible majority busy doing something else.
Apartheid week crescendoed this past April with a shouting match between members of the Palestine Solidarity Committee and the South African Union of Jewish Students in which campus security eventually intervened. A photo of Israeli activist Ashager Araro facing down an irate PSCer captured the weirdness of the scene, with convulsive, finger-wagging anger directed at a young Israeli Ethiopian woman amid signs with pink hearts and the words UNITY WINS. “Classic Thursday,” a SAUJS supporter remarked to me, offering this verbal eye roll as matters escalated. IAW always ends like this.
The week-long anti-Israel event is almost never incident-free at Wits. In previous years, a microphone cable had been cut while an Arab speaker from Israel addressed a SAUJS counterevent. Pro-Palestine activists have goose-stepped past the SAUJS tent; last year’s furor was over PSC-sponsored posters of Anne Frank wearing a keffiyeh. Everyone seems to agree that the PSC went a little too far in hanging black mannequins from trees during IAW in 2016, but it’s not so great the rest of the year, either. In 2013, pro-BDS protesters disrupting a concert by an Israeli jazz group on campus broke into a rousing chorus of “Shoot the Jew.””
JJ Editor's Picks
"The top brass of China’s Communist Party (CCP) – its 370-strong Central Committee – recently emerged from the Fourth Plenum of the 2017 Party Congress. Such meetings, usually one a year, are key forums for policy discussion. At the previous..."
"Mayor Pete is having his moment — for the second time in the campaign. Surging to the head of the pack in a recent Iowa poll, and edging out Vice President Joe Biden in last quarter's money race, Buttigieg is staking his claim to being the..."
"careful reading of Walden; or, Life in the Woods makes it clear that Thoreau never intended his cabin to be a solitary hermitage, although fans and detractors alike often misunderstand this. It was more an author’s workshop than a fortress of..."
"In the fall of 2015, a rash of posters appeared around Copenhagen. One, in pink letters laid over an image of chicken eggs, asked, “Have you counted your eggs today?” A second — a blue-tinted close-up of human sperm — inquired, “Do they swim too..."
"While there’s plenty of disagreement about how the money should be used, almost everyone involved in public-policy debates agrees that it would be good if the federal government could collect more revenue without raising tax rates or reducing..."
"On a brisk November night, a solitary man wandered around the plaza outside the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts on the edge of downtown. He had just flown alone from New York to see his favorite comic, Louis C.K., and he had an extra..."
"Judaism has been described as many things: a culture, a people, a religion, a nationality, and more (including, according to answers given to the 2013 Pew survey of American Jews, a culinary disposition for bagels and smoked salmon or the..."
"US sex education is decades behind other countries. Right now, it isn’t even mandatory in every state. Add to that the awkwardness people feel about sex and bodies in general, top it with the idea of having to have these discussions in public..."