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March 12, 2017 7:00 am

BDS Activists Absent From Final ‘Apartheid Week’ Events on South African Campus ‘Due to Strong Pro-Israel Presence,’ Advocacy Group Leader Says

avatar by Lea Speyer

Students at Wits seen gathering under a tent set up by Jewish and pro-Israel activists across from the abandoned apartheid wall on Friday. Photo: Gilad Kabilo.

Students at Wits seen gathering under a tent set up by Jewish and pro-Israel activists across from the abandoned “apartheid wall” on Friday. Photo: Gilad Kabilo.

Anti-Israel BDS activists at the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) in South Africa disappeared from campus on Friday — the last day of Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW) — as a result of a strong pro-Israel presence on campus, the head of an Israeli delegation to the event told The Algemeiner.

Gilad Kabilo, who led a group sponsored by education organization StandWithUs to Wits during IAW, said that BDS demonstrators were mainly absent on campus, and even canceled an end-of-event concert, due to “failure after failure they’ve had this week because of the strong response of Jews and pro-Israel allies standing against their message of hate.”

“We showed up Friday morning bright and early, just like we’ve done every day this week. It became obvious after a few hours that the BDS side wasn’t going to show up. Their signs and tents were gone and they completely abandoned their apartheid wall,” Kabilo said. “We were a bit surprised, but decided to go ahead with our events so that we could finish strong and not lose the edge we’ve maintained.”

Throughout last week, Kabilo said, the BDS movement at Wits “fell into our trap.” The peaceful yet forthright way in which pro-Israel students countered IAW activity “threw BDS demonstrators off balance,” he said, causing them to respond in ways that “expose their message of hate and their violent actions.”

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For example, as The Algemeiner reported, BDS activists reacted to a non-violent demonstration against a “die-in” by waving Hezbollah and Hamas flags. Others performed the Nazi salute while goose-stepping towards Jewish students.

“We’ve been able to disrupt their equilibrium,” Kabilo said. “And I believe this is what caused them not to show up on the last day of IAW.” 

Kabilo said that members of the Jewish community, both on and off campus, are demanding that administrators take action against the BDS activists. Between Thursday and Friday afternoon, he said, “More than 1,000 emails were sent to Wits management calling for repercussions against these incidents,” as part of a campaign organized, in part, by StandWithUs and the South African Union of Jewish Students (SAUJS).

“We are taking a stand and saying, ‘Enough,’” Kabilo said.

In a statement provided to South African news site the Daily Vox, Wits officials called the complaints received about IAW activity “internal student issues which are being managed by the dean of students in line with the university’s rules, policies and procedures.”

Watch a BDS demonstrator goose-step, while performing the Nazi salute in front of Jewish students at Wits:

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