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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

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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.”

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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  • Peter Joffe

    One of the facts of the world is that darkness has no power to block out the light. It is only light that has power to eradicate darkness. The light is always there but but darkness is not. The darkness of hatred against people cannot defeat the light.

  • Sonia

    Kol hakavod to the Stand With Us team of students for standing up to abuse and overcoming it! Desmond Tutu and all who spread lies about Israel need to be confronted with their lies about Israel. I grew up in the previous generation, under Apartheid – the thick of it – and opposed it. I also lived in Israel. Israel IS NOT AN APARTHEID STATE.

    I have not seen Tutu’s house, but the odds are that he has an ‘apartheid wall’ outside his house to prevent crime! Israel is allowed to protect her citizens from deliberately planned murders; in fact,she shouldn’t have to! At present she is building an expensive WALL AGAINST TUNNELS at Otef Aza. WHERE IS THE WORLD’S OUTCRY AGAINST THOSE WHO CONSTANTLY TRY TO KILL HER CIVILIANS, FORCING ISRAEL TO BUILD WALLS AND USE MISSILE DEFENCE?

  • Efram Paul

    Now if only students at Ivy League, California, and other US universities would do the same!

  • Lancelot Blackeburne

    About time there was an organized effort to stand up to these people. Confront them with a strong, disciplined resistance and they fade away beneath the rocks from which they emerged.

    There’s a lesson here. Perhaps the same tactics should be applied to the violent “antifash” mobs as well.