S. African Council Seeks to Expel Jews

Students Representative Council at the Durban University of Technology demands administration kick out students who support Israel.

Elad Benari ,

Anti-Israel boycott movement (file)
Anti-Israel boycott movement (file)

A student council in a university in South Africa thinks that students who support Israel should be kicked out of the institution.

The Students Representative Council (SRC) at the Durban University of Technology (DUT) has made this demand to university administration, angering local Jewish organizations, according to the Daily News website.

The Secretary of the SRC, Mqondisi Duma, was quoted by the website as having said, “As the SRC, we had a meeting and analyzed international politics. We took the decision that Jewish students, especially those who do not support the Palestinian struggle, should deregister.”

The vice-chancellor of the university, Professor Ahmed Bawa, rejected the demand and said that it “is totally unacceptable”.

In a letter to students and faculty, he called the expulsion demand "outrageous and preposterous," and said it was “a deep violation of our National Constitution and every human rights principle.”

“No student at DUT will be discriminated against on the basis of religion, race, gender, political affiliation or sexual orientation,” Bawa wrote.

Jewish groups reacted with outrage, as Natan Pollack, the national chairman of the South African Union of Jewish Students, said the council’s suggestion was “deplorable”.

“To discriminate against people because of their religious and political standpoint goes against freedom of speech,” Pollack said, according to the Daily News.

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.

Anti-Israel sentiments have been prevalent for years in South Africa, which has frequently been critical of Israel and has claimed that it is applying a policy of “apartheid” towards Palestinian Arabs. In one incident, the former South African ambassador to Israel rejected a symbolic gift from the Israeli government, planting trees in his honor in a national park named after South Africa.

He explained that Israeli policies which, he claims, discriminate against Arabs appeared to be reminiscent of his experiences under South Africa's apartheid system.

South Africa's Foreign Minister has in the past slammed Israel's plans to build new homes in Jerusalem, saying she was “losing sleep” over the size of “Palestine”.

South Africa has also imposed rules requiring that goods imported from Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem display special labels.

The country’s president Jacob Zuma has voiced outrage over civilian deaths in Israel's campaign in Gaza, but has also distanced himself from calls to expel the Israeli ambassador from South Africa.

His party had previously compared Israel’s airstrikes on Gaza to the actions of the Nazis during World War II, evoking outrage from Jewish groups in the country.