The Cape SA Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) is appalled that an event where messages from Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) and Hamas were screened was allowed to take place at the UCT.
The event, held March 20 under the auspices of the Palestinian Solidarity Forum (PSF), featured messages from Nasser Abu Sharif, PIJ diplomatic representative in Iran and senior Iran-based Hamas official Khaled Qadomi.
We recognise that the UCT decision was made under considerable pressure of time, on account of the brazen failure of the hosting organisation – the Palestine Solidarity Forum – to give the mandatory (seven-day) speaker identity notification. The PSF consciously chose to sow disharmony and hate with its choice of speaker.
At the same time though we are disappointed that the university authorities chose not to heed our concerns, but rather to allow the screening to go ahead. PIJ has been designated as a terrorist organisation by many countries throughout the world, including the US, the EU, Japan, the UK and New Zealand.
Mr Sharif is on record as having not only incited violence against Israel, but of maligning Jews in the most egregious and racist terms.
Iran is a country associated with terrorism and human rights abuses, including the oppression of women. The Iranian regime actively pursues and calls for the violent destruction of Israel and propagates out-and-out hatred against all Jews.
This includes sponsoring and hosting conferences aimed at portraying the Holocaust as a myth invented by Jews as a tool in their supposed quest for world domination.
The SAJBD finds it bewildering that UCT has so palpably failed to stand by its Statement of Values, where a firm commitment is made to “build an equitable social order based on respect for human rights.”
Students look to institutions like UCT to provide platforms for learning, debate and engagement in meaningful, respectful discussions, free of discrimination, persecution or hate. The student bodies, SAUJS and PSF, had agreed to rules of engagement which UCT has neglected to enforce and allowed the PSF to breach.
On March 21, Human Rights Day, South Africans remember the atrocities of apartheid and commit themselves to building a society where such things are never allowed to happen again. Both apartheid and the Holocaust began with words of hate and incitement to violence.
Extremist organisations must never be allowed to spread their messages of hate and poison the minds of our youth.
We hope the university will rededicate itself to ensuring a campus that is both a bastion of freedom and a place of safety for all its students, of every kind and persuasion.
* Adrienne Jacobson, Cape SA Jewish Board of Deputies.
** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.