Israeli students arrive in South Africa

Johannesburg’s international airport was put on red alert after its National Key Point status
was activated this morning due to the expected arrival of a delegation from
Israel. Plans of the delegation’s local host, the South African Union of Jewish
Students, to welcome their Israeli “Hasbara” delegation were thwarted, with the
Israeli delegation arriving at OR Tambo International Airport amidst much

Last week, the South African Students Congress (SASCO) issued a communiqué to
its provincial branches urging “all students in all institutions of higher
learning across Gauteng to boycott any activity organised by these [Israeli]
agents. Any student who chooses to cooperate with the apartheid [Israel] regime
is an enemy of progress.”

Expecting that their arrival to Johannesburg would not be a welcome affair, the
Israeli delegation was forced to change their travel arrangements:

the expected welcoming committee had to be cancelled;

the airport was placed on high security alert, with the National Key Points Act
being activated;

members of the Israeli ’hasbara’ group had to be escorted through back
entrances and under disguises. None were able to walk freely into the public
area of the terminal sporting any Israeli paraphernalia.

SASCO and the Young Communist League, who had called for its members to be
present at the airport, creatively bypassed all the obstacles put in place to
limit any actions. SASCO had a 50 person strong team deployed from 06h00 at
strategic points in the arrivals terminal of the airport. SASCO members were
instructed to converge in pickets if the local hosts had made any attempts to
welcome their Israeli counterparts.

On hearing that the Israeli delegation had to “come in like spies,” SASCO and
YCL students rejoiced outside the international arrivals terminal. Joined by
students from Wits University and the University of Johannesburg, the group
simultaneously revealed red T-shirts (under their jackets) stencilled with
various bold messages, including “Israeli apartheid unwelcome!”; “Israeli war
criminals unwelcome!”; and “Israel guilty of war crimes”. They carried
hand-crafted posters with similar messages and chanted in celebration.

Themba Masondo, a student at Wits University addressed the crowd: “Today we
have made clear to these Israeli propagandists and indeed any supporters of
Israeli apartheid that this agenda is not welcome in South Africa. We will
protest. We will boycott. And we will call on our prosecuting authorities to
arrest those involved in Israeli war crimes. . . [W]e are many, our cause is
just and we will win.”

The visiting Israeli delegation advertises to be a group of students wanting to
dialogue, however the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Working Group (a
Johannesburg based organization) challenged this framing and revealed at a
press conference last week Thursday that most of the Israeli delegates were not
in fact students but part of an Israeli government trained PR group. For
example, they showed that two of the Israeli student delegates claiming to be
students worked at the Israeli parliament. One is a deputy spokesperson and
another is an official policy advisor.



2 responses to this post.

  1. Congratulations! Once again South Africans have shown themselves to be at the forefront of the struggle to oppose racism and oppression. This should not come as a surprise. The South African people — students, church men and women, political activists — understand the plight of the Palestinians and Israelis living under apartheid — that all are victims, that the society needs to be liberated from this evil. They understand as well that this will be accomplished only by persistent effort from the grassroots.

    It is time that the world does for Israel what the world, in solidarity with the South African churches and liberation movements, did for South Africa decades ago.



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