Category Archives: University
In the wake of the Wits protest that took place on 28th August 2013 against the Daniel Zamir concert, many people across the world, Jews and non-Jews alike, were shocked when a number of BDS protestors and its’ affiliates sang “Dhubule iJuda” – in English, “Shoot the Jew.”
The song which is based on the Apartheid struggle song, “Shoot the Boer” was deemed as hate speech by Judge Collin Lamont in the Southern Gauteng High Court in September 2011. Judge Lamont made it clear that this song is racist, unethical and goes against “a number of local and international laws” that protect human dignity.
However, despite the blatant Anti-Semitism shown by these protestors, BDS South Africa’s Commander-in-Chief Muhammad Desai defended the song by stating that “the whole idea anti-Semitism is blown out of proportion.” Desai claimed that they did not literally mean “Jews” when the song was sung. Furthermore he stated that “just like you would say kill the Boer at [a] funeral during the eighties [and] it wasn’t about killing white people, it was used as a way of identifying with the apartheid regime.”
It was only after Desai’s defence of this Anti-Semitic song almost two days later that top BDS members began to distance themselves from this song; until then, not a word of condemnation was said by any BDS member or leader. Furthermore it took the BDS-SA movement five days to release a statement condemning this racist act. The lack of immediate condemnation and distancing makes it very clear that a large portion of BDS-SA is in-fact focused on, as SAJBD National Chair Mary Kluk said, inciting “hatred, and possibly even violence, against Jewish South Africans.”
The fact of the matter is; this incident has proven that in today’s day and age members of BDS and the like do not differentiate between Judaism and Zionism and moreover they are not taught to do so. In fact they are encouraged to see it all as one in the same – in both the members and their leader’s eyes. If members of BDS defend racial slurs like “Shoot the Jew”, then how much more so can we accept these slurs to start being accepted in society. It is clear that Anti-Semitism is blatantly back and it is rearing its’ ugly head through organizations that claim to be focused solely on Human Rights.
On a more positive note; reports that members of BDS who were planted in the Wits Great Hall to disrupt the concert were seen clapping, dancing and enjoying the concert together with the other 1100 patrons. The Daniel Zamir Concert can be described as a wonderful and inspiring event by all who attended. Daniel Zamir and his Jazz Quartet are known Peace Activists who, throughout the concert, continuously chanted “Peace, Love and Unity.” During the concert Zamir also called for “love of all humanity.”
The hustle and bustle between these four walls began to become mildly overwhelming. I could not believe I was back. Three and a half months of pure relaxation – well nearly any way – had got me use to “this worriless lifestyle.”
I wondered what fascinating things this year would bring. Last year was a little more eventful than I could handle but nonetheless I managed to actually get through the hardships by the skin of my teeth; basically unscathed. So in retrospect I knew that the time had come to tackle a new year and moreover, a new start. But I still wanted to moan and groan for the comfort of my bed.
Third Year… Final Year… One step away from having an actual degree under my belt… Yes… “Gosh, I hope so…” is all I can think of. As usual the small anxieties that come with knowing that the end is neigh definitely have a way of taking one by surprise when one least expects it. As day one continues to pulsate and I finally manage to gather my thoughts, get all my times, buy all my books and make my way out toward the parking lot; something catches my eye and distracts me. Something I would never expect, well not here anyway.
A young boy… his eyes gaunt with hunger scrounging through one of the dustbins just off the University campus, he has no shoes and his clothes are torn. He cannot be more than nine or ten. This site strikes a chord within me… Not again… This poverty – it’s everywhere; they stand by nearly every traffic light in Town. It is sad and disturbing. Out of nowhere anger begins to pulsate through me. Pain grips me, knowing that our “beloved” Head of States build a home with billions and this little boy and so many others cannot get a morsel of food. Live on less than a dollar a day. How degrading it must be to have to dig inside a dustbin just to find something. Anger strikes through me again.
Without thinking I run toward my car, speeding as fast as I can; the wind whipping through my hair. I promptly press the unlock button. “Where is it…? Where is it?” There…I see it! I see it! Excitement starts to flood through me. I pick it up and run toward the pedestrian gate as I see the boy walking away from the trash can with something small held tightly within his hand, as if life itself depends on it. I swipe my card and run out. “Hey! Hey!” I call. I run out toward him trying to grab his attention forgetting the many dangers that lie outside the University walls, “little boy! Wait…” I finally catch up to him. “Here – it’s all I have on me but I hope it helps.” I smile at him.
He snatches the chip packet and water hungrily and is about to turn away when suddenly a smile spreads across his face; completely changing his distorted bony features for just a minute. “Siabonga Sissie.” He says quietly and turns away. As I walk back towards the University gate I hear a loud shout, “Sissie…Sissie!” I turn around and feel a pair of arms grip my waist holding tightly, “Siabonga! Siabonga!” says the muffled voice. He lets go and hot, wet tears stream down my face. His beautiful smile rains down on me. “No cry Sissie… No cry!” He hugs me again and leaves me standing there mildly in shock.
I slowly let myself back into the University wishing I had more to give but relieved that I was able to help even a little bit. Grateful for the things I have… grateful for the fact that I am lucky enough, by the grace of G-d that I have hot meals every day, grateful for the roof over my head and grateful that I am being afforded the opportunity to have an education. A sense of guilt comes over me as I realize how often I take all the wonderful things that I am blessed with in my life for granted. Something that many of us, me included, are guilty of almost every day.
As I drive out of the university toward the main street, I catch a glimpse of the little boy with three or four children surrounding him. I have just a second to watch him hand out some chips and water to them with that stunning smile still plastered to his face. I am gobsmacked that this young man is so willing to give and share something so small with so many others so that they can share in this pleasure too.
It gets me thinking and makes me realize that we can all make a difference, no matter who we are or where we come from, each of us has a part to play in this world that we call “our own.” Moreover each of us has the ability to change a life even if it is just for a minute, an hour or a day – For one never can tell the rippling effect that may come out from doing just the smallest act of kindness.
I am happily back from my two month Hiatus. Before I began this project called a “blog,” I made a promise to myself that I would keep this up and running no matter what my schedule at university looked like…
Unfortunately I didn’t keep to that promise very well… As April rolled into May, the work load seemed to get heavier and heavier to the point where I even had to pull a few “all-nighters” (never again). In true fashion, the paper-pile grew higher and higher to the point where I couldn’t even see over my desk (that may be an exaggeration).
Well before I knew it Mid-Year Exams were upon me and I found myself frantically trying to remember all the dates of famous American Presidents, Wars and even trying to remember all the painstaking moments of the African-American struggle, from Slavery to Freedom – Something which seemed fairly familiar to me and my Jewish religion. Something we are reminded of every year during the Jewish Holiday of Passover.
Once History was over, I had to remind myself of the different Media Theories, Media Metaphors and Media Companies….definitely not the most enjoyable task and it was lucky I decided to take the time to review the “Media Metaphors” an hour before the exam… Need I say more?
From there we moved onto Psychology. At the time there was literally a 12 hour break between Media and Psychology and before that, there had been a Jewish Holiday. One of the laws, especially on this holiday, is that one should not technically look at Secular Studies…I had to get a special “Heter” or “permission-slip” which allowed me, just this once to learn for my two immanent exams. However on the first night of this holiday (the evening before we ‘receive’ the 10 Commandments once again) I was absolutely “forbidden to even touch the stuff,” and luckily I didn’t – but that is another story altogether.
So: from Freud to Vygotsky and then all the way to Klein and Bandura, I somehow managed wing-myself through certain parts of that exam by picking up not-so-obvious clues…if they were even clues…well time will tell!
Finally I ended off with my favourite Shakespeare, “Hamlet,” and my not so favourite “Titus Andronicus…” throw some Christopher Marlowe and some “Canterbury Tales” and you have an interesting English exam to contend with.
Marks still have not been released – Go Figure Wits – All I can say is that I’m here to stay and this time around I look forward to posting many more enthralling tales and inspirational thoughts. So stay tuned.