February 13, 2015
Professor Ahmed Bawa
Durban University of Technology
Dear Mr. Vice Chancellor,
As you may know, ADL is a 101 year-year old US-based organization dedicated to combating anti-Semitism, hatred and bigotry of all kinds.
We were shocked to learn that earlier this week the Student Representative Council (SRC) at the Durban University of Technology (DUT) issued a statement demanding that Jewish DUT students, especially those who support Israel, should be expelled from the University.
This statement targeting Jews who are students at DUT is blatantly anti-Semitic and promotes an atmosphere of hostility towards DUT’s Jewish and pro-Israel students. For the vast majority of Jews, Zionism and support for Israel is an integral part of their Jewish identity. Demanding that any student be expelled because of their religious beliefs or political views is counter to every academic value and democratic principle of the university system and South African Republic. It is, in your own words, “outrageous, preposterous and a deep violation of our National Constitution and every human rights principle.”
The SRC’s subsequent effort to “clarify” their initial statement was equally offensive. Their use of the terms “apartheid, genocidal and terrorist” to describe Israel, and repeated demand that pro-Israel students be expelled, only further reinforced the perception that SRC representatives harbor strong prejudices towards their fellow Jewish students.
While your condemnation and rejection of the original SRC statement was an important and necessary step in addressing this outrage, it is far from sufficient. The natural result of your accurate description of the SRC’s odious expressions is those students must be held accountable. There must be real and severe consequences for students who engage in hate speech and racism. We have been informed that the SRC’s actions have created a university-wide atmosphere hostile towards Jews and supporters of Israel, and there are reports that students are being threatened and intimidated by supporters of the SRC’s views.
In order to restore a sense of calm and security among DUT’s Jewish and pro-Israel students, we believe the University administration should take immediate and
concrete disciplinary measures against those SRC representatives responsible for expressing the anti-Semitic demands and committing “a deep violation of our National Constitution and every human rights principle.” Failing to do so would send the message that DUT is indifferent towards anti-Semitism and hate-filled intimidation directed towards a specific group of students, something which would undoubtedly further inflame the anti-Jewish hostility reflected in the SRC’s statements.
We strongly urge you to act quickly to address this pressing matter.
Abraham H. Foxman