On Tuesday night, it emerged that graffiti saying “fuck the Jews” and “kill a Jew” had been found at Wits University. The university and student groups spoke out against the graffiti.
— Doron Isaacs (@doronisaacs) November 1, 2016
In a statement released on Facebook, the South African Union of Jewish Students (SAUJS) expressed anger over the anti-Semitic remarks spray-painted on campus.
Gabi Zollman, incoming SAUJS spokesperson, told The Daily Vox that there is no justification of these “hateful acts”.
“If you consider the graffiti and the past events we’ve seen in the past two weeks, this is causing a lot of concern. We hope that this is not the general feeling, we hope that these events will not occur in the future,” said Zollman.
Zollman was referring to another incident where a Jewish student was confronted with anti-Semitic remarks on Wits main campus two weeks ago. He would not be drawn on the details of the incident.
When asked whether she knew of these allegations, Wits SRC secretary general, Fasiha Hassan said that she had not heard of the incident but, “if there are such issues we encourage those students to go to legal office. We must allow the democratic process to take its course, if anybody has been saying anything anti-Semitic they must be reported and they must have an investigation”.
Hassan also condemned the graffiti and denied SRC involvement, despite anti-Semitic statements made by ex-SRC leader, Mcebo Dlamini last year.
“I don’t think there is a formal link necessarily. There is a new SRC every year and this SRC that is currently sitting is not the of former members who claimed to admire the leadership style,” she said.
She also said the student movement has always been intersectional and has always taken a stance against racism, anti-Semitism and patriarchy.
Hassan said the SRC were concerned about the safety of all students and that any Jewish students who may be concerned for their safety must “also be concerned about the safety of black lives on campus. Especially with the levels of police brutality”.
“As SRC, we will always do everything in our power to protect our students regardless of their religious inclinations, regardless of where they stand. But we must also apply consistency here and I think there’s never been a legitimate cause for concern for Jewish students,” said Hassan.
Chairman of the Palestine Solidarity Committee (PSC) at Wits, Rashaad Yusuf Dadoo, said the anti-Semitic graffiti was “obviously wrong”.
“The PSC has been outspoken against anti-Semitism and we condemn all forms of it; we also have practising Jews who are part of the PSC” he said.
The university also condemned the “offensive messages” and confirmed the graffiti had been removed.
Spokesperson Shirona Patel said that the university deeply regrets the insult that the act may cause to to members of the Wits community. “This graffiti runs contrary to the University’s values of tolerance and respect and the behaviour that we expect from members of the Wits community. We strongly urge the perpetrators to desist from this offensive and hurtful behaviour. Should we identify any of the perpetrators, they will be held accountable for their actions.”
She asked anyone with information about the incident to report it to Campus Control.