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SA: Statement by Boycott Divestment and Sanctions South Africa, anti-Israel Campaign, students disrupt Israeli performance at Wits University (13/03/2013)

13th March 2013

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Last night, 15 minutes into what was going to be a 90-minute scheduled concert by Israel's Yossi Reshef, Wits University students stormed the concert venue, disrupted Reshef's performance and as a result forced the organizers to cancel the event. The cancellation was celebrated by the protesting students as a "cultural boycott of Israel success".
 
Kenneth Mgaga, a politics student who was present at the protest, explains: "The Reshef performance, which was funded by the Israeli Embassy in Pretoria, was a clear violation of the cultural boycott of Israel. In weeks prior to the concert, our Student Representative Council (SRC), had repeatedly raised this concern with the organizers as well as relevant university authorities. However, neither the organizers nor the University Management responded to our SRC's letters. Thus students embarked on last night's protest action, to much success."

In August 2012, the Wits University Student Representative Council (Wits SRC) became the first South African SRC to adopt a full academic and cultural boycott of Israel (see: www.bdssouthafrica.com/2011/08/university-of-witwatersrand-student.html).

Reshef's one-week visit to South Africa coincides with the 9th international Israeli Apartheid Week campaign (http://tinyurl.com/ao2bgyrtinyurl.com/ao2bgyr) currently underway at South African campuses. On Monday night, Reshef's performance was protested by over 45 Rhodes University academics and students in Grahamstown.

Mgaga further comments: "The hosting of Reshef in South Africa is a direct attempt to undermine the Israeli Apartheid Week campaign. Last year the Israeli government sent Israeli "Public Relation envoys" to our campuses during Israeli Apartheid Week to 'educate' us (see: http://tinyurl.com/ch4wlrm). This year they've decided on a different approach, either way, we stand firm in our solidarity with the Palestinians against Israel and its apartheid policies."

Various calls have been made for the protest and boycott of Reshef, including one by the ANC Youth League. Abner Mosase, the International Relations Secretary of the ANC YL said in a statement: "[W]e condemn the coming of the Israeli pianist Yossi Reshef at Wits University and other parts of the country who is clearly sponsored by the Israeli government. We call on all students to boycott the concert as it only seeks to normalise apartheid Israel. No one must be seen singing with [Israeli] apartheid, particularly in South Africa where we have seen what apartheid policies can do." (Find the full ANC YL statement here: http://tinyurl.com/c9p8755tinyurl.com/c9p8755)

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