Students from the Stellenbosch University Friends of Israel (SUIFI) group actively challenged the credibility of BDS (Boycott, Disinvest, Sanction) activists participating in the annual ‘Israel Apartheid Week (IAW)’ campaign at Stellenbosch University (SU) and the University of Cape Town last week.
Reporting on the “Battle for truth” about Israel on the two campuses last week, SUIFI member Vivienne Myburgh says the group was formed last year following several years of the annual IAW which was launched by BDS campaigners to influence students around the world to lobby for the boycotting of Israeli goods produced in the so-called West Bank territories, Judea and Samaria.
She writes: “Last year people in Stellenbosch felt led to form a society called Stellenbosch University Friends of Israel and it is now registered as a society. There has been wonderful interest with already more than 100 members who are keen to better understand more about Israel from both a biblical and a political perspective. Monthly meetings are held where speakers address students, movies are shown, etc. They were able to stand for Israel and God in the recent campus upheavals due to the Israel Apartheid Week and BDS campaigning.
“It is rather ironic as even Mahmoud Abbas, the leader of the PLO does not support the BDS campaign as it hurts the Palestinian people most. Both Soda Stream and Ahava products have recently pulled out of the area due to BDS pressure. This is sad as they employ hundreds of Palestinians who earn two to three times more from the Israeli businesses than that which their own people would pay them.
“The Israel Apartheid Week organisers make it their job to host people who hate Israel and who openly call for a one state solution, which they know means the end of Israel. (Resistance to Israel is actually a code word for the elimination of Israel)
“Campaign meetings were held every day of the week at UCT campus and a big protest was planned for last Thursday (March 10). Students from Stellenbosch went through to UCT campus and supported the Israeli students [three students from Stand With Us in Israel who came to SA for the IAW] who were there from Israel and also the Jewish student organisation on the campus [The SA Union of Jewish students set up an exhibition opposite a BDS exhibition and engaged with inquirers — and also faced some aggressive challenges from BDS supporters]. It was intense at times as debates raged between the two sides.
“The race issues on the campuses played a big role in the campaign this year, as the BDS organisers used the racial tensions for their cause, as they endeavoured to depict Israel as an apartheid state.
“A meeting was held on the Stellenbosch campus on Monday afternoon (March 7) where a young Palestinian spoke, amongst others. Basic facts about the Israeli situation were turned into twisted blatant lies and when their inaccuracies were questioned, the person who questioned was called ‘a white supremacist with a white view of history’, to loud applause.
“The week finally came to a close with a meeting on the Stellenbosch campus last Friday (March 11) afternoon with the Speaker of the Parliament, Baleka Mbete, speaking, and also Uri Davis, an academic who works for the Fatah movement, linked with the PLO.
“The meeting descended into chaos after a Jewish lady present called the speakers liars. The meeting disbanded without its planned objectives [of holding a question and answer time afterwards with the speaker and a senior ANC member present in support of their main objective of influencing the SA government to formally adopt a BDS campaign against Israel].
“We thank everyone who prayed for this last week’s meetings as we felt protected and uplifted and the BDS campaign did not achieve what they had set out to do.
“The battle for the truth around Israel will continue in the hearts and minds of the public as the media continue to report from a biased position against the only democracy in the Middle East where Arab human rights, press freedom and women’s rights are protected far more than in any other country in the Middle East.
“We will continue to defend Israel’s right to exist on the land promised to them by God according to the eternal covenant between God and Abraham and his descendants, (Genesis 15:8-18.)
“Any students who might be keen to find out more are welcome to contact me, (Vivienne Myburgh, 083 306 0009, firstname.lastname@example.org).
“Am Israel chai od avinu chai! The people of Israel live because our Father lives!”