Capetonians have reacted strongly in opposition to the Western Cape Education Department’s (WCED) visit to Israel, calling it ironic, disgraceful and unacceptable. The ANC’s shadow MEC for education in the Western Cape legislature, Khalid Sayed says that the claims the DA-run province is making cannot legitimise nor justify the trip and warns that if citizens in the Western Cape fail to monitor the Western Cape Government closely, they will find young people and students desensitised to oppression.
Last week the WCED became the topic of conversation on social media when department officials were seen posing for photos with Israeli soldiers. The WCED is being accused of sneaking in a trip to Israeli occupied Palestine after failing to announce the visit. The trip, according to a statement by the WCED, was hosted by the Cape Town Holocaust and Genocide Centre in partnership with Yad Vashem School of Holocaust Studies and hosted officials and teachers to address the moral and ethical ramifications of Holocaust and Genocide history while supposedly – quite paradoxically and hypocritically – addressing issues relating to prejudice and racism.
READ MORE | WCED slammed over trip to Israel
Unconvincingly, the statement included that “there is no ill intent or agenda” in the visit, but that “a learning opportunity” was presented for educators. However, the WCED has yet to clarify how or why it is appropriate or necessary to visit Israel, a country regularly condemned and accused of committing war crimes, human rights violations and consistently violating international law, in an effort to learn about issues such as oppression, racism and prejudice. Israeli soldiers are notorious for committing human rights violations and killing or maiming Palestinian children and non-combatants.
“To send educators from a country which has just been ravaged by racism to a state whose official policy is similar to that of Apartheid and racism is completely unacceptable… For them to go and pose with child killers, Israeli soldiers, is absolutely insensitive and absolutely unacceptable and it’s worrying that if we’re not careful in the next few years and don’t monitor closely, we’ll find our young people and learners will be desensitized to racism, colonialism and oppression.
While the global south and even the north are actually increasing in their intolerance of the Israeli state and beginning to highlight the human rights abuses, it’s worrying that over here, in the Western Cape, the contrary is happening. There’s a legitimisation of the Apartheid state and a desensitisation [of the oppression occurring there],” explained Sayed.
Sayed warned that the province, and particularly Cape Town, is becoming a hub for Zionists and the promotion of the Zionist agenda in South Africa since the DA gained control.
“It seems to me as if Cape Town and the Western Cape is starting to become a kind of a hub for the promotion of the Zionist agenda and it speaks to the Democratic Alliance’s ideological posture – which has always been pro-Israel. I’ve been doing oversight of the department for the past six months and I’m not surprised that they’ve taken this approach and gone to Israel, an oppressive state.
The WCED leadership cannot even comprehend and be sensitive to the violence taking place against young people in our own township schools in Manenberg and Hanover Park for example…there’s a literal insensitive approach toward education in the Western Cape and this trip speaks to that ideological posture and insensitivity.”
Sayed continued by saying that South Africa – and the Western Cape in particular – is always at risk of being held at ransom by the Zionist lobby and that South Africans, particularly those coming from disadvantaged and previously disadvantaged backgrounds, need to heighten their efforts to take control of their educational institutions and departments. He urged civil society to maintain pressure on the WCED regarding this issue and to ensure that there are repercussions.
“They know already that such a trip is not going to be supported by the people of the Western Cape…they must not come now and say it was purely educational and innocent.”