The University of Cape Town (IAW) was buzzing on Thursday with students gathering on Jameson Steps on upper campus to partake in an Israeli Apartheid Week rally organized by the UCT Palestinian Solidarity Forum (PSF). The rally hosted a number of speakers all there showing their support for the Palestine. The message was clear – Israel is an Apartheid state and they support a one state solution for Palestinian sovereignty.
The general feeling was that Israelis as well as Palestinians have the right to co-exist together in one country that is not separated by borders and in this case a wall.
The UCT Muslim Students Association (MSA) said this conflict is not a religious issue, but rather a human rights issue.
“As Muslims, we are obliged to stand against oppression therefore we would like to not that this conflict is not one of a religious issue, it is not Jews versus Muslims. We encourage everyone to read up on what is happening in Palestine,” explained Yasin Hassiem, spokesperson for the MSA.
On the other side of a fountain that separated the Palestinian supporters stood pro-Zionist students, who firmly believe Israel is not an apartheid state.
“It is sad, as a country that is coming out of apartheid we see people opposing a country (Israel) that stands with democracy and stands with supporting the Palestinian people,” said one of the supporters standing with an Israeli flag.
However, the organisers for PSF found it offensive that there was Zionist support on campus as they felt that Israel is the oppressor. Some said it was contradiction that these students were on campus during Israeli Apartheid Week, advocating for the right of Israel to exist.
No clashes broke out at the campus, but students did engage in lively debates with each other in order to bring their views across. Spokesperson for PSC at UCT, Ayesha Tape said that they feel content with the amount of support that they have had this year.
Other students remarked that the increase in support could be due to various other student protests that have been held since last year. They were of the opinion that university students are becoming more engaged in political issues at the campus.
Meanwhile on Friday afternoon at 3pm, Stellenbosch university will be hosting well-known Israeli academic Dr Uri Davis to speak about Israel’s occupation of Palestine, in a discussion with ANC member and Parliament speaker Baleka Mbete. VOC