February 11th, the anniversary of the day when Nelson Mandela achieved his freedom and ushered South Africans toward a non racial future, will now be remembered by Jews the world over as the day a South African University demanded the expulsion of its Jewish students.
Earlier today, South African media outlets began reporting on the demands by The Durban University of Technology students to force the deregistration of Jews, and especially those who do not support the Palestinian cause.
Durban, a coastal city on the warm Indian Ocean, will be remembered by many as being the city in 2001 that hosted the World Conference Against Racism. A conference boycotted by the United States ironically because of its “ugly displays of racism and anti-Semitism.” Because its singular goal was to equate Zionism with racism and because its focus was Israel and Israel alone.
As a South African I am ashamed. As a Jew I am mortified, and as a father and a husband, I wonder for how much longer I can pretend that my family of Jews are welcome in this beautiful country.
This week saw the Minister of Home Affairs Malusi Gigaba arms outstretched welcoming Laila Khalid, a sworn enemy of the Jews. A woman who sanctions and praises the murder of children because they are Jewish children. A woman who rejects negotiation and dialogue in favour of bloodshed. A woman undeserving of anything but scorn but one nevertheless that has been invited to the President’s State of the Nation Address.
I am ashamed. I am mortified and I am truly afraid.
But sadly, I am not surprised.
The children of the Durban University of Technology who have demanded that Jews be removed from the university are doing what children do. They are mimicking and emulating the behavior of their parents. They are following the examples that they have been shown. They are doing what their parents do and not what they say.
Our children have been told that it is acceptable to hate Jews if they are Zionists. Because we can get away with it then. But children aren’t fooled, they see things for what they are, and the children of this University have removed the veneer and revealed the reality that there is a hatred for Jews simply because they are Jewish.
Because racism and prejudice is alive and well in South Africa. And although we have worked so hard to eradicate it from our midst, we have clearly failed. We have failed tragically. It’s blight on us all and it is heart breaking.
Today I am ashamed of being a South African. I weep for what the country has become and I pray to God for all of our future.