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Mon May 30 22:23:51 SAST 2016

'Expel all Jews' call withdrawn

Taschica Pillay and Siphiliselwe Makhanya | 13 February, 2015 01:17
"It's in violation of our values and principles. DUT does not discriminate against any person based on their race, religion, colour, ethnicity, sexual orientation or political affiliation. File photo
Image by: Gallo Images/Thinkstock

Durban University of Technology's Student Representative Council, which caused outrage with a call for Jewish students at the institution to be deregistered, has backtracked.

The council and the Progressive Youth Alliance wrote to the university's management on Tuesday demanding that Jewish students be deregistered.

The call was made a day after former Palestinian plane hijacker Leila Khaled visited the Durban campus. Khaled is being hosted by Boycott Divestment and Sanctions SA to raise funds for the Palestinian cause.

Jewish groups opposed her visit, saying Khaled was a symbol of "violent resistance".

The university's vice-chancellor Professor Ahmed Bawa said the call was " preposterous, unjust, unfair, unreasonable and unconstitutional".

"It's in violation of our values and principles. DUT does not discriminate against any person based on their race, religion, colour, ethnicity, sexual orientation or political affiliation.

"I have made it very clear to the student leaders that we will not agree to their demand," said Bawa.

SRC president Ayanda Ngidi said yesterday the call was to deregister "Zionists", whom he described as students who are being funded by the government of Israel, and not all Jewish students.

Alana Baranov, vice-president of the Council of KwaZulu-Natal Jewry, said the KZN council was appalled by the call.

"It is blatantly anti-Semitic," said Baranov.

The Jewish Board of Deputies will today hold a demonstration in Spin Street, Cape Town, in protest at Boycott Divestment and Sanctions S A's invitation to Khaled to visit South Africa.

"It is no coincidence that the student [deregistration] call came after Leila Khaled spoke at the DUT," said Mary Kluk, the board's chairman.

Natan Pollack, chairman of the SA Union of Jewish Students, said: "We are appalled by the SRC's statement. We believe that such a statement goes against our freedom of speech and right to freedom of association."

He said the union was a "proudly Zionist" organisation that believed students had the right to support any standpoint they wished without being subjected to discrimination.

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