StandWithUs South Africa

South Africa is ground zero for the BDS movement. Many of the BDS movement’s central tenets were written in the 2003 Durban Conference, and much of the language used against Israel by BDS, including the term “Israel Apartheid Week” is borrowed for South Africa’s painful history under Apartheid. South Africa’s government has been outspoken in its criticism of Israel and support of a boycott.

These sentiments have trickled down to South African college campuses, which have know volatile, even violent times regardless of BDS. These campuses, especially in Johannesburg and Cape Town, host some of the most hateful and violent “Israel Apartheid Weeks” in the world.

Opposing them and standing in support of Israel are a small number of Jewish students and pro-Israel allies on campus, who fight not only on Israel’s behalf, but against hatred and demonization of Jews. They do so in campus environment that ranges from apathetic to hateful, all culminating in the “Israel Apartheid Week” (IAW) events that take place every March.

StandWithUs offered much needed support before and during IAW in the form a delegation of the best and brightest of StandWithUs Alumni. The delegates, who have completed StandWithUs’ year-long Israel Fellowship, a leading public diplomacy program,come to South African campuses and directly engage students and faculty about Israel. Their first-hand experience, personal stories and outreach skills offer a valuable asset to the small pro-Israel community on campus, and serve and a force multiplier against the hateful BDS campaign. The delegates take part in planning and executing the pro-Israel campaign on campus, engage in outreach

Wendy Khan, National Director of the South African Board of Jewish Deputies, writes:

“They knew when to engage and when not, they knew when to enter conversations and when to move away. They listened and responded with such skill.

Each one brought different talents and skills to the interactions.

They worked so hard to make sure their narrative was heard and that our students were supported.

Watching them in action was a true privilege. It is not often that foreign guests are able to relate to our context so well.

Unfortunately in the noise of the moment, it is the ugliness that is of most interest – the antisemitic incidents and the hate. What isn’t noticed as much are the exceptional conversations and engagements. I witnessed these meaningful interactions.”

StandWithUs is proud to work with The South African Union of Jewish Students and the South African Board of Jewish Deputies in combatting hate and antisemitism in South Africa.