The University of Cape Town was recently host to a session of extremist Islamist propaganda, following a UCT Palestine Solidarity Forum (PSF) event which took place on campus two weeks ago. 

On 20 March 2023, the UCT PSF facilitated the delivery of electronic video messages from political representatives of Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) on UCT’s Upper Campus. Hamas and PIJ are internationally recognised terror organisations whose foundational charters espouse violence against Jews around the world. 

Members of the student body and PSF shamelessly hung Hezbollah and Hamas flags with images of military grade rifles on them in the Leslie Anne building at UCT. 

This intolerable act threatens the very foundation of South Africa’s constitution, which enshrines the protection of the human rights of all its citizens. The fact that UCT has failed to condemn the PSF for hosting representatives from Hamas is a grave affront to our democratic norms, when the Hamas Charter clearly states that “The Day of Judgment will not come until Muslims fight the Jews, when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say, ‘O Muslim, O servant of God, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him”.

It is unconscionable that an institution like UCT would remain silent following messages from Islamist extremists. No Jewish student can feel safe on a campus where fellow students would support and promote such hate speech, discrimination and racism towards those of the Jewish faith.   

The SAZF has filed a request for this incident to be investigated by the Office for Inclusivity and Change (OIC) at UCT. The OIC initially communicated that it had planned to meet with the Department of Student Affairs to discuss these concerns yesterday, but at 09:35 am this morning, was unable to provide any feedback regarding whether the meeting had in fact taken place. 

UCT’s failure to condemn these actions and investigate the PSF for inciting hate speech, will result in further action from the SAZF. The continued abuse of Jewish human rights cannot – and must not – be tolerated at UCT or any other institution in South Africa. 

Our universities should be places of rational debate and inclusive engagement, not hostile environments which encourage the dissemination of propaganda from extremist  organisations such as Hamas. Places of learning in South Africa must be clear on the dangers of incitement and hosting speakers who would call for the discrimination, annihilation and destruction of Jewish people, as a result of their beliefs.

Supporters of BDS have been convicted by the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) for antisemitism in previous years – this behaviour, without condemnation, can only result in further human rights violations in future.  

South African citizens should condemn the PSF for encouraging the discriminatory, racist and extremist political ideologies of Hamas and the oppressive regime of Iran on South African campuses. These groups pose a serious threat to the human rights of women and members of the LGBTIQA+ community as well.

We urge members of the public to join us in condemning this behaviour without reservation. UCT should not delay in doing the same. The SAZF will consider further legal action should the PSF not be held to account for their actions in this regard.