MEDIA RELEASE: Audio recordings with evidence of ethinic racism by pro-Israeli organisations in S.Africa, Wits University complicit

Earlier today, the Wits University Palestine Solidarity Committee and BDS South Africa held a press conference to make available two audio recordings (find on YouTube: or email us for the .mp3 format) with  evidence of ethnic racial-profiling and background-checking practiced by pro-Israeli organisations in South Africa (which include the South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD), South African Zionist Federation (SAZF) and the controversial Jewish Community Security Organisation (CSO)). In the audio recordings, the organisers of the upcoming Daniel Zamir Israeli concert at Wits University in Johannesburg (scheduled to take place on Wednesday the 28th of August), admit that they make use of "background checks" and are trying to keep the event as a "Jewish only" event - even though the event has been advertised as being open to the general public. The hosting of Israel's Daniel Zamir at Wits University comes five months after another Israeli musical event at Wits University was protested and subsequently cancelled.
1. "Jewish-only" Event
When calling to purchase tickets for the Daniel Zamir Israeli concert a Wits University Political Studies student was asked by the organiser of the concert whether he and the people he intended to bring to the concert were all Jewish. Subsequently, the same student as well as another Wits University student called-back, this time with recording devices.

Wits University Student: "Are we making sure that this is a Jewish only event?"
Organiser of Daniel Zamir Israel concert: "Yes, it is"

Whilst the organisers of the Daniel Zamir Israeli concert at Wits University may claim that they are not against having "non-Jews" at the event, it is clear that they are taking measures to try to racially profile audience members.

There is no space for this sort of ethinic racial profiling and exclusionary events on our South African campuses, or in our larger society. Pro-Israeli organisations in South Africa seem to be emulating the Israeli regime that they promote. Just this week, for example, it was announced that the city of Tel Aviv has initiated segregated kindergartens and pre-schools, one for Israeli Jews and separate ones for Africans (see: Being exclusively "Jewish" (or exclusively Muslim or exclusively Christian) will --naturally-- exclude others. Its the exclusive and exclusion of a public event that we take issue with, not whether its practised by Jews, Muslims, Christians or any other ethnic group. This ethnic racism and ethnic racial profiling is what Israel practices against the indigenous Palestinians as well as Africans and it seems as if pro-Israeli organisations in South Africa are now importing this racism to our country.
2. Buying-out an entire public event so as to re-sell only to "Jews" or “safe others":
Tickets for the Daniel Zamir Israel concert, were originally on sale via, but, a week ago, the event was listed as "sold-out" and people were referred to the Beyachad (which are the headquarters of the two pro-Israeli organisations: the South African Jewish Board of Deputies and the South African Zionist Federation). The Beyachad, it turns out, had bought all the tickets for the entire event.

Wits University student inquires: "Why the event was advertised as sold out?”
Organiser of Daniel Zamir Israel concert: "It’s not sold out, what has happened is that we have bought out the tickets, the Beyachad have bought all the tickets, it’s not sold out at all."

Wits University Student: "Why did the Beyachad buy all the tickets?”
Organiser of Daniel Zamir Israel concert: "We do it for security reasons so that every person can be cleared."

Another organiser of the concert, during a separate recorded conversation, explains that the Beyachad  "has booked out the whole concert and every person who is attending will be checked-out and have background-checks before they are allowed access to the concert".
The Wits University Palestine Solidarity Committee and BDS South Africa maintain that this "buying-out" of the event is done so that the SA Jewish Board of Deputies and the SA Zionist Federation, can racially control who it allows into the event. The idea that the upcoming event (on Wednesday, August 28th 2013) is open to Wits University students, Wits University staff and to the public - as is claimed by the SA Jewish Board of Deputies (on its website) and by the SA Zionist Federation (in a recent Wits University Vuvuzela Newspaper article) - is simply false. The claim on the website of the South African Jewish Board of Deputies that: "The concert...represents an important public demonstration of the right to freedom of expression on our university campuses" is hypocritical and deceptive.
3. Carrying out background-checks and clearances through a controversial "security" organisation
In the second conversation and audio recording, a female concert organiser admits that the Jewish CSO, a controversial security organization (see:, which has criminal charges laid against it, has been delegated the responsibility of carrying out the background checks.

In 2009, incidents of racist treatment by the CSO, took place at another pro-Israeli event hosted at Wits University. The incidents of racism in 2009 resulted in the 2009 Budlender Report. Following an independent investigation by respected human rights advocate, Geoff Budlender, a report was released on the 26th of November 2009 wherein it confirmed acts of racial profiling by a pro-Israeli conference and its private security (the Jewish CSO).  The report quotes numerous factual accounts of  racial treatment and the trauma experienced. One Wits University staff member stated that the conduct of a CSO security official “made [her] think of the apartheid days”.
This Israeli concert is being organised with the endorsement of Wits University's Principal, Professor Adam Habib, and the Management of Wits University. According to the Wits Vuvuzela Newspaper, Professor Adam Habib has said that Wits University is arranging for this Israeli musician to perform at the university to make up for a previous Israeli concert that was disrupted in March (see: Earlier this year, Professor Habib admitted that indeed, Wits University has come under financial "pressure from donors who support Israel," and that, "there have indeed been some individuals who have threatened to withdraw their donations."  Professor Habib responded, at that time, stating that Wits University "will not be threatened or cajoled by 'cheque-book diplomacy'." It seems as if Professor Adam Habib and the Wits University Management has either capitulated to the Israeli lobby and its use of "cheque-book diplomacy" or were always in support of the Israeli lobby, perhaps, for the Israeli-lobby's "cheque-book diplomacy".

The Wits University's Students Representative Council (SRC) has sent a letter to Wits University's Principal, Professor Adam Habib, making it clear to Wits University's Management that the inviting or hosting of Israeli events at Wits university is in violation of the Wits SRC's 2012 boycott of Israel resolution. However, according to the Wits University's Vuvuzela Newspaper, Professor Adam Habib has said that even though the Wits SRC was chosen to represent students, they do not represent the student body on all issues. Habib said if he listened to everything the SRC had to say, his role as a University Principal would mean nothing: “They would just tell me what to do.”  (see: The Wits SRC is the elected representative of the students and the University Principal should be taking his/her direction from that body. The University Principal, out of all people, should know that democracy must be protected and respected. This sort of undemocratic attitude toward elected officers is worrying.
1. Call on the Wits University Principal, Professor Adam Habib and the Wits University Management to cancel the upcoming Israeli event scheduled to take place at Wits University's Great Hall on Wednesday the 28th of August due to:
a) The event violating the Wits SRC's boycott of Israel resolution; and,
b) The evidence provided today of ethinic racism and racial profiling associated with the event.
2. Demand that Wits University must distance itself from, and not partner with, either the South African Jewish Board of Deputies, the South African Zionist Federation or the Jewish CSO. Anything less can only but be interpreted as if Wits University has endorsed the racial profiling and background-checks carried out by these organizations.
3. Failing the cancellation of the event we call on all peace-loving members of the public to join us in a non-violent and peaceful protest that will be held at Wits University's Great Hall in Johannesburg from 18h30 outside of the event on Wednesday the 28th of August. The protest will be against the racism of the South African Jewish Board of Deputies and the South African Zionist Federation and in solidarity with the Palestinian people and their call for a boycott of Israel until Israel meets its obligations under international law. As of this morning at 8am, Wits University staff submitted a letter notifying the university of this protest.

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