Imagine that you were totally into two things in your life: yoyos and figure skating. So there you are, one day, flipping through the channels when, lo and behold, you stumble across the world’s first ever yoyo-based ice dance. The graceful woman with the tight buns (in her hair, people, in her hair) leaps and twirls over a series of artfully-strung “around the worlds” and “rock the babies” perfectly executed by her partner in the tight pants. “Figure skating AND yoyos in one program?!” you exclaim. “What are the chances of that?”
That’s the kind of feeling I had the other day when I came across THIS article with the headline “Higher Education Transformation Network (HETN) labels Habib, Wits (Jewish) Puppets“. “Higher education AND Judaism?” I thought. “What are the chances of that?”
The gist of the article is that HETN believes that, by removing Mcebo Dlamini (he of “I love Hitler” and “I’m a Sisulu“-fame) from his position as chairperson of the university’s SRC, Adam Habib has capitulated to the evil machinations of the evil Jews who run the world with their evil money. And just in case not enough offence was caused by this awakening of the oldest antisemitic trope in the world, HETN throws in the following:
It would be unfortunate if Wits University management now has adopted ‘Gestapo-type’ management tactics of summarily expelling students and staff merely because they hold dissenting views…
I love the rhetorical reference to the Gestapo, the Nazi secret police, who formed an integral part of Hitler’s system of terror, slavery, murder, and genocide. “Yes,” the reader is clearly meant to contend. “That’s exactly what Habib and Wits are up to.” A regime determined to wipe out any part of society not deemed racially up-to-scratch? A university meting out consequences for an act of thuggery against a senior staff member by a student? Now there’s an analogy that sticks.
(Anyway, we’ve seen this before, HETN. BDS movements across the world love to remind their acolytes that the Jews have now become just as bad as the Nazis. It’s getting old.)
It’s clear that what lies at the root of this statement has to do with deeply entrenched issues, like race, privilege, nationalism and the need for transformation. But, for what it’s worth, here are some thoughts from a Jew who cares deeply about higher education (and yoyos and figure skating):
- You support a man who “loves Hitler”, but condemn Wits for its “Gestapo-type” management. Mixed metaphors, much?
- After the whole “Jewish funder” shtick, your statement goes on to condemn acts of racism on campuses that allegedly haven’t been followed up on. Couldn’t agree with you more. Root them out. Shame them. Punish them. Push universities to do that. Saying that Dlamini shouldn’t face consequences for his actions because other perpetrators haven’t faced consequences is counter-intuitive to your mandate of change. Rather, use your position to ensure that those who haven’t been brought to book face the consequences of their actions.
- IT’S NOT ONLY JEWS WHO DON’T LIKE HITLER. He killed 11 million people, among them Jehova’s Witnesses, Roma Gypsies, Catholic Priests and Christian Pastors, homosexuals, resistors, the disabled and citizens of countries the Nazis invaded. So, not that this is why he lost his position, but why this assumption that the only people who could have possibly taken offence to Dlamini’s Hitler statements are the Jews?
I wish HETN’s leadership would actually speak to Jewish people. Maybe then they would realise that we’re not all the same. We hold widely dissenting views and come at issues from angles that differ politically, ethically and intellectually.
You bunch us together as one, fixing the handy label of “Jewish money” on an issue that is so much more nuanced. If the labelsticks, it could cause untold harm to the Jews of South Africa, as it has to Jews again and again throughout history. If it doesn’t, the current transformation debates on campus will fester into destruction, hate and harm to people and properties. To get back to where we began, it seems to me that HETN’s skating on some seriously thin ice here.