The aftermath of last week’s bombing at Hebrew University in Jerusalem provided a potential breakthrough in interfaith relations at the University of Cape Town, as Muslim and Christian students joined a memorial service organized by a campus Jewish group.
Previous interactions between the Muslim and Jewish groups on campus have been marked by hostility.
In gestures meant as both signs of peace and recognition of the seven people killed and dozens wounded in the Jerusalem attack, arum lilies were scattered over part of the university’s Jameson Plaza, and white roses and daisies were handed out to passing students.
Students put up fliers and posters bearing the legends “Some people wake up in the morning, some people wake up to mourning,” and “Stand united as students against terrorism on our campuses.”
The campus chaplain, Rabbi Jonathan Shippel, called for a moment of silence at the service, then delivered an interdenominational message calling for union on campus so that terrorism and suffering should not hit students here. His call met with resounding cheers from the 300 students present.
Speaking at the gathering, first-year law student Jeremy Raizon, a spokesman for the South African Union of Jewish Students, said students “need to make our voices heard, to say that we are the future and we cannot tolerate any act of violence or terror.”
Afterwards, Raizon said Muslim students who approached SAUJS about attending the event had expressed concern about the possible stereotyping of Muslims as terrorists.
“We assured them that this would not happen and that this was about the rights of students, not Muslims or Jews,” he said.
“The fact that SAUJS included all students on campus in this campaign gave us the chance to enhance our relationship with the” university’s Islamic Society, “who approached us afterwards to say that they would like to work with us on functions such as these in the future,” Raizon said.
Raizon also was heartened by the “unbelievable” reaction of usually apathetic Jewish students, who turned out in full force, he said.
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.