Press release – The Muslim Student Association (MSA) as well as various individual members and representatives of the MSA have recently received invitations from the South African Union of Jewish Students (SAUJS) to attend the “Muslim-Jewish Conference” to be held in Bratslava, Slovakia on 8 – 15 July 2012.
The conference is billed as an inter-cultural, inter-religious conference hosted by a number of organizations and individuals. One of the members of the board of the conference is Rafi Elul, advisor to the President of Israel and former member of the Israeli Parliament. According to SAUJS, six South Africans have been invited to the conference – three SAUJS representatives and three representatives of a Muslim student organization.
After much deliberation the MSA has taken a decision not to send delegates to or to participate in this conference. We are concerned about being associated with an organization that has links to Zionists, such as Mr. Elul. We are also concerned about the fact that the invitation came through a Zionist organization such as SAUJS.
MSA realizes the importance of and advocates for healthy inter-religious relationships based on the desire to establish justice and oppose injustice, colonialism and imperialism. The MSA is thus willing to engage and cooperate with any faith-based, or other, organizations that support the goals of justice and wish to collaborate in fighting injustice. We refuse to cooperate with any organization that supports injustice, racism and colonialism. We support the objective of the conference to create unity and improve ties between religious communities. However, we believe that such relationships can only be forged on the basis of a just struggle for liberation and the freedom of all people.
SAUJS is neither an organization that promotes true inter-religious engagement nor is it an organization that supports our objectives of justice and liberation from imperialism and colonialism. Indeed, and this is entrenched in their constitution, SAUJS supports Zionism and advocates for a state which practices colonialism and Apartheid; that state being Israel. As long as SAUJS supports Israel, MSA refuses to cooperate or have any affiliation with SAUJS on any project or activity – whether conferences, sporting events or any other events.
As the MSA we have to take caution when attending inter-religious dialogues and conferences for these platforms are often used for political objectives. Dialogue is argued to be a non-aggressive, peaceful interaction between two groups of people on a supposedly equal platform, and in this case these groups are Jewish and Muslim youth. While this is appealing at face value, when talking and engaging with Zionists, the platforms are never equal. These platforms seek to legitimize the Zionist agenda and we will not allow our religious affiliation to assist this unjust political aim.
In this spirit, the MSA will not accept this invitation and calls on all Muslim students that might be approached by SAUJS to firmly reject the invitation and to reject any joint activity or collaboration with SAUJS.