Photo Credit: Erin Dodo's Facebook
Erin Dodo, Chairperson of the Western Cape branch of the South African Union of Jewish Students.

Erin Dodo, Chairperson of the Western Cape branch of the South African Union of Jewish Students, on Thursday published an op-ed titled, “To Jewish students in the US – we get it!”

Addressing her fellow Jewish students in the United States, Dodo wrote, “As a South African student navigating the complexities of maintaining a proud Jewish identity in a landscape so charged with hate, misrepresentation, and misunderstanding, I find myself compelled to reach out to you and let you know that I feel your hurt, I understand your confusion and disillusion. I feel your horror at the apathy of your university executives while the actions of their students go so desperately against their codes of conduct, it couldn’t be more obvious if it were written in neon lights across the campus skyline.”


Dodo recalled an event in early 2024 when she sat around a table with students from across the US, including Columbia, Yale, and George Washington University, “and I explained what Israeli Apartheid Week looked like on South African university campuses.”

“They looked at me in horror as I explained what happens on my campus every year, and with sincere concern when I explained the attempts that were being made to bring about a full academic boycott of Israel at the University of Cape Town,” she continued.

 And then, “Not even two months later, these same students find themselves all too familiar with the situation that South African students have been navigating for years – a silent, or simply disinterested – university body, unmoved by the blatantly obvious fear of Jewish students, more concerned about public relations than the safety of students.”

At which point this young Jewish woman might as well have been channeling a Hasidic Rebbe, when she wrote, and my heart sprang with love for her and our fellow Jewish brothers and sisters in the diaspora:

“Here’s the thing about being Jewish: my pain is yours, and yours is mine. There exists something so incredibly rare in the Jewish community, and that’s a closeness that has arisen out of generations of survival and endurance. This means that while I watch the events unfolding on campuses across America, I cannot help but imagine myself in your shoes. Having said that, there are also experiences you are having to encounter that I have never had to, such as being barred from entering lectures or even entering campus grounds, and I truly cannot imagine how that must feel, how hurtful and unbelievably painful that must be.”

And then she brought me to tears with her conclusion:

“More than anything, I want you to know that I’m proud of you for having the strength to continue. You belong on your campuses as much as anyone, don’t let anyone convince you otherwise.
“As we reflect on 79 years since the Shoah, let the memories of our ancestors be your guiding light.
“Mir veln zey iberlebn (We will outlive them).”

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