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10,000 read of Rhodes, BDS & IAW debacles

Ten thousand reads (over 76,163 mins) - that is the amount of traffic the eight-week-old SAJR Online website has garnered in five days from a single story gone viral. Granted, it is not every day that Rhodes tries to fire a Jewish staffer for being pro-Zionist & Gay, or that such staggering revelations about and BDS and Israel Apartheid Week emerge. But this week there is a lot more to report… READ ON
by ANT KATZ | Jan 08, 2014

If you haven’t read these stories, do so now!

SAJR Online’s stories about the goings-on at Rhodes University last week have had an unexpectedly large amount of coverage. The subject - or victim - of the story, Larissa Klazinga (pictured at left with her partner Charlene Donald), told SAJR Online today that she had never doubted that it would have such an impact. 

“I know that there have been a lot of waves at Rhodes, and in Grahamstown generally,” she told the Jewish Report today. “I am not surprised at all.”

While the impact and reach of the stories on social media channels are impossible to gauge, LARISSA’S TALE, the story she wrote in her own words for SAJR Online, was read 5,822 times in just four days. Not only that, but it enjoyed an incredible average read time of eight minutes and 11 seconds – a massive figure for a story on a news website.

Larissa & Charlene2RIGHT: Larissa & Charlene
protesting NO HATE

The website’s own story on Larissa’s episode and other goings-on at Rhodes,
RHODES PAYS DEARLY FOR ANTI-ZIONIST STAND, on SAJR Online has 3,622 reads over the same time with an average read time of almost seven minutes, while another associated story SAJR published at the same time, THE STORY THE BOARD DIDN’T WANT YOU TO READ was read 612 times with an average read time of just over six minutes.

This is 76,163 minutes (or 1,269 hours) of time users were on the site reading only these three stories and only over five days. The razzmatazz over these stories has not abated yet, if anything, it is increasing.

With up to 400 users coming on to the site per hour, reading these and other stories, posting comments, watching our ever-popular VIDEOS and checking our amazing digital and print archives, SAJR-Online had to take a decision to upgrade our server and broadband facilities for the fourth time in only eight weeks since its launch.

Related reads:


LARISSA’S TALE in her own words on SAJR Online




Tens of thousands have heard the parable

Apart from the thousands and thousands of users who have read the stories on the website, Jewish Report’s social media experts and Larissa herself say it has become a massive topic on Facebook too. And other media have also taken up the story.

SAJR on FACEBOOK has experienced a plethora of comments, the prize being from Jeanne Zaidel-Rudolph who posted two simple words: “Excellent exposé!”

Users were coming on at 400 per hour

So many users were on the website at a time over the past week – the highest recorded was 400 in one hour and 97 at one time – that the website experienced difficulties at times. So many comments were posted (all comments are moderated before publishing for obvious reasons) that the comments module is, at the time of writing, slightly unstable and not all comments that are approved to appear, are being displayed. 

Larissa & Charlene3Here are some highlights and lowlights of what SAJR Online users have had to say. The comments are shortened here and not all appear – to read all the comments go to
LARISSA’S TALE  and/or other featured stories on the topic.

VICTOR GORDON: You are an inspiration and unique example to all who stand for justice, sensibility and the upholding of the principles of democracy. Your fortitude in the face of such adversity in the interests of what you believe and cherish sets the benchmark of what should be expected from all of us who claim to have Israel's interests at heart. We are indeed blessed to have someone of your obvious courage and integrity within our ranks.

STAN HORWITZ: It is indeed with great sadness that I read this and other related articles.

SIPHO RADEBE: I feel no sympathy for you and there will no longer be tolerance for the support of the Apartheid state of Israel is a cowardly pariah state and shall be treated as such. Good bye.

JEFF BLOCH: Sipho - do you have any idea of the reality of the Israeli Palestinian situation? You sound either misinformed or gullible - which is it?

ALEX SEPTEMBER: Now you kinda know what a Muslim feels like on a daily basis. Sucks doesn't it?

FORMER RHODES STUDENT: Larissa's comments, attitude and general treatment of students in her res who were either a) Muslim (which I am not by the way) or b) disagreed with her views on Israel was shameful. People who disagreed with her were shamed, disrespected and bullied.

Rhodes scene2ANON: Jeff, You will never convince the anti- Israel/Zionist faction of the reality of the Arab Israeli conflict. People like Sipho, and I'm sure their numbers are growing, will soon say that if Jews in are so Zionistic, why don't they pack their bags, and go to Israel.

FORMER RHODES STUDENT: As a former Rhodes Student who lived in Larissa's residence, I can say without hesitation that this story is wildly overexaggerated and completely one sided [of course it is, it was an opinion piece written by Larissa herself – find the NEWS STORY here  -ED] . It's better for Rhodes and better for her residence that someone with so much anger and irrational hate has been removed. 

VOX POPULI: The right to life of Palestinian people must be the only right Larissa's not MILITANT about. Guess it's just not a priority. Judaism does not equal Zionism. NO to Zionism, Apartheid and Sharia… Yes to radical freedom.

DAVID ABEL: I think that for someone who was subjected to such sustained bigotry over a period of two years, Larissa's story was written with a self-restraint few of her detractors would have exercised. As far as "vox populi" is concerned, if the virulent tone of his/her "radical freedom" is currently widespread on campus then certainly something very disturbing is going on at Rhodes.

RHODIAN: Those who know the truth will know that … indeed, the fact that she was kept on for so long is evidence of the university's soft approach towards anyone seen as a minority.

ANOTHER RUTH FIRST STUDENT: In response to former "Former Rhodes Student" I get a sense that you were the kind of person who lived in res for a year then left. Yes Larissa had strong opinions but she encouraged others to develop their own and be able to back them up with fact. I think you saying that she hates Palestinians and Muslims is ridiculous. The warden of Victoria Mxenge house was Muslim and it was my impression that they were good friends. In response to "vox populi" I was in res when she was investigated … on completely bogus charges. People in res that year can confirm that we … supported Larissa. I've see her face homophobia first-hand at Rhodes and so have other people who were there at the same time as me.

Larissa & Charlene1The only reason that you have the opinion that Rhodes is a safe place for gay people is because Larissa worked hard to make sure gay students always had someone to turn to for help. I'm really sorry other students won't get the chance to have her as their warden. I'm shocked by this article and hope Rhodes gets a wake-up call.

FORMER COLLEAGUE: Whether or not one is a Zionist (and I am not), the way in which Larissa Klazinga has been treated by Rhodes University is a total disgrace! The events that have transpired make evident that academic freedom at the university is in jeopardy, and strongly suggest that the institution is being regulated and managed through an ethos of spying, threats and intolerance…. It is quite evidently a series of cooked-up-claims which would seem to be underpinned by homophobia. Rhodes conducted itself shamefully.

ARI: Your complaints are petty. Do you know how many universities in this place exclude or are unwilling to cater for us with particular disabilities? Or the fact that due to some courses require more equipment to make them accessible the uni just doesn't have, and makes the disabled student leave the course? Get over yourself, grow up and appreciate the fact you can study without worse barriers.

JOHN ST JOHN: Seems that finding out you're not part of the biggest victim group can indeed be heartwrenching, when you've built your career, sexuality, and life around that feeding trough identity. My heart would bleed, if I could summon even the smallest quantum of caring. I can't.

LEON REICH: The saddest part of this story is that Larissa - an eminently capable woman - now finds herself jobless. She is prepared to take work anywhere in the country and if anyone would like to make contact with her in this regard, feel free to e-mail me at: [email protected]


EDITOR’S NOTE – We are experiencing a tech difficulty and further posts (see below) are not displaying as at the time of writing. We hope they will be there by the time you wish to read them HERE!


FORMER RHODES STUDENT: Hey "Another Ruth First Student", it appears we were in res together then. To be clear, I loved Ruth First and was greatly involved in all aspects of res life while there for the TWO years I lived there. I loved the hall and many of the things Ruth First stood for. In fact I actively stood up for Larissa because those charges were really bogus. In my first year, I also deeply admired and respected Larissa.

However, that said, her Zionism and radical anti-Palestinian attitudes soon made me deeply uncomfortable and took away a lot of the joy of living in res. As you say, Larissa had very strong views and I'm sure as a former resident of Ruth First, you know that disagreeing with her meant a total isolation from the 'inner circle' as Larissa wielded her power very effectively in that sense. Yes, she taught students to stand up for themselves, but only if it was something she believed in. Those who she didn't believe in and who didn't believe in what she believed in, she mercilessly took down. Larissa had some good qualities for sure but I do believe her extremism got to her in the end and made life extremely uncomfortable for those who disagreed with her. 

ANON: "I didn’t ever think that it (being a zionist) was a controversial position, in fact, much like being “Proudly South African” it seemed like a no-brainer." - Larissa Klazinga

Comparing pro-Israeli zionism (or any form of zionism for that matter) to being "proudly south african", a no brainer? Seriously? The only way that would prove true would be if we were suddenly teleported back in time prior to 1994 in South Africa...  then she would definitely have a point. A no brainer indeed...


Larissa plagiarisedMail & Guardian

One particularly amusing anecdote is that of M&G THOUGHT-LEADER Gcobani Qambela who posted a blog titled “No love at Rhodes University?” which itself has had several thousand reads and numerous comments posted.

Gcobani kicks off with the widely used quote by Martin Niemöller that he says he loves: “First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out – because I was not a Socialist. Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out – because I was not a Trade Unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out – because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me — and there was no one left to speak for me.”

Gcobani Qambela continues that he was “reminded of this quote as I read Larissa Klazinga’s article in the SA Jewish Report titled: “Rhodes University: Not a Home for All”. I am not interested in much of Klazinga’s article per se but more the extent to which her story offers an important teachable moment about white masculinist racism, whiteness and privilege and how it is as harmful to white women as it is to black people.”

In essence, Gcobani is telling his readers that Larissa Klazinga’s story is one that is so similar to so many blacks in SA and “how it’s only when whiteness rejects them, that many white women start speaking out about exclusionary processes and silencing done by white men at predominantly white spaces like Rhodes.”

Larissa plagiariseHe goes on at length to reveal his own experiences. But, that aside, here is the anecdote-worthy parable.

Plagiarism of the worst kind

Enter an (apparent Israeli) blogger, STEPHEN DARORI, who lifts Gcobani Qambela’s piece off the M&G entirely, style and all, and publishes it under his OWN NAME the following day. No credit to Gcobani or the M&G. This is so scurrilous that the Jewish Report decided to visit Darori’s website on which he describes himself as the “developer of the Threshold Technolgy (sic) Curve Model” – whatever that may be.
On the day the Rhodes stories were published ChaiFM asked SAJR’s online editor to do an interview which can be heard here: PODCAST


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