JOHANNESBURG UNIVERSITY: Joins academic boycott of Israel 24Mar11 March 25, 2011

IMEMC -  24 March 2011


One of South Africa’s most prominent universities has announced that it will cut all financial and academic ties with Israel’s largest university, Ben Gurion University, due to Ben Gurion University’s “collaboration with military, occupation and apartheid practices.”

The decision to join the academic boycott, which was called by Palestinian academics in 2005, came just one week after a group of academics from across South Africa published a report called “Findings on Ben-Gurion University of the Negev: Institutional Complicity and Active Collaboration with Israeli Military, Occupation and Apartheid Practices.”

The two universities had partnered in a water research project, and some Israeli critics have claimed that South Africa’s water quality will suffer as a result of the boycott.

But University of Johannesburg Deputy Vice Chancellor Adam Habib challenged that claim, saying, “There has been quite a lot of scare mongering that if the partnership breaks, South Africa will be confined to bad water quality. The quality of our water is suffering because we are not spending the type of money on cleaning water that we need to, and not employing skill sets required. We can deal with acid rain water in the region if we are prepared to spend money.”

The South African University joins hundreds of other universities, colleges, trade unions and churches worldwide, including South Africa’s largest trade union, COSATU, which have divested economically and boycotted Israeli institutions and companies involved in the military occupation of Palestinian land.

The boycott is aimed at pressuring Israel to adhere to its obligations under international law and past signed agreements, to end its occupation of Palestinian land, and to provide equal rights for Palestinians.

Organizers of the boycott have compared the movement to the anti-apartheid efforts of the 1970s and 80s, which eventually helped bring an end to the race-based political system in South Africa that discriminated against the indigenous African population to privilege the white minority that had immigrated there from Europe. South African activists have been at the forefront of the movement to boycott, divest from and sanction Israel for its discriminatory policies and practices toward Palestinians.


PRESS RELEASE:

South Africa’s Boycott Victory – UJ votes to end complicity with
Apartheid Israel

23 March 2011

A landmark victory was achieved today in South Africa for the
international boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign of
Apartheid Israel. Setting a worldwide precedent for the academic
boycott of Israel, the University of Johannesburg (UJ) has decided to
sever ties with Israel’s Ben-Gurion University (BGU).

In September 2010, UJ refused to continue its relationship with BGU
unless certain criteria were met within 6 months. This included a
requirement that a Palestinian university must be included in the
research relationship. BGU failed to meet this condition, as well as
the other criteria set by the Senate Resolution, owing to the
unanimous and principled support by all Palestinian universities to
refuse to entertain any links with BGU on the grounds of that
University’s complicity in Israeli apartheid.

Detailed evidence was placed before Senate showing clearly BGU’s
active restriction and violation of political and academic freedom;
its direct and deliberate collaboration with the Israeli Defence Force
(an occupying military force in flagrant violation of international
law); and its maintenance of policies and practices that further
entrench the discriminatory policies of the Israeli state.

Despite attempts by Israeli lobbyists to propose various compromised
positions in a last-ditch effort to salvage the relationship, UJ’s
Senate clearly decided today to uphold its previous Resolution
instead. UJ’s relationship with BGU will now terminate.

Senate members were vocal and eloquent in their support for an end to
the agreement.

The UJ campaign managed to gain the unprecedented support of over 400
South African academics, including 9 South African Vice-Chancellors
and Deputy Vice-Chancellors; 11 Deans and Vice Deans; 19 Heads of
Department; 175 University Professors and 125 Academic Doctorates.

Included in the list of supporters are some of South Africa’s leading
voices and anti-apartheid stalwarts: Professors Neville Alexander,
Kader Asmal, Allan Boesak, Breyten Breytenbach, John Dugard, Antjie
Krog, Rashida Manjoo, Barney Pityana and Sampie Terreblanche. South
Africa’s popular cartoonist Jonathan “Zapiro” Shapiro, Nobel Laureate
Desmond Tutu, Bishop Rubin Phillips, former Minister Ronnie Kasrils
and social activist Zackie Achmat also backed the campaign.

UJ has taken an important and historic step today demonstrating its
commitment to solidarity with the oppressed. Setting the precedent of
no “business as usual” with Israeli institutions, other South African
universities are expected to follow this lead.

Issued by the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Working Group (SA)

BDS WORKING GROUP (SOUTH AFRICA)
Office 908 | 9th Floor | Khotso House | 62 Marshall Street | Johannesburg
PO Box 2318 | Houghton | 2041 | Johannesburg
T: +27 (0) 84 2119988


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