UJ senate decision on ties with Israeli university

|

Palestine Solidarity Committee (PSC) and PACBI | 5 October 2010 |

Following massive mobilisation among South African academics, the senate of the University of Johannesburg voted today ’not to continue a long-standing relationship with Ben Gurion University (BGU) in Israel in its present form and has set conditions for the relationship to continue.’

The PSC welcomes the commitment of the UJ senate to be in ’solidarity with all oppressed people’. Its decision – and, more especially, the massive support given to the petition calling for the ties between UJ and BGU to be severed – should put Israeli apologists in South Africa on notice that the campaign for an academic boycott of Israeli institutions has begun in earnest in this country.
Cooperation between BGU and UJ had begun in the 1980s (when UJ was an apartheid institution called the Rand Afrikaans Universiteit – RAU), and was recently encapsulated in a memorandum of agreement between the universities. While such relationships between the two apartheid states and their institutions was common before 1994, they have no place in our post-apartheid society.
The conditions for UJ renewing its cooperation with BGU were:

* That the MOU between BGU and UJ be amended to include Palestinian universities – which will be chosen with UJ’s involvement.

* That UJ will not be involved in any activities with BGU that have ’direct or indirect military implications’. (In its statement, UJ acknowledged that BGU had a relationship with the Israeli Occupation Forces.)

* That BGU respects UJ’s duty to take all allegations against BGU seriously. And

* That BGU supplies UJ with information regarding the former’s ’formal policies and informal practices’.

If BGU is unable to fulfil these conditions within six months, UJ’s senate said, the MOU will lapse on 1 April 2011. We are convinced that BGU will not be able to meet these conditions because it cannot extricate itself from its apartheid culture and practice. The lapsing of this deal with a university that unashamedly supports racism, apartheid, occupation and colonialism will signal South African academia’s refusal to deal with institutions whose very ethos violates the human rights, justice, and equality that South Africans fought for. It will also highlight the South African commitment to continue to fight for these values and be on the side of oppressed people everywhere.
We salute the more than 250 academics who signed the petition calling on UJ to end its relations with BGU (see www.ujpetition.com), a university whose racism is reflected even in its enrolment policies. We are particularly thrilled that four university vice-chancellors have signed on to the campaign, and are sure that this indicates that any suggestion of cooperation with institutions that support apartheid will immediately be dismissed by South African universities in future. The range of signatories gives hope to those of us who opposed apartheid in South Africa and oppose apartheid against the Palestinian people. It also gives us hope for the possibility of a successful South African academic boycott campaign against Israeli institutions, and a successful boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign in general against Israel.