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Boycott Calls Against Israel
The Battle over BDS in South Africa: an Analysis


03.04.19
Editorial Note
 
At a 30 March 2019 meeting, the Council of the University of Cape Town rejected the motion to adopt a BDS resolution and referred the matter back to the Senate. The Council noted that a number of issues required clarification including a full assessment of the sustainability impact of the Senate resolution which was adopted two weeks earlier, and a more consultative process was necessary before the matter could be considered any further.  The Senate resolution which required the vote of the Council stated: "UCT will not enter into any formal relationships with Israeli academic institutions operating in the Occupied Palestinian Territories as well as other Israeli academic institutions enabling gross human rights violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territories".   

But the BDS activists don't always wait for a vote. A few months ago, BDS activists threatened to "blow up" a conference if Israelis took part in it. This threat prompted the conference organizer to ask the Israeli scholars not to participate.  To recall, in November 2018, IAM reported on this international conference which disinvited three Israeli scholars due to pressure from the BDS movement. The conference, "Recognition, Reparation, Reconciliation: The Light and Shadow of Historical Trauma" took place in December 2018 at the University of Stellenbosch. The chair of the organizing committee, Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela, was responsible for disinviting the Israeli scholars.  Prof. Shifra Sagy of Ben Gurion University, whose research deals with the possibilities for promoting understanding and dialogue between groups in conflicts, is one of the three Israeli scholars who was disinvited. She explained that "The organizer of the conference contacted me and told me about the difficulties she was facing. At first, she reported that it had worked out, but later she called to apologize and said it wouldn't be possible for us to appear... The [BDS] activists sent a letter to the organizers and threatened to 'blow up' the conference if Israelis took part."  Sagy also mentioned that a researcher has canceled a scheduled meeting with her due to BDS.  Gobodo-Madikizela and Sagy have actually known each other for years as they have both worked extensively in reconciliation and dialogue.  Gobodo-Madikizela explained her reasons, “I have been thrown on the horns of an ongoing dilemma. On the one hand, I want to protect Stellenbosch University from protests and ensure that this conference, which I have worked so hard to organize, goes well, and not allow any organization to control how discussions are conducted, and what conversations are permitted. On the other hand, knowing that the flare-up is because of Israeli participation, I wanted my Israeli colleagues to understand the pressure that this imposes."

But Gobodo-Madikizela has a longstanding connection to Israeli academics, dating back to 1998 when she worked with Dan Bar-On, the late professor of psychology. “I hosted Bar-On the previous year, when he visited South Africa to observe the public process of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. And his colleague Sami Adwan, the Palestinian Professor of Education. For Gobodo-Madikizela both Adwan and Bar-On are among the "leading figures in peace scholarship and activism that seeks an alternative form of engagement to the one that dominates Palestine-Israeli relations", she said. "The late Bar-On’s book on the children of Nazi perpetrators influenced my own work and became one of the foundational pillars in my scholarly pursuits,” she added. She never wanted to silence or isolate Israelis – quite the opposite. "We, of course, believe in academic freedom, and we believe in the right to boycott, given the role that this played in our own struggle against apartheid. But I also know that our conference was not the appropriate vehicle for the application of the boycott”. 

Soon after the incident, Stellenbosch University officials tried to deny capitulating to BDS. In a statement on 30 November, Wim De Villiers, Stellenbosch University's rector and vice-chancellor, presented the disinvitation as a misunderstanding by the Israeli scholars. “When the first statement expressing opposition to the participation of Israeli speakers came to the attention of the organizers, a strategic decision was taken to remove the names of individuals and their institutions from the website as a precautionary measure to prevent academics and their institutions from being targeted, and to prevent the conference from derailing.” The Israeli scholars were still appearing in the program, he explained, but the “Israeli delegates decide to withdraw their participation as a result of circumstances beyond the control of the university and the conference organizing committee”. Obviously, Gobodo-Madikizela did not disclose to him that she specifically requested Sagy not to come.
 
To overcome the distrust by the Jewish community, during a meeting in January 2019 between Stellenbosch University and South Africa Jewish Board of Deputies the parties announced that "The University will, as in previous years, continue to welcome Israeli scholars." 

The Israel Academic Boycott is a program of the University of Cape Town Palestinian Solidarity Forum which was founded in 2010 and has promoted an academic boycott of Israeli academia ever since.  
South Africa is hospitable to BDS for a number of reasons. The Jewish population in South Africa is diminishing, currently numbering less than 80,000, while the Muslim population is increasing amounting to one million. The Palestinian influence is gaining strength. The PA has had strong ties with South Africa, but since 2015 so does Hamas.  In a 2015 visit, Khaled Mashaal, the Hamas leader, received red carpet treatment and was introduced to many important players including the South African President Jacob Zuma. Although South Africa's governing political party, the African National Congress (ANC) has had informal liaisons with Hamas for a long time, this visit represented a significant warming up. ANC announced that "There are those who think that by ignoring any of the players it will bring the region closer to a peaceful solution. Our experience in South Africa was that the process of negotiations involved all players irrespective of their views and beliefs." 


in December 2018, the ANC signed an agreement with Hamas’ Foreign Minister Mahmoud Al-Zahar. The agreement seeks to “introduce practical steps in mobilizing the international community to pressure Israel to end its occupation of Palestine, including working towards the full boycott of all Israeli products”. Also that month, South Africa’s National Freedom Party leader, Ahmed Munzoor Shaik Emam, tabled a draft resolution calling for the unconditional downgrade of the South African Embassy in Tel Aviv.

The BDS activists recruited a number of key players. In his recent article "UCT Must Take ‘Moral Stand’ And Boycott Israeli Institutions," Richard Falk, former UN Special Rapporteur for the Occupied Palestine Territories (2008-2014), and emeritus professor of International Law at Princeton University, wrote in favor of the boycott, a day before the UCT Council voted:  "it is important to appreciate that the academic boycott that Palestinians have called for and that your Council is considering boycotts complicit Israeli institutions, but it does not interfere with the activities of individual academics." Contrary to Falk's assertion, as noted earlier, Israeli individual academics were in fact targeted at the University of Stellenbosch conference in December.

Falk, who is Jewish, has offered some convoluted explanations as to why target Israel alone:  "As far as singling out Israel, there exist special justifications for the emphasis on Israeli wrongdoing. It should be remembered that Britain exerted control over Palestine as ‘a sacred trust’ on behalf of the international society until the establishment of the United Nations. At that point, the UN took over the responsibility to find a solution for Palestine in a manner that existed with respect to no other country in the world. The failure of the UN and international diplomacy to find a solution after seven decades reinforces the positive argument for relying on the role of civil society, which should be a decisive encouragement for the Council to endorse the Senate decision and so move with the flow of history toward freedom, justice, and the protection of basic human rights;" he wrote. As a long-time professor in international law, he should be aware that the Palestinians and their Arab States allies rejected the 1947 UN Partition proposal and started a war soon after, but he has not mentioned it.

Another Jewish activist recruited by the BDS activists is Mitchel Joffe Hunter, member of South African Jews for a Free Palestine. In his article "Why Jews support academic boycott of Israel", he claims that Jews who support the calls for Palestinian liberation are not anti-Semitic. That, "academic boycott is an expression of Jewish ethics." While "Antisemitism is a form of racism against Jews as Jews, [the call for a boycott] is not a targeted attack against Jews or Jewish organizations but against Israeli state sponsored institutions.”

Not surprising that Hunter mentioned that, "Jewish Israeli academics also support the academic boycott such as Rachel Giora, a professor of linguistics at Tel Aviv University and prominent Israeli feminist. Hunter quoted from her letter in 2009 to an academic boycott meeting of British academics stating that "in fact Israeli academia is no different from any other Israeli institutions, and in many cases it plays an active if not vital role in supporting Israeli apartheid practices against the Palestinians... the growing number of Israelis who are now supporting cultural and academic boycotts will rejoice in your achievements".

On the other hand, there are some calls opposing the boycott, such as Rhulani Thembi Siweya, member of the ANC who announced that "BDS-SA undermines South Africans." According to her, it is a "reckless manner in which the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement in South Africa (BDS-SA) handles the Israel-Palestine conflict."  They "selectively discriminate against entrepreneurial and business opportunities by corporations linked to Israel." if this is not challenged, it "may lead to a huge collapse of the South African economy". She questions "Why is BDS-SA so willing to sacrifice its fellow South African workers for its own self-serving position... It is strange that the BDS-SA selectively singles out only the Israeli “occupation” — part of a geographically disputed area still subjected to a two-state peace process — while South Africa continues to enjoy bilateral trade relations with many other “occupations"". 
BDS-SA has been deafeningly silent about other occupations in the world. "Something does not add up here. Closer to home, it’s a disgrace that on our own continent, in Libya, we still have slavery... This is slavery of fellow Africans on our continent. Why is BDS-SA silent on this?"  Moreover, she noted, "Israel continues to be the Palestinian Authority’s most important trading partner. In fact, Palestinian Authority officials were recently seen at a meeting sitting around a table that has on it, several juice bottles, all products from Israel. How does BDS-SA call on South African companies to boycott Israeli products while Palestinian leaders themselves are not boycotting those same Israeli products?" 

But as mentioned earlier, the main concern here is that BDS activists threaten to "blow up" conferences hosting Israelis. This should be acknowledged by the universities administrations.  IAM will report on the developments in South Africa in due course.

 




UCT Council decision on the resolution of the Senate regarding formal relationships with Israeli academic institutions in the Occupied Palestinian Territories

The University of Cape Town Council, at its meeting on 30 March 2019, considered the resolution of the Senate that “UCT will not enter into any formal relationships with Israeli academic institutions operating in the Occupied Palestinian Territories as well as other Israeli academic institutions enabling gross human rights violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territories”.

Council did not adopt this resolution of the Senate. It was the view of the Council that a number of issues required clarification, including a full assessment of the sustainability impact of the Senate resolution, and a more consultative process was necessary before the matter could be considered any further. Council resolved to refer the matter back to the Senate.

The Council separately resolved to:

• Reaffirm its commitment to supporting the rights and freedom of all people as universally recognised under international law;

• Condemn any acts that violate those rights and freedoms;

• Condemn the atrocities and human rights violations perpetrated in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, and elsewhere in the world;

• Call on all academics and academic institutions to support this resolution;

• Reaffirm UCT’s commitment to academic freedom but reserves the right to dissociate itself from those academics and academic institutions that support (directly or indirectly) the violation of human rights and /or enable the violation of human rights.

Royston Pillay
Registrar and Secretary to Council
University of Cape Town




==============================================================


Cape Times  
'Important step towards UCT adopting academic boycott of Israel'
NEWS / 1 APRIL 2019, 05:45AM / LISA ISAACS

Cape Town – UCT’s Palestine Solidarity Forum (PSF) has described the university council’s decision to refer a resolution to adopt an academic boycott of Israel back to its senate as an important step in advancing the fight for Palestinian freedom.
UCT’s council on Saturday opted to send a motion to boycott Israeli academic institutions back to its senate.

The resolution was brought by UCT’s academic freedom committee and it was passed by the senate two weeks ago.

Council considered the resolution of the senate that “UCT will not enter into any formal relationships with Israeli academic institutions operating in the Occupied Palestinian Territories as well as other Israeli academic institutions enabling gross human rights violations”.

Council registrar and secretary Royston Pillay said the council did not adopt the resolution.

“It was the view of the council that a number of issues required clarification, including a full assessment of the sustainability impact of the senate resolution. Council resolved to refer the matter back to the senate,” Pillay said.

Council separately resolved to reaffirm its commitment to supporting the rights and freedom of all people as universally recognised under international law; condemn any acts that violate those rights and freedoms; and condemn rights violations perpetrated in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and elsewhere in the world.

Council resolved to call on all academics and academic institutions to support the resolution; reaffirm UCT’s commitment to academic freedom but reserve the right to dissociate itself from academic institutions that support (directly or indirectly) the violation of human rights and /or enable the violation of human rights.

In a statement, the PSF said this was a significant victory.

“It is very noteworthy that by council’s resolution we have lost nothing. We have only gained and advanced, not as much as we had hoped, but we have advanced nonetheless.

“It is an important step towards UCT adopting the academic boycott of Israel.”

There was a strong indication in council’s condemnation that UCT should dissociate itself from all Israeli universities operating in, and contributing to, the violation of human rights in the occupied territories, the PSF said.

“We do not understand the council’s logic of sending the decision back to senate when senate has already voted to sanction all Israeli universities operating in the occupied territories and all Israeli universities enabling the violation of human rights.”


===================================================================




By The Daily Vox Team Last updated Mar 29, 2019

Palestinian Academics Urge UCT To Support Boycott Of Israeli Academic Institutions

The Palestinian Federation of Unions of University Professors and Employees (PFUUPE) and the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) urge the University of Cape Town (UCT) to vote in favor of the boycott of Israeli academic institutions in support of our nonviolent struggle for freedom, justice and equality.

A vote to sever academic ties with Israeli universities would ensure UCT’s campus, faculty, staff and students are free of involvement with institutions that play a well-documented role in, at best justifying, at worst planning, implementing and maintaining Israel’s grave violations of international law and our fundamental human rights.

It would also send a strong signal to those same universities that principled academic institutions will no longer turn a blind eye to their complicity in Israel’s regime of occupation, settler colonialism and apartheid and in facilitating violations of international law.

In recognition of the evident collusion of Israeli academic institutions in the denial of Palestinian human rights, and of the power that holding those institutions to account has to effect a change in the stagnant status quo, thousands of academics and important academic associations and teachers’ and student unions have endorsed the call by Palestinian academics for an institutional academic boycott of Israel until it respects international law.

As you are certainly aware, South Africa has been at the forefront of the groundswell of support for Palestinian rights through our nonviolent boycott campaigns, in particular the academic boycott, with the University of Johannesburg ending ties with Israel’s Ben Gurion University. Over 400 South African academics, many from your own university, signed a petition supporting that call, which read, “While Palestinians are not able to access universities and schools, Israeli universities produce the research, technology, arguments and leaders for maintaining the occupation.”

We want to reiterate that our boycott call is directed solely at Israeli institutions, not individual academics, and that we hold dear the universal right to academic freedom, on principle and because Palestinians are obliged to fight for it every day, along with our right to education. Institutionalised racial discrimination in the Israeli education system is widespread, as manifested in the substantial funding discrepancies between Palestinian and Jewish Israeli schools, which lead to Palestinian citizens of Israel reaching the university at a disadvantage. In all Israeli universities, Palestinian students face not only prevalent racism but also repressive restrictions on political activities.

In the occupied Palestinian territory, Israel’s web of military checkpoints and apartheid walls turns the simple act of getting to class into a dangerous obstacle course, where reaching one’s destination is far from guaranteed. Travel abroad or between the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and Gaza to advance studies or attend international conferences is made near impossible by Israel’s Kafkaesque travel permit system. Palestinian universities are at the mercy of Israel for entry of guest scholars from abroad, especially Palestinian refugees who are regularly denied entry.

The Israeli military carries out frequent raids on Palestinian universities, where students are forced to dodge live bullets and tear gas. During Israel’s 2014 military assault on Gaza, the Israeli military targeted at least 153 Palestinian schools, including 90 run by the United Nations, as well as Gaza’s largest university.

Palestinian scholars and students living abroad fare no better, facing constant attacks and repression by Israel’s influential lobby groups, resulting in courses being suspended, student groups being banned, and faculty being denied tenure, losing job opportunities and being fired.

Finally, we wish to express our gratitude to all those on and off the UCT campus, in particular the Palestine Solidarity Forum, for pushing forward with this campaign, and continuing to expand the debate on an issue that is often silenced and stifled. Israeli academic institutions have been given ample occasion to exempt themselves from our boycott call. They need only to meet two simple conditions, recognise the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people as enshrined in international law and end all forms of complicity in violating Palestinian rights as stipulated in international law. To date, not a single Israeli university has met even one of these conditions.

We therefore call upon international universities to support our nonviolent struggle for freedom, justice and equality by establishing a non-collaboration policy with complicit Israeli institutions.

We urge UCT to fulfill this basic moral imperative by heeding the call of Palestinian academics for a boycott of Israeli universities until we have obtained our fundamental rights. South African expected nothing less when they called for an academic boycott of their apartheid universities.

Sincerely,

Palestinian Federation of Unions of University Professors and Employees (PFUUPE) Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI)

The Palestinian Federation of Unions of University Professors and Employees (PFUUPE) represents more than 6,000 Palestinian university staff at 13 institutions of higher education in the occupied Palestinian territory. The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) was initiated in 2004 to contribute to the struggle for Palestinian freedom, justice and equality. PACBI advocates for the boycott of Israeli academic and cultural institutions, given their deep and persistent complicity in Israel’s denial of Palestinian rights as stipulated in international law.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect The Daily Vox’s editorial policy.

=========================================================



By The Daily Vox Team Last updated Mar 29, 2019

Richard Falk: UCT Must Take ‘Moral Stand’ And Boycott Israeli Institutions

Statement by RICHARD FALK, former UN Special Rapporteur for the Occupied Palestine Territories (2008-2014), Professor of International Law, Emeritus, Princeton University.

I have been invited by interested parties to comment upon the decision reached by University of Cape Town’s (UCT) Faculty Senate on March 15, 2019 in favor by a vote of 62- 43 (with 10 abstentions) of a boycott of Israeli academic institutions operating within occupied Palestinian territories as well as “Israeli academic institutions enabling gross human rights violations in the occupied Palestine territories.” 

I am aware that this vote by the UCT Senate was preceded by a series of similar initiatives by other South African academic institutions and that such boycotts were encouraged by the country’s Minister of Higher Education in 2014. My statement is also made in light of the forthcoming meeting of the UCT University Council on March 30.

I would point out that these initiatives in South Africa carry enormous symbolic and substantive weight throughout the world. Because of South Africa’s experience of apartheid, and the degree to which the racist regime was finally dismantled partially as a result of a global nonviolent campaign of solidarity with those struggling for racial equality, human rights, and constitutionalism in South Africa, what is done by leading South African institutions has significant political weight in Israel and elsewhere.

There is a serious analogy between this South African background and the current realities in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory (OPT).  I was the co-author of an academic analysis commissioned by the UN Economic and Social Council for West Asia that concluded in 2017 after a comprehensive analysis of Israeli policies and practices that Israel was an apartheid state that victimised the Palestinian people as a whole on the basis of race. I mention this assessment, now rather widely accepted by civil society groups dedicated to peace and justice for both peoples, because it adds to the significance of any South African recognition of the victimisation of the Palestinian people as establishing a special kinship between the great historical victory in South Africa and the present tragic circumstances in Israel/Palestine. 

My experience at the United Nations convinced me of three central conclusions relevant to the UCT upcoming Council meeting. First, the conditions of Palestinians in the OPT and elsewhere bearing on the protection of human rights exhibits flagrant and continuous Israeli violations of international law, especially the Fourth Geneva Convention. These violations include the accelerated extension of illegal settlements, annexation of Jerusalem, denial of right of return to Palestinian refugees, imposition of collective punishment, the siege of Gaza, and reliance on excessive force in ‘security’ operations.

Secondly, Israel and its overseas supporters are extremely sensitive to such findings of violations of international humanitarian law, and yet are defiant with respect to altering their unlawful behavior. And thirdly, with the failure of the UN and traditional inter-governmental diplomacy to find a solution based on international law, the prospects for peace, freedom and justice for Palestinians depend on the capacity of civil society to mount increasing nonviolent pressure on Israel, the occupying power. This reality makes it both a responsibility and opportunity to adopt various initiatives, including academic boycotts.

I have considered the two main objections to UCT initiative put forward by opponents of the Senate decision: that it interferes with academic freedom and that it singles Israel out in a manner that is discriminatory given abuses in other countries. On academic freedom the point is misleading. What is at stake here is the capacity of UCT to take a moral stand as part of its ethical integrity as an institution of higher education. Over the course of my own half century of teaching experience I often heard from students, years after their graduation that their most valuable education occurred outside of the classroom in standing up for what they believed in.

Here this proposed academic boycott is an initiative in support of human rights, especially the inalienable right of self-determination. It gives students at UCT an invaluable opportunity to help produce citizens of conscience as part of the university’s educational mission, supplementing the imparting knowledge and the teaching of skills. Also, it is important to appreciate that the academic boycott that Palestinians have called for and that your Council is considering boycotts complicit Israeli institutions, but it does not interfere with the activities of individual academics.

As far as singling out Israel, there exist special justifications for the emphasis on Israeli wrongdoing. It should be remembered that Britain exerted control over Palestine as ‘a sacred trust’ on behalf of the international society until the establishment of the United Nations. At that point, the UN took over the responsibility to find a solution for Palestine in a manner that existed with respect to no other country in the world. The failure of the UN and international diplomacy to find a solution after seven decades reinforces the positive argument for relying on the role of civil society, which should be a decisive encouragement for the Council to endorse the Senate decision and so move with the flow of history toward freedom, justice, and the protection of basic human rights.

Moreover, as in the South African struggle against apartheid, outsiders have a moral obligation to heed the calls of the oppressed for support and effective solidarity. This obligation becomes even more critical when our own institutions are involved, however indirectly, in maintaining a system of prolonged oppression. Palestinians are basically asking the University of Cape Town not to impair their struggle for freedom and justice. Maintaining academic relations with Israeli universities that are deeply implicated in serious human rights violations does harm to that struggle and impedes emancipation.

An academic boycott, as carefully framed by the UCT Senate decision, is an entirely appropriate and constructive response given the values at stake.

Richard Falk is a former United Nations Special Rapporteur for the Occupied Palestine Territories (2008-2014), and Professor of International Law, Emeritus, Princeton University.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect The Daily Vox’s editorial policy.

======================================================================


https://www.politicsweb.co.za/politics/uct-why-jews-support-academic-boycott-of-israel--s  

POLITICS

UCT: Why Jews support academic boycott of Israel - SAJFP

Mitchel Joffe Hunter | 
27 March 2019
Mitchel Joffe Hunter says this is not about anti-Semitism, but justice

Not Antisemitism but Justice: Why Jews support the academic boycott of Israel

On the 15th of March the University of Cape Town (UCT) Senate took a decision not to enter into any formal relationships with Israeli universities operating in occupied Palestinian territories. This is a momentous decision because it brings UCT in line with international law and makes UCT an ally in the struggle for human rights in Israel and Palestine. However we have already heard comments that this decision is anti-Semitic. As Jews who support calls for Palestinian liberation we reject this claim and seek to show how an academic boycott is an expression of Jewish ethics.

Antisemitism is a form of racism against Jews as Jews. A discriminatory process against Jewish people, businesses and places of worship etc. because we are Jewish. This is usually expressed through tropes such as the ‘greedy, money-driven Jew’ or the ‘Jewish conspiracy to control the world’. The call for a boycott of Israel utilizes none of these obnoxious stereotypes. Israel must be treated as a state like any other rather than be exempted from critique because it purports to be only a state of/for Jews.

The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) guidelines are clear: the call is to isolate only those Israeli institutions that are complicit in maintaining the oppression of Palestinians. This is not a targeted attack against Jews or Jewish organisations but against Israeli state sponsored institutions that buttress a system of dispossession and denial of a wide range of human rights with respect to ‘non-Jews’. Further, this call for a boycott is based on well-grounded research that is open to scrutiny and that has been endorsed by academics, academic associations and universities worldwide. As such, we are enraged by what Israeli institutions do.

It should also be remembered that no boycott is everlasting. If it was antisemitic, one feature of it would be for it to be everlasting, because an antisemite would view us Jews as unchanging in our so-called barbarity. However this is not the case. The PACBI, and the broader movement for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS), is clear that this is a conditional strategy rather than an undying principle of Palestinian liberation. The boycott should be enforced until Israel complies with international law and the three basic demands of the Palestinian struggle that launched BDS in 2005: An end to the occupation of the West Bank and the siege on Gaza, full political and civil rights for Palestinians with Israeli citizenship and the right of return for Palestinian refugees.

Further, as Jews, we are convinced that the resolution that was championed by UCT’s Senate on the 15thof March to the effect that “UCT will not enter into any formal relationships with Israeli academic institutions operating in the occupied Palestinian territories as well as other Israeli academic institutions enabling gross human rights violations in the occupied Palestinian territories”, will, in the face of Israeli Zionist violations of basic Jewish ethics, assist us to live our Jewish moral and cultural identities with integrity and pride.

Jewish morality has developed from two sources. There is first the long history of Jewish resistance to oppressive regimes stretching from biblical times to the present. We very consciously carry the torch of resistance with those Jews who mobilised against Rome, Tsarist and Stalinist Russia, Nazi Germany, Apartheid South Africa, Pinochet’s Chile and now Trump’s America. We carry the torch of those Jews who fought against racism and oppression, whether directed against themselves or others by participating the Civil Rights Movement in the USA, in trade unions world over and, as importantly, in today’s Israel.

All these actions are also motivated by the call for Tikkun olam (literally ‘repairing the world’). Tikkun Olam is the prophetic call for a world free from oppression and exploitation. The Babylonian Talmud (Shabbat 54B), a central text in our religious library states: “Whoever is able to protest against the transgressions of the people of their community and does not do so is liable for their community. Whoever is able to protest against the transgressions of the entire world and does not do so is liable for the transgressions of the entire world.”

From these two traditions, secular and religious, we assert that it is our moral and ethical duty to protest against the State of Israel for human rights abuses against Palestinians. No one should sit by while unjust situations continue, especially when there are internationally recognised strategies towards ending the cycle of violence.

More and more Jews around the world are recognizing this and are now supporting the Palestinian call for boycotts. This includes the American ‘Jewish Voice for Peace’ with close to 100 000 members, the Israeli ‘Boycott from Within’ and Jewish organisations in Canada, Australia, Europe, Britain, Brazil, Argentina and, South Africa. Jewish and Jewish Israeli academics also support the academic boycott such as Rachel Giora, a Professor of Linguistics at Tel Aviv University and prominent Israeli feminist. She wrote a letter in 2009 to an academic boycott meeting of British academics stating that “in fact Israeli academia is no different from any other Israeli institutions, and in many cases it plays an active if not vital role in supporting Israeli apartheid practices against the Palestinians” and further that “the growing number of Israelis who are now supporting cultural and academic boycotts will rejoice in your achievements.”

Similarly, we await a ratification of this decision by the UCT Council and implore everyone, regardless of religion, to support the Palestinian call for a boycott, as the international community did for South African during Apartheid.

Mitchel Joffe Hunter is a member of South African Jews for a Free Palestine.




=====================================================




Standoff in UCT debate on Israel
WEEKEND ARGUS / 31 MARCH 2019, 2:00PM / KAREN PRETORIUS

Cape Town - After protracted deliberations on Saturday, UCT’s council last night opted to send a motion to boycott Israeli academic institutions back to its senate.
The resolution was brought by the university’s academic freedom committee (AFC) and passed by the senate two weeks ago.

“A number of issues required clarification, including a full assessment of the sustainability impact of the senate resolution and a more consultative process was necessary before the matter could be considered any further,” UCT said.

The resolution condemned “atrocities and human rights violations” perpetrated in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and elsewhere in the world and called on all academics and academic institutions to support the resolution.

The motion before the council elicited heated responses from both sides of the debate.

Ahead of yesterday’s vote, the Rule of Law Project (RLP) said the motion to restrict interaction between UCT and Israeli academic institutions would be “unconstitutional, discriminatory and flout the doctrine of academic freedom”.

“Since UCT is a publicly funded organ of state, it must respect, protect, promote and fulfil the rights protected by the bill of rights, including the right to freedom of expression and academic freedom. It also protects against discrimination based on ethnicity, religion and language,” said advocate Mark Oppenheimer, quoted in a RLP statement.

The South African Union of Jewish Students said such a boycott would be “severely discriminatory” towards Jewish students at UCT.

It accused the AFC of double standards, narrow political agendas and discrimination.

“If the AFC were truly concerned with academic freedom issues and decided to engage with international issues, then why was this body intensely and obsessively focused with Israel for multiple meetings, giving it inordinate airtime over every other local or international issue at the university?”

The student body accused UCT of excluding it in the discussion, saying the proposed boycott was first conceived during the “Israel Apartheid Week”, which it said had caused insecurity among Jewish students.

The UCT Palestine Solidarity Forum said universities were not neutral institutions and should take a stand on matters such as colonialism and oppression.

“UCT under apartheid did not condemn apartheid and was instrumental in it,” said chairperson Alex Hotz.

She said there were conservative members of UCT council who thought of the financial implications of such as ban, saying the institution “gets a lot of Zionist funding”.

She said irrespective of the outcome, the PSF would continue to fight for an academic ban.

In a letter posted on the PSF Facebook page, political scientist Professor Steven Friedman called on UCT to adopt the academic ban of Israeli universities in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Friedman is based at the University of Johannesburg.

Weekend Argus


===============================================================


 
Opinionista • Rhulani Thembi Siweya • 15 February 2019
BDS-SA undermines South Africans

BDS-SA ought to listen to what ordinary Palestinians yearn for. Its messaging on Palestine is not coherent and fails to benefit the Palestinians living in Palestine. The BDS-SA policy that Israel has no right to exist, and that South Africa must not pursue policies that are in its own best economic interests, must be dismissed.
The reckless manner in which the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement in South Africa (BDS-SA) handles the Israel-Palestine conflict seems to create the need to reiterate the famous words coined by James Carville during the 1992 presidential elections in the United States:

“It’s the economy, stupid.”

The trajectory taken by BDS-SA to selectively discriminate against entrepreneurial and business opportunities by corporations linked to Israel, if not challenged, may lead to a huge collapse of the South African economy and ultimately lead to unwarranted job losses.

The South African economy in past years has been a great concern; the Gini coefficient (a statistical measure of inequality in a society) continues to increase. Standing at close to 0.95 for wealth, it reveals a staggeringly unequal society with our unemployment rate remaining alarmingly high at 27% and a shocking number of young people that are not part of any employment, education or training.

In recent years, the Pretoria administration has had to initiate a number of strategies in order to boost the economy following the downgrades and recession. The South African reality necessitates the need to focus on the economy and, most importantly, create and maintain trade relations with other countries that excel in certain vital economic aspects. This is in the best interests of the people of South Africa.

A lobby group like BDS-SA ignores the South African reality and undermines the country’s national interest to create an inclusive economy for all, especially for the poor masses of our country. A few days ago, BDS-SA threatened to disrupt investments from Brimstone Investment Corporation that has committed to developing and improving South Africa’s biggest dairy company, Clover.

Why is BDS-SA so willing to sacrifice its fellow South African workers for its own self-serving position, being coldly indifferent to increasing the ranks of our unemployed?

The call by BDS-SA also undermines the strides made by President Cyril Ramaphosa to attract vital investment to South Africa from both overseas corporations and foreign countries.

It is strange that the BDS-SA selectively singles out only the Israeli “occupation” — part of a geographically disputed area still subjected to a two-state peace process — while South Africa continues to enjoy bilateral trade relations with many other “occupations” including:

The occupation of Tibet by China since 1948, with about 1 million Muslim Uighurs having been imprisoned by China for ‘re-education’

The occupation of Kashmir by India since 1948;

The occupation of the Northern part of Cyprus (over 36%) by Turkey since 1974 following a military invasion;

The occupation of Western Sahara by Morocco, which has been on the United Nations list of non-self-governing territories since 1963, but to this day remains controlled by the Moroccan army; and

The military occupation of the Crimean Peninsula by Russia since 2014.

BDS-SA has been deafeningly silent about such occupations; In fact both China and India, which are clear “occupiers” by any definition, are part of the strategic regional set-up between, Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS).

Gross human rights violations continue to take place in Syria and Yemen that have come to characterise both these conflicts with hundreds of thousands massacred and millions displaced.

BDS had no problem with Saudi Arabia investing R10-billion into South Africa’s state-owned Denel and using SA-manufactured weapons to kill Yemenis, but seemingly, they have a problem with Israelis investing R4.8-billion into Clover.

Something does not add up here.

Closer to home, it’s a disgrace that on our own continent, in Libya, we still have slavery — exploiting the flow of refugees escaping poverty. Slave markets operate along these migrant routes. This is slavery of fellow Africans on our continent. Why is BDS-SA silent on this?

And why not a word about Morocco, that continues to undermine the sovereignty of the Sahrawi people. Of course, mentioning some of these incidents does not justify any form of human rights violations, but it is meant to make it clear that all human beings matter.

BDS-SA must be consistent. So far, it is suspiciously selective, and to South Africa’s detriment. Who is really paying the price for BDS-SA interfering in South Africa’s economy? The answer — South African workers.

The international community, through platforms created by multilateral organisations, including the United Nations has attempted to resolve the existing Palestine-Israel conflict. It has a long way to go and both sides need to take risks to achieve a comprehensive peace agreement.

At present, despite the hurdles and setbacks – a phenomenon in any tough territorial negotiations — Israel continues to be the Palestinian Authority’s most important trading partner. In fact, Palestinian Authority officials were recently seen at a meeting sitting around a table that has on it, several juice bottles, all products from Israel. How does BDS-SA call on South African companies to boycott Israeli products while Palestinian leaders themselves are not boycotting those same Israeli products?

The facts are that in terms of the Oslo Accords:

“The two parties view the economic domain as one of the cornerstones in their mutual relations, with a view to enhance their interest in the achievement of a just, lasting and comprehensive peace.” (From the Protocol on Economic Relations, Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement, signed in Washington, DC, September 28, 1995).

The Oslo Accords serves as the basis of mutual recognition of two states for two peoples living side by side in peace and security.

In agreements reached between the two nations, there has been a willingness to have the two states exist independently of each other (“Two-State Solution”), and the assertions by BDS-SA to reject everything that Israel does fails to reflect a willingness to reach that solution.

It is important to make it clear that, the struggle towards self-determination of any peoples can be best solved by the people themselves, through their own voices.

Yes, the international community should provide a platform in which the parties involved can sit at the negotiation table and pave a way forward — and the South African government can help in this process between Palestine and Israel from its own experience. And in the process, South Africa can and should benefit.

For instance, President Cyril Ramaphosa in his the State of the Nation Address spoke about the need to find mechanisms that will enhance the Fourth Industrial Revolution in this country.

In this pursuit, Pretoria can learn from Israel because it is ranked high in technological readiness and ranks among the top countries in the world for the quality of its engineers and scientists. Israel also does incredibly well in creating and maintaining the number of start-ups per capita.

Availing ourselves of such expertise will help us with the developmental agenda that the South African government aims to create. In this way, we respond to our call of duty by delivering to our people by growing the economy.

BDS-SA does not hold any electoral mandate and must not hamper nor tamper with the operations of the state. If BDS-SA is genuine and honest about its course, it must encourage the people of Palestine to sit with the Israelis at the negotiation table. Its lobbying must not be at the expense of the South African worker, which is what it is doing at present.

BDS-SA ought to listen to what ordinary Palestinians yearn for. Its messaging on Palestine is not coherent and fails to benefit the Palestinians living in Palestine. The BDS-SA policy that Israel has no right to exist, and that South Africa must not pursue policies that are in its own best economic interests, must be dismissed.

We must do so not for the interests of Israel, but for the best interests of Palestine and South Africa. The solution lies in mediation and fast-tracking the implementation of previous resolutions on the Israeli/Palestine question.

Towards this worthy aim, South Africa can play a major role without the spoiler of BDS-SA. 
DM

Rhulani Thembi Siweya is the founder of Africa Unmasked and an NEC member of the ANC Youth League.

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BDS hails South Africa ANC’s agreement with Hamas
December 5, 2018 at 2:44 pm | 


The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement has hailed the decision of South Africa’s African National Congress (ANC) Parliamentary Caucus to sign an agreement with Hamas.

BDS welcomed the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the two parties, calling it “a success for Palestine solidarity”.

In a press release, BDS’ South Africa division wrote that it “commends the Office of the ANC Chief Whip and our governing party for their consistent support of the Palestinian struggle and BDS movement”.

The MoU was signed on Monday during a week-long visit by a delegation from Hamas’ Change and Reform Bloc to South Africa. The agreement was signed by Hamas’ Foreign Minister Mahmoud Al-Zahar and the ANC’s Chief Whip in Parliament Jackson Mthembu.

The MoU seeks to “introduce practical steps in mobilizing the international community to pressure Israel to end its occupation of Palestine, including working towards the full boycott of all Israeli products,” AfroPal Forum reported.

According to the MoU, the ANC Parliamentary Caucus “will use the oversight powers of South Africa’s parliament to ensure that the ANC’s 2017 resolution to downgrade the South African embassy in Tel Aviv to a liaison office is implemented by the South African government”. BDS South Africa welcomed this affirmation.

READ: ‘We started an international tour to mobilise support for Palestinian people

South Africa has been discussing the downgrading of its embassy in Israel since May in response to Israel’s killing of protesters during the Great March of Return in the besieged Gaza Strip. That month South Africa’s National Freedom Party leader, Ahmed Munzoor Shaik Emam, tabled a draft resolution calling for the unconditional downgrade of the South African Embassy in Tel Aviv, saying: “Countries, including South Africa, have been far too patient while people are killed and international law is ignored.”

The calls to downgrade the embassy came just days after South Africa withdrew its ambassador from Israel. South Africa’s Department of International Relations and Cooperation said in a statement that: “Given the indiscriminate [nature] and gravity of the latest Israeli attack, the South African government has taken a decision to recall Ambassador Sisa Ngombane with immediate effect until further notice.”

In September, South Africa quietly returned Ngombane to his post. Israel’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Emmanuel Nahshon, told Israeli media that his country had been informed of the decision in a letter from the South African Embassy in Tel Aviv.

South Africa has a long history of support for the Palestinian cause and has been a vocal advocate of the BDS movement. Numerous South African churches and universities have backed a cultural and economic boycott of Israeli organisations. Last month, BDS activists pressured South Africa’s University of Stellenbosch to withdraw invitations for Israeli academics to attend a major conference. Seven academics from three Israeli universities – the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Tel Aviv University and Ben-Gurion University – were supposed to attend the conference, but received phone calls saying they were no longer welcome to participate due to “certain difficulties”.

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SA Jewish Board will not accept UCT Council decision over boycott of Israeli institutions
March 31, 2019
  
The South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) has commended the University of Cape Town’s (UCT) Council for not accepting Senate’s resolution to an academic boycott of Israel.

“Their decision on Saturday endorsed the principles of academic freedom that underpin any credible global top-ranking university. An attempt to boycott academic institutions in Israel, or indeed in any other country, would contravene outright these principles, on which the proper functioning of institutes of higher learning is predicated,” SAJBD spokesperson Charisse Zeifert said in a statement on Sunday.

According to the UCT spokesperson Elijah Moholola, the institution’s Senate took a resolution in favour of a proposal for UCT to not enter into any formal relationships with Israeli academic institutions operating in the occupied Palestinian territories and other Israeli academic institutions enabling gross human rights violations in the occupied Palestinian territories, News24 previously reported.

The Senate resolution was passed at a meeting held on March 15.

According to Royston Pillay, the Registrar and Secretary to Council, the matter was on Saturday referred back to the Senate after it was realised that a full assessment of the sustainability impact of the Senate resolution and a more consultative process was necessary before the matter could be considered any further.

He said the council “separately resolved” to reaffirm its commitment to supporting the rights and freedom of all people recognised under international law.

The SAJBD said that should UCT’s Council resolve to academically boycott Israel, it would be “a tragic betrayal of the university’s fine record of upholding such values”.

“We look to the Senate to further endorse and uphold these principles in their future deliberations. Any resolutions should reconfirm the university’s ethos and its commitment to fairness, justice and non-racialism,” Zeifert said.

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Statement from Stellenbosch University (SU) and SA Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD):  

Author: Corporate Communication

Published: 05/02/2019

Statement from Stellenbosch University (SU) and SA Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD):

Academic freedom should be embraced, defended and never be taken for granted. This was the consensus at a meeting between representatives from Stellenbosch University (SU) and the SA Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) at the University on Friday, 25 January 2019.

The meeting was convened following the withdrawal of several Israeli academics from a conference, entitled Recognition, Reparation, Reconciliation: The Light and Shadow of Historical Trauma, held at SU towards the end of 2018. The conference was organised by Professor Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela, Research Chair for Historical Trauma and Transformation at the University.

Professor Wim de Villiers, Rector and Vice-Chancellor of SU, expressed regret that the Israeli academics ended up not attending the conference. He further stressed the University's continued adherence to the principles of freedom of expression and academic freedom, saying, “As a research-intensive university of global significance, we continue to welcome academics from all over the world at Stellenbosch University – including scholars from Israel – and co-create excellent research with significant social and academic impact."

The conference brought together a global network of scholars and practitioners to deliberate on questions relating to historical wounding and its transgenerational repercussions. However, scholars from Israel ended up not participating because they felt unwelcome by the manner in which the University engaged with anti-Israel activists. This perception of exclusion was not intended by the University, and we regret this and the subsequent loss of the important Israeli voices at the conference.

Professor Thuli Madonsela, Law Faculty Trust Chair for Social Justice and Law Professor at Stellenbosch University, also attended the meeting between the SAJBD and SU. She stressed that the efforts by the University had been aimed at ensuring peace and security around the conference following calls to exclude Israeli participants, and that it had never been its intention to undermine academic freedom nor to make Israeli participants feel unwelcome. 

Every year, SU hosts several scholarly events that attract academics from across the globe. The University will, as in previous years, continue to welcome Israeli scholars as part of the University's commitment to internationalisation and promoting its vision of excellence as a leading centre of higher education research. 


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SU did not disinvite Israeli delegates to conference - Wim de Villiers

Prof Wim de Villiers | 
30 November 2018
VC says at no point was any speaker requested to withdraw from the event

An objective of the Recognition, Reparation, Reconciliation: The Light and Shadow of Historical Traumaconference at Stellenbosch University is to bring together scholars and practitioners to deliberate on important questions relating to historical wounding and haunting legacies as a result of trans-generational trauma. To name but a few: What is the appropriate response to the echoes of historical wounding that extend far beyond the generation that experienced the trauma directly?

What strategies might quell the haunting repercussions of genocide, slavery, colonial oppression, and mass violence that play out in the lives of affected individuals and groups from both sides of these acts?

It is therefore regrettable that the Israeli | Palestinian narrative has now spilled over to the conference, achieving exactly the opposite of the vision for the event, and in the process attempting to vilify Stellenbosch University and Prof Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela, chair of the conference committee and incumbent of the Research Chair for Historical Trauma and Transformation at the University.

I would like to state the following unequivocally: Stellenbosch University supports freedom of expression and academic freedom, and is no way anti-Semitic or anti-Palestinian. Terminology such as “disinvited, uninvited or invitation unilaterally cancelled” in reference to speakers who will no longer be attending, is simply not true.

At no point did the conference organisers or Stellenbosch University request or suggest that any speaker should withdraw from the event. Neither were any individuals singled out or vilified on Stellenbosch University’s social media platforms. The University has no control over the newsletters or social media platforms of external organisations.

Prof Gobodo-Madikizela continued her engagement with the various role players in a spirit of reconciliation, expressing regret over their withdrawal and assuring them of their safety in South Africa if they were to attend. When the first statement expressing opposition to the participation of Israeli speakers came to the attention of the organisers, a strategic decision was taken to remove the names of individuals and their institutions from the website (not from the programme) as a precautionary measure to prevent academics and their institutions from being targeted, and to prevent the conference from derailing.

Israeli delegates decided to withdraw their participation as a result of circumstances beyond the control of the University and the conference organising committee. The most disappointing outcome of this sequence of events is the absence of robust debate on the Israeli | Palestinian issue at the conference.

Statement issued by Prof Wim de Villiers Rector and Vice-Chancellor, Stellenbosch Universy, 29 November 2018

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Stellenbosch University denies Israelis were disinvited

When Professor Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela removed the names of Israeli academics from the online programme of her conference at Stellenbosch University, she said she did it in the hope of diffusing protest. She told the SA Jewish Report she had planned to return their names once the issue had been resolved.
by TALI FEINBERG | Dec 06, 2018

However, that was not to be, as the Israeli delegates withdrew their participation after they saw their names had been taken off the online programme.

The conference, titled “Recognition, Reparation, Reconciliation: The Light and Shadow of Historical Trauma” began on Wednesday, and will run until Sunday. More than 320 people from 23 countries are attending.

“The reason their names were taken off the online programme was to remove what would be a flashpoint for protest once the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign (PSC) statement was released to the public. The aim was simply to allow me to continue the discussion with PSC,” she said.

“Since graduate school, and even before, my personal and professional identity has been embedded in the academic ethos. The first premise of this ethos has been to encourage free discussion and exchange of ideas regardless of their content or of whoever is expressing them,” she said.

“Boycotting certain individuals because of their affiliation, their opinions, or their findings contradicts this basic first rule of academic life. Therefore, the call for boycotting a group of individuals whose work I know is aligned with mine goes against everything I believe in, my values, and the seriousness with which I take professional relationships with colleagues.”

She said this was the first time she had had to deal with this kind of situation. “I have been thrown on the horns of an ongoing dilemma. On the one hand, I want to protect Stellenbosch University from protests and ensure that this conference, which I have worked so hard to organise, goes well, and not allow any organisation to control how discussions are conducted, and what conversations are permitted. On the other hand, knowing that the flare-up is because of Israeli participation, I wanted my Israeli colleagues to understand the pressure that this imposes,” she said.

Professor Shifra Sagy of Ben-Gurion University confirmed that Gobodo-Madikizela had encouraged her to come to the conference even after the programme was altered. The two academics have known each other for years as they have both worked extensively in reconciliation and dialogue.

Gobodo-Madikizela said she was deeply committed to the work that her Palestinian and Israeli colleagues were doing. She described her longstanding connection to these academics, going all the way back to 1998, when she worked with Sami Adwan, a Palestinian Professor of Education, and Dan Bar-On, the late Israeli Professor of Psychology.

“I hosted Bar-On the previous year, when he visited South Africa to observe the public process of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Both Adwan and Bar-On are among leading figures in peace scholarship and activism that seeks an alternative form of engagement to the one that dominates Palestine-Israeli relations, and Adwan and I have shared platforms at international conferences,” she said.

“The late Bar-On’s book on the children of Nazi perpetrators influenced my own work, and became one of the foundational pillars in my scholarly pursuits,” she added.

From her perspective, Gobodo-Madikizela never wanted to silence or isolate Israelis – quite the opposite. “We, of course, believe in academic freedom, and we believe in the right to boycott, given the role that this played in our own struggle against apartheid. But I also know that our conference was not the appropriate vehicle for the application of the boycott,” she said.

In a statement released on 30 November, Stellenbosch University Rector and Vice-Chancellor Wim De Villiers echoed this view. “When the first statement expressing opposition to the participation of Israeli speakers came to the attention of the organisers, a strategic decision was taken to remove the names of individuals and their institutions from the website [not from the programme] as a precautionary measure to prevent academics and their institutions from being targeted, and to prevent the conference from derailing.”

He explained that only then did the “Israeli delegates decide to withdraw their participation as a result of circumstances beyond the control of the university and the conference organising committee”.

He added that “terminology such as ‘disinvited, uninvited or invitation unilaterally cancelled’ in reference to speakers who will no longer be attending, is simply not true. At no point did the conference organisers or Stellenbosch University request or suggest that any speaker should withdraw from the event. Gobodo-Madikizela continued her engagement with the various role players in a spirit of reconciliation, expressing regret over their withdrawal, and assuring them of their safety in South Africa if they were to attend.”

However, all the Israeli delegates told the SA Jewish Report that as soon as the online programme was altered, they had felt unwelcome. Anti-Israel activists, on the other hand, believed that they had scored a victory. “We commend the conference organisers for their respectful engagements and ultimate decision to respect the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel guidelines for the implementation of the academic boycott against Israel,” wrote Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions South Africa (BDS SA) on 29 November.

The South African Jewish Board of Deputies pointed out in a statement on Facebook that, “It was because they had been unilaterally kicked off the programme that those academics decided not to attend the conference. There was nothing ‘voluntary’ about it. Even Stellenbosch University admits that the conference programme was changed to exclude speakers that various BDS-aligned factions were objecting to.”

There is one point that the Israeli academics and the university agree upon: In the words of De Villiers, “The most disappointing outcome of this sequence of events is the absence of robust debate on the Israeli-Palestinian issue at the conference.”

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Publish Date: 2018/11/26 
South African conference urged to withdraw Israeli academics, support boycott call

CAPETOWN, Monday, November 26, 2018 (WAFA) - Several South African pro-Palestine solidarity groups are calling for the withdrawal of the participation of Israeli academics at a conference to be held at the University of Stellenbosch in South Africa from 5 to 9 December, the Afro-Palestine Newswire Service reported.

Entitled "Recognition, Reparation, Reconciliation: The Light and Shadow of Historical Trauma", the aim of the conference is to deepen understanding of trans-generational trauma, and develop strategies to deal with the repercussions of genocide, colonial oppression, and mass violence.

The conference committee is chaired by award-winning author and scholar, Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela, and the 4-day gathering features several prominent academics and activists, including Achille Mbembe, Homi Bhaba, Albie Sachs, Zackie Achmat and Lindiwe Hani. The closing ceremony will celebrate 20 years of Archbishop Desmond Tutu and South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

"We are unequivocal in our support for the conference, and this is not an appeal to boycott the conference as a whole," Afro-Palestine Newswire Service quoted Roshan Dadoo, from the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC), as saying.

"However, the participation of Israeli academics at a conference of such moral and intellectual significance is unacceptable, given the role that Israeli academic institutions play in planning, executing, justifying and whitewashing the Israeli state's abuse of Palestinian human rights, numerous violations of international law - and even war crimes," explained Dadoo.

In a statement, the groups are calling on the conference organizers, speakers, participants and sponsors to support the rationale of the Palestinian call for the academic and cultural boycott of Israel.

"The rationale for the call of the cultural and academic boycott of Israel is for Israel to extend full human and civil rights to all citizens of Israel, to end the occupation and enable the Palestinian right to return. Notably, all these demands are consistent with international humanitarian law," says Dadoo.

T.R.

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Newsletter Wednesday November 28, 2018
S. African university conference caves to BDS, disinvites Israelis
Palestinian supporters threaten to "blow up" Stellenbosch University conference, ironically on subject of reconciliation after historical trauma • Professor Shifra Sagy of Ben-Gurion University: This is the first time I have encountered academic boycott.

Noam Dvir
 
Faculty members from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv University who were scheduled to take part in an upcoming conference at Stellenbosch University in South Africa have been disinvited after organizers gave in to pressure from the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement, which supports boycotting Israel as a show of support for the Palestinian cause.
 
Professor Shifra Sagy, head of BGU's Martin-Springer Center for the Study of Conflict Management and Resolution, was slated to attend the conference, titled "Recognition, Reparation, Reconciliation: The Light and Shadow of Historical Trauma," along with four of her students, but discovered that her name had been removed from the list of scheduled lecturers.

"The organizer of the conference contacted me and told me about the difficulties she was facing. At first, she reported that it had worked out, but later she called to apologize and said it wouldn't be possible for us to appear," Sagy said.

"The [BDS] activists sent a letter to the organizers and threatened to 'blow up' the conference if Israelis took part.

"This is the first time I've ever encountered an academic boycott, and it was very blatant. I appear at a lot of conferences and feel part of the international academic community, so I was very surprised, particularly when the subject of the conference was reconciliation. My research deals with possibilities for promoting understanding and dialogue between groups in conflict," she said.

Sagy said that in addition to her participation in the event being canceled, a researcher from the host university had notified her that he was canceling a scheduled meeting with her due to the calls for a boycott.

In response to the boycott, Ben-Gurion University Rector Professor Chaim Hames said: "Aside from the [boycott movement's] ignorance and lack of basic understanding of the situation in Israel, I can only condemn the call for an academic boycott of Israel.

"This is a dangerous capitulation by the conference organizers and an attack on the central tenets of academia."

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