South Africa: ‘Boycott Israel’ campaign scores big win

The statement below was published by the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions Working Group (South Africa) on March 23. It’s abridged from www.pacbi.org .

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Today, setting a worldwide precedent in the academic boycott of Israel, the University of Johannesburg (UJ) has effectively severed ties with Israel’s Ben-Gurion University (BGU).

This was after UJ’s Senate rejected a last ditch motion by pro-Israeli lobbyists to have two separate bilateral agreements — one with a Palestinian University and another with an Israeli University.

UJ chose instead to uphold its previous Senate resolution that required taking leadership from Palestinian universities. Palestinian universities unanimously rejected any collaboration with BGU (in any form) and have come out in full support of the academic boycott of Israel.

UJ chose to respect this.

UJ is the first institution to officially sever relations with an Israeli university — a landmark moment in the growing boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign targeting Israel.

This boycott decision, coming from a South African institution, is of particular significance. This has set a precedent.

The movement to end ties with BGU was boosted by the overwhelming support given to a statement and campaign in support of UJ academics and students calling for the boycott.

As the UJ senate met today, more than 400 South African academics, including nine vice-chancellors and deputy vice-chancellors, had signed the statement.

More than 100 academics internationally lent their support, including several prominent international scholars.

UJ has made history by upholding and advancing academic moral integrity. Palestinians, South Africans and the international academic and solidarity community celebrate this decisive victory in isolating Israeli apartheid and supporting freedom, dignity and justice for the Palestinian people.

UJ now continues the anti-apartheid movement — against apartheid Israel.

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