Gaza Academics and Students: U. of Johannesburg’s Decision to Condition Ties with Ben Gurion University, a Step in the Right Direction (Statement)

Besieged Gaza,

University Teachers’ Association
Palestinian Students Campaign for the Academic Boycott of Israel

30.September.2010

Gaza Academics and Students: U. of Johannesburg’s Decision to Condition Ties with Ben Gurion University, a Step in the Right Direction

University Teachers’ Association in Palestine and Palestinian Students’ Campaign for the Academic Boycott of Israel welcome the decision taken by the Senate of the University of Johannesburg (UJ) to distance itself from the crimes of Apartheid Israel. The decision made by UJ’s highest academic body to set conditions for the relationship with Ben Burion University comes in response to a nationwide academic petition supported by more than 250 South African academics and Vice Chancellors.

But for us Gazans faced with atrocity after atrocity, bearing the brunt of Apartheid Israel’s continuous violation of international law and impunity ever since over two thirds of us were ethnically cleansed from where Israel and Ben Gurion University were founded over the ruins of our 531 Palestinian towns and villages destroyed by Zionist militias and, later, by the nascent Israeli army, the decision is evidently not enough, albeit an important step in the right direction,

The petition, backed by South African luminaries and anti-apartheid activists such as Breyten Breytenbach, John Dugard, Antjie Krog, Barney Pityana, Kader Asmal and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, demanded that the University of Johannesburg should apply the boycott unconditionally to Ben Gurion University until it ceases its complicity in Israel’s extensive violations of international law and until it terminates all privileges extended to the Israeli Occupation Forces.

We members of academia in Gaza encourage more action given the extent to which we have lost our brothers, sisters, mothers and fathers in the continuous Israeli attacks on the 1.5 million Palestinians under siege here, and given the extent to which the international community has rewarded Israel in the past with academic, cultural, trade and military links. Military support has included the 3 billion dollars a year from the US and notoriously included Israel’s own provision of weapons to the South African Apartheid regime when the world’s citizenry had joined the boycott movement of this other abominable major oppression based on racism.

During the bombing of Gaza, in what came to be known as the Sharpeville of Palestine, over New Year of 2009 more than 430 of our children were killed, more than 37 primary and secondary schools including 18 schools serving as shelters for the internally displaced were hit, the American International school was reduced to rubble, and Islamic University of Gaza (IUG) partially demolished. The fact-finding investigation conducted by the University of Johannesburg confirmed BGU’s links with the Israeli Occupation Force (IOF.

In light of these ongoing, yet unaccounted for crimes, as part of the 2005 Palestinian Civil Society Call for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS), and inspired by the boycott that put an end to South African Apartheid, we demand the complete academic boycott of Ben Gurion University as outlined by the petition itself and guidelines set by the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI), fully supported by anti apartheid-hero Archbishop Desmond Tutu who has said:

“Palestinians have chosen, like we did, the nonviolent tools of boycott, divestment and sanctions.”

South African universities with their own long and complex histories of both support for apartheid and resistance know more than anyone, perhaps, the value of this nonviolent resistance. “Israeli Universities, including BGU, are an intimate part of the Israeli regime, by active choice,” as Archbishop Tutu said. And, as the unprecedented South African petition by academics says, “While Palestinians are not able to access universities and schools, Israeli universities produce the research, technology, arguments and leaders for maintaining the occupation.”

We expect all post-Apartheid Academic institutions, including UJ, to join the momentum around the world, particularly among academics, who are heeding the call of the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement. As our students continue to have their education restricted in all forms by the Israeli siege and occupation, discrimination based entirely on race and ethnicity, we hope the University of Johannesburg takes note and joins unconditionally the boycott movement of Israeli academia – the oppressed majority of South Africans in the Apartheid era would have expected nothing less.

Besieged Gaza,

University Teachers’ Association in Palestine
Palestinian Students’ Campaign for the Academic Boycott of Israel

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