South African Students Boycott Israeli Universities

Students at a major S. African university vote to boycott Israeli institutions, possibly setting themselves up for an academic whiplash.<br/>

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Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu,

Boycott supporter
Boycott supporter
Israel news photo: Flash 90

Students at a major South African university have voted to boycott Israeli institutions, possibly setting themselves up for an academic whiplash.

The University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) Student Representative Council (SRC) representatives unanimously adopted a boycott resolution, brought by the Wits Palestine Solidarity Committee, according to the Pro-Palestinian Authority Alternative News website.

The resolution states that the University will “not participate in any form of cultural or academic collaboration or joint projects with Israeli institutions and will not provide support to Israeli cultural or academic institutions”.

Going beyond many resolutions at other universities that have proposed boycotts of Israel, the South African students also voted to demand “an investigation into any associations the University has with Israeli institutions including academic relations, financial relations, and cultural relations. The SRC of Wits University has committed itself to ‘actively campaign and lobby for the University to divest from such relations to further support the boycott of Israel and justice in Palestine’ upon the discovery of such existing relations.”

The 2009 Times Higher Education-QS World University Rankings ranked Wits as 250-275 in the world.

Two years ago, the University of Johannesburg voted to cut ties with Ben Gurion University of the Negev, considered one of the most leftist institutions in Israel and one which promotes Bedouin-Jewish co-existence.

A total boycott of Israeli institutions would cut off students and professors from accessing Israeli research, an area in which Israel has been noted as one of the world’s leaders in several fields, particularly in medicine and technology.

South Africa has increasingly joined the “Boycott Israel” movement, and government officials recently voted to remove the “Made in Israel” label from any products that originate or are shipped from Judea and Samaria, which they call “occupied Palestinian territory.”

South African International Relations and Cooperation Deputy Minister Ebrahim Ebrahim said two weeks ago that the government does not have an official anti-Israel policy but added that it discourages its citizens from visiting Israel “because continued visits would send a message that what is happening to the Palestinians is being supported."   

“We believe that Israel is an occupying power,” he explained.