UCT: Time to confirm boycott of Israel - PSC

Terry Crawford-Browne says all that country's academic institutions are complicity in human rights abuses

Call on University of Cape Town Council to ratify the boycott of Apartheid Israel

1 April 2019

The brazenness of the Zionist lobby and its so-called “Rule of Law Project” in exerting pressure against the University of Cape Town’s intention to impose an academic boycott of Israeli universities must be challenged by all South Africans, including the ANC government that is required to uphold the obligations of our Constitution.

That Israel is an apartheid state has been repeatedly established by international authorities including the United Nations, but even in 2018 by the Israeli government itself with its Nation State law.  Whilst the term apartheid originated in South Africa, its Zionist variant in Israel-Palestine is even worse than we experienced here -- as confirmed by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Judge Navi Pillay and Professor John Dugard.

Within “Israel proper,” more than 50 laws discriminate against Palestinian Israeli citizens on the basis of citizenship, language and land. Parallel to the apartheid South Africa’s notorious Group Areas Act, 93 percent of land in Israel is reserved for Jewish occupation only. And parallel to the equally notorious Mixed Marriages Act, marriage between Jews and non-Jews is prohibited.

“Beyond the green line,” the West Bank is a bantustan with even less autonomy than had the “independent” bantustan puppet governments of Bophuthatswana, Transkei, Ciskei and Venda. Even apartheid South Africa never had apartheid roads or apartheid walls, and the dompas was primitive compared with Israel’s vicious ID system that along with Israel’s dozens of control checkpoints deliberately ensures hours of delays in ordinary commuting by Palestinians even in medical emergency situations.

Apartheid – whether the South African or Israeli variety -- is now defined as a crime against humanity in international law, and is a crime under which universal jurisdiction applies. That Advocate Mark Oppenheimer cites section 9 of the South African Constitution and the Bill of Rights to make the spurious claim that a UCT boycott of Israeli institutions would be “unconstitutional” is totally unfounded. 

Section 9 (1) declares:  “Everyone is equal before the law and has the right to equal protection and benefit of the law.”  The Israeli government dismally fails the stipulations of sections 9 (2), (3), (4) and (5) both within “Israel proper” and in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.   Thus, for UCT to buckle under Zionist pressure would make a mockery of South Africa’s constitutional democracy.

The theft of Palestinian land and water plus expulsion of Palestinians from their properties is clearly prohibited by international law, including the Fourth Geneva Convention. The UN annually reaffirms the right of Palestinian refugees to return to the land from which they were forcibly expelled in 1947-1949, 1967 and right up to the present day. The Israeli government unlawfully ignores the Palestinian right of return.

Having falsely claimed that a UCT decision to impose an academic boycott of Israeli institutions is unconstitutional, Oppenheimer outrageously also demands that in pursuit of freedom of expression as well as academic freedom, universities should actively oppose dissemination of research that confirms Israel to be an apartheid state.

In addition to UN documentation, such a prohibition and censorship would presumably include the SA Human Science Research Council’s report in 2009 entitled Occupation, Colonialism, Apartheid and Dugard’s book Confronting Apartheid published in 2018. Of the latter, Constitutional Court Judge Edwin Cameron has written: it “reminds us powerfully of the need to confront racial oppression wherever it occurs.”

Zionist smears of anti-Semitism whenever Israel is revealed to violate international law no longer intimidate critics including, for instance, South African Jews for a Free Palestine or members of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) many of whom happen to be Jewish. Both organizations (plus many others) have urged UCT to join the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Campaign against apartheid Israel.

The UCT Council on 30 March appropriately resolved to reaffirm its support for universal human rights and freedom. It also “reserved the right to disassociate itself from academics and academic institutions that support (directly or indirectly) the violation of human rights and/or enabled the violation of human rights.”

That all Israeli academic institutions are complicit in human rights abuses against Palestinians including war crimes is illustrated by the research they conduct for the Israeli armaments industry, which then markets and exports weapons as “battle tested and proven on Palestinians” and as “turning Palestinian blood into money.”

Israel exports such weapons to 130 countries, including for use in Myanmar against Rohingya Muslims, to India for use against Pakistan, and to numerous African countries to keep dictators in power against plunder of natural resources such as diamonds, cobalt, coltan and oil. Let us also remember that the G3 semi-automatic rifles used at the Marikana massacre in 2012 were of Israeli origin, albeit manufactured in South Africa.

Accordingly, the PSC calls upon the UCT Council as a matter of urgency to reject the smear tactics of the Zionist lobby, and to ratify the decision on 15 March of the UCT Senate.

Issued by Terry Crawford-Browne on behalf of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, 1 April 2019