Israel boycott threat at UCT – SAJBD and SAZF

Organisations say such a call undermines right to freedom of expression, as laid out in Section 16 of the Constitution

Proposed Academic Boycott of Israeli Institutions at UCT

31 August 2017

Dear Community Member

The South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) and South African Zionist Federation (SAZF) wish to draw your attention to a campaign calling for an academic and cultural boycott of Israel at the University of Cape Town (UCT).

It must be stressed that no decision to boycott Israeli institutions has yet been taken by UCT. Rather, the matter has been raised for discussion at the UCT Academic Freedom Committee (AFC). This body is able to make recommendations for the University which can be considered by the UCT Council.  However, the AFC does not have the authority to make binding decisions on behalf of the University.

We have been working closely with the South African Union of Jewish Students (SAUJS) whose representatives will be making a presentation this week to the AFC, and have been in communication with University management, and other concerned organisations.  

We are concerned both about the nature of this campaign by anti-Israel groups on Campus, as well as the antisemitic rhetoric that may evolve from this debate and its implications for Jewish students who support the values of academic freedom. Calls for academic boycotts undermine the right to freedom of expression, as laid out in Section 16 of the South African Constitution. 

The SAJBD and SAZF unequivocally reject academic boycotts, whether aimed at Israeli institutions or those of any other country. Such initiatives are discriminatory and inconsistent with universal academic standards.

We are closely monitoring the situation and will update the community regarding further developments. 

Issued by the SAJBD and SAZF, 31 October 2017