UCT rejects boycott resolution
1 April 2019
The South African Zionist Federation (SAZF) welcomes UCT Council’s decision to reject the academic boycott motion that singles out the Jewish State for unique censure at the university.
The repudiation of the boycott by Council is an important victory over BDS-aligned groups that have been pressuring the university to cut ties with Israel. The unconstitutional resolution would have discriminated against Jewish and Christian students and academics, and severely undermined academic freedom at the institution.
The Council has now sent the motion back to the Senate to consider the ramifications that such an action would have upon the university. These include the erosion of academic freedom at UCT, permanent reputational damage, a fall in international university rankings, the loss of quality students and academics wishing to pursue their work without restriction, the risk of counter-boycott measures by international universities, and the perception that UCT is not a friendly place for Jewish students. Importantly, it would prevent UCT from accessing world-leading water, agricultural, medical and scientific technology developed at Israeli institutions that could be used to benefit all South Africans.
In addition, such a measure would undermine peace and reconciliation efforts between Israeli and Palestinian academics. Israeli universities, which are amongst the highest rated in the world, are also spaces of tolerance and multi-culturalism. Large numbers of Arab, Christian, Muslim and other faith groups, are to be found amongst their students and staff.
UCT should look to using its history and expertise to bring about dialogue and understanding in the Middle East, and stay clear of divisive boycott campaigns.
In this vain, we strongly reject the unwarranted statement by Council on the issue, which continues to single out Israel for alleged actions, but fails to call out the extremism and violence by many Palestinian groups.
The SAZF wishes to thank the many students, academics, alumni, activists and supporters from both within the Jewish community and outside, locally and internationally, who saw the dangers of this campaign and took a stand against it. It proves that by standing together we can fight radicalism in this country.
UCT must now irrevocably reject this campaign of hate against Israel. We call on the university to show courage, dismiss the academic boycott campaign outright.
Issued by Ben Swartz, National Chairman, SAZF, 1 April 2019