South Africa: SRCs of five more universities join academic boycott of Israel

South Africans campaign against apartheid Israel.

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May 4, 2015 -- BDS South Africa, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- We gather here today as the Student Representative Council (SRC) presidents of five of South African universities, namely: University of South Africa, Cape Peninsula University of Technology, Durban University of Technology, Mangasutho University of Technology and the University of the Western Cape. This day will go down in history as we announce the resolutions adopted by our University Student Representative Councils to join the academic and cultural boycott of Israel.

Today we follow the mandate provided in 2011 by the South African Union of Students (which represents all SRCs in the country) which urged "all SRCs, student groups and other youth structures to strategise and implement a boycott of Israel”. SAUS declared in August 2011 that “all South African campuses must be Apartheid-Israel free zones”.

Today we join the ranks of the SRCs of Wits University and the University of Cape Town who also resolved to join the academic boycott of Israel in 2012 and 2014 respectively. We also join the revolutionary decision by the University of Johannesburg that in 2011 terminated its relations with Israel’s Ben Gurion University. Finally and most importantly, our BDS resolution in support of the boycott of Israel follows South Africa’s Minister of Higher Education and Training Dr Blade Nzimande’s call and support for the academic boycott of Apartheid Israel.

From here we will be formally writing and approaching the senate as well as councils of our various institutions to implement the academic and cultural boycott of Israel. We will be auditing our universities' investment funds and service providers to ensure that companies that are in violation of the BDS call and complicit in the Israeli Occupation such as G4S Security, Caterpillar, Veolia, Alstom, Cape Gate etc. are excluded from investment funds and service contracts. We are also in bilateral engagement with other South African SRCs to also adopt such resolutions and in general will be supporting awareness-raising campaigns such as the annual Israeli Apartheid Week initiative. We will be supporting the call for an Israeli academic boycott conference in South Africa with the minister of higher education and training Dr Blade Nzimande.

Our resolutions in support of the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement comes just less than a year after Israel killed more than 2000 Palestinians in Gaza of which more than 500 of those killed were children. Israel also attacked several schools of the United Nations, more than 200 Palestinian schools and a school for disabled children. The Israeli regime is proving itself to be anti-children, anti-student and anti-education. We are here to stand for peace, justice and equality.

We make it clear, we are against all forms of racism including anti-semitism and Zionism. However, conflating criticism of Israel's colonial policies of Occupation and apartheid cannot and should not be equated with anti-Semitism; to do so is a disservice to the real victims of anti-Semitism. This tactic by the pro-Israeli lobby to falsely accuse those critical of Israel of being anti-Semitic is a standard practice which we outrightly condemn. On a positive note we welcome the support provided by progressive Jewish organisations, comrades and counterparts for the BDS movement and the Palestinian struggle.

It is no coincidence that Miriam Makeba Hall at South Africa's largest university, the University of South Africa, was chosen for today's press conference. The cultural boycott of Apartheid South Africa in the 1980s (which Miriam Makeba was part of) is currently being employed against Apartheid Israel. We join Miriam Makeba in declaring "A Luta Continua…” until Palestine is free, for, in the word of former president Nelson Mandela, a graduate of UNISA: “We know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians”.

Song by Miriam Makeba:

Jointly issued on behalf of five South African university SRCs:

President Mduduzi Mabuza, University of South Africa

President Khuthadzo Kevin Manavhela, Cape Town University of Technology

President Philane Hlatswayo, Mangasutho University of Technology

President Mqondisi Duma, Durban University of Technology

President Vuyani Sokhaba, University of the Western Cape