Ultimatum – Schmaltimatum
If nothing happens in the meantime on the first of April the University of Johannesburg (UJ), Republic of South Africa will unilaterally terminate relations with Ben Gurion University of the Negev in Israel on the 1st April. This is on the basis of alleged incompatibility between BGU’s practices and UJ’s central values. April fools.
The precise incompatibility is unsure. Much of the blogsphere and those few mainstream outlets that have covered the story have referred to a special report commissioned by the South African university. However, the university has denied such a report exists. You can read the UJ explanation here.
On a more specific note the Joburgers demanded that Ben Gurion have relations with a Palestinian institution to be chosen with the direct involvement of UJ and the new Memorandum of Understanding between Ben Gurion and UJ be drawn up with Palestinian consultation. At writing I have not found a recent Israeli response to this ultimatum but I sincerely hope that Ben Gurion commemorates the split (if it happens) with a resounding unacademic “Go Fuck Yourselves“†.
The official response at the time was:
“The leadership of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) is deeply disturbed by the attempts of certain political groups…applying pressure on the University of Johannesburg to boycott BGU and cancel a signed research collaboration agreement.”
President Prof. Rivka Carmi said that “those opposed to this collaboration accuse BGU of ‘abusing academic freedom, abusing human rights and being an accomplice to an Apartheid government system in Israel.’ These accusations – and others made in their statements – are totally false and based upon ignorance and prejudice.”
What most publications seem to be referencing as the South African conditions from the report seem to be actually parts of a petition by South African academics attempting to persuade South African universities to engage in academic boycott of Israel. The UJ ultimatum is the first to take this further. It’s worth thinking about Ben Gurion’s crimes.
- It gave scholarships and extra tuition to students who served in Operation Cast Lead as does every Israeli institution.
- It is involved in denying access access to education for Palestinians because of its support for ‘occupation’and its provision of high education to Arabs of the Negev and employment of Arabs at all levels is no excuse.
- It suppresses dissentand the presence of Neve Gordon and probably the most radical individuals in Israeli acaddemia doesn’t give it a pass‡.
- It doesn’t give the Palestinians the right to adjudicate its relationships with 3rd parties. This is probably the most outrageous charge because it is true. Is there another university in the world that allows an institution in an other country such a say?
- It is involved with the IDF as is every Israeli educationional institution.
- Sign the South African Union of Jewish Students petition. Support Academic Freedom
- Write to the Senate
University of Johannesburg
PO Box 524
South Africa (Sorry they don’t supply an e-mail address).
† As a general rule Five Minutes for Israel does not use expletives. It also tries not to use euphemisms.
‡ If Gordon is consistent, he supports the boycott.