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‘Elected by Donors’: The University of Cape Town fails Palestine, embraces Israel 

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It was a scandal of the highest caliber. On 23 November, the senate of the University of Cape Town (UCT) in South Africa was practically bullied into reversing an earlier decision calling for the academic boycott of Israel. While the story may seem relevant in South Africa’s political and academic contexts, in reality, it exemplifies the nature of a brewing war between supporters of Palestinian rights and Israeli interests, worldwide.

In fact, the UCT scandal began much earlier.

Calls for South African universities to join the academic boycott of apartheid Israel were first answered by the University of Johannesburg on 29 September, 2010. Decisive action taken by the faculty senate at the university sent a clear message to Israel’s academic institutions, that South African academics would no longer accommodate Israeli crimes, including the crime of apartheid, in the name of scientific cooperation or “academic freedom”.

The severing of ties, between the University of Johannesburg and Israel’s Ben Gurion University, sounded the alarm among Israel’s supporters in South Africa, under the leadership of the South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD), which fanned out throughout the country, warning of the supposed rise of anti-Semitism.

However, the successful campaign in Johannesburg inspired other student groups across the country to carry on with their mission of holding the Israeli state accountable for its racism, apartheid and military occupation. In August 2012, the Student Representative Council at the University of Witwatersrand adopted a resolution that called for a full academic and cultural boycott of Israel.

READ: South Africa’s post-apartheid foreign policy on Israel-Palestine

Support for Palestine continued. In response to the deadly Israeli war on Gaza in the summer of 2014, more than 300 members of Rhodes University in Grahamstown, including the university’s vice-chancellor, Dr. Sizwe Maisel,........

© Middle East Monitor