Ben-Gurion University
Photo: Herzel Yosef

S. African professors shun boycott bid

University of Johannesburg asks Ben-Gurion U. to work with Palestinians; no vote on boycott initiate

University of Johannesburg professors rejected calls to sever ties with an Israeli university Wednesday, but called on Ben-Gurion University to work with its Palestinian counterparts.


Calls for similar academic boycotts to protest Israel's Palestinian policies also have failed in the West.


The South African university's faculty senate met Wednesday to vote on the proposal, which had been endorsed by anti-apartheid icon Archbishop Desmond Tutu, but instead accepted a compromise without a vote. They asked Ben-Gurion University to work with Palestinian universities on research projects, and to start the collaborations within six months if it wants to maintain ties with the University of Johannesburg.


UJ Vice Chancellor Adam Habib said the compromise reflected his institution's values.


"We believe in reconciliation," Habib said. "We'd like to bring BGU and Palestinian universities together to produce a collective engagement that benefits everyone."


The universities have joint research projects and academic exchanges on biotechnology and water purification.


'Universities intimate part of regime'

Relations between Ben-Gurion University and Rand Afrikaans University, a formerly all-white university under South Africa's apartheid system, began in 1987. The University of Johannesburg, created in 2005, took over various campuses including Rand Afrikaans University and a university in the black township of Soweto as part of efforts to ensure higher education was transformed with the rest of South Africa after the end of apartheid.


Tutu and more than 200 prominent South African academics had supported ending UJ's links with the Israeli institution.


"Israeli universities are an intimate part of the Israeli regime, by active choice," Tutu wrote in an essay that appeared in a South African newspaper Sunday. "While Palestinians are not able to access universities and schools, Israeli universities produce the research, technology, arguments and leaders for maintaining the occupation."


פרסום ראשון: 09.29.10, 18:47
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