As a graduate of the University of Johannesburg and a resident of Gaza, I find it distressing that the university has signed an agreement with Israel’s Ben Gurion University despite the policy of ethnic cleansing and the latest war crimes committed against the people of Gaza by the nation’s government.
Israeli academic institutions are known to be complicit in Israel’s policy of colonization and apartheid. As such, an agreement with an academic institution goes against the words of Nelson Mandela, who said in 1997:
“It behoves all South Africans, themselves erstwhile beneficiaries of generous international support, to stand up and be counted among those contributing actively to the cause of freedom and justice … we know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians.”
Every day, millions of Palestinians are denied the full right to education in the occupied Palestinian territories and in the refugee camps of the diaspora. Education is denied because of Israeli checkpoints, the siege of Gaza and the apartheid-like discrimination faced by Palestinian students in Israel.
Thousands of Palestinian students and lecturers are in Israeli dungeons often without trial or sentenced by military courts. All credible international human rights and humanitarian organizations have detailed how the Israeli military deliberately targets Palestinian students and schools including UN schools. The recent Goldstone report corroborates these facts.
Palestinians stood with South Africans during the struggle against South African apartheid. We ask you to join us in our struggle against Israeli apartheid. Almost all Palestinian academics and a small but significant number of Israeli academics understand why Israeli institutions must be boycotted in the face of an intransigent, racist and militarized Israeli regime.
It is unconscionable that UJ becomes complicit in Palestinian oppression. I have no doubt that the vast majority of the UJ community based on my experience there, believe in the values of social justice and if they were aware of the appalling
atrocities I have witnessed, would not hesitate to support the petition opposing links with Israeli institutions.
Palestinians are an oppressed people without a state. We increasingly rely on international law and solidarity for our very survival.
Israel with the fourth largest army in the world has violated international law and numerous global conventions. Israel’s latest barbarity is the illegal use of white phosphorus against civilians killing 1,400 people including hundreds of children.
International jurists, including South Africans such as John Dugard consider Israel to have committed war crimes. In a comprehensive and meticulous report, senior researchers from South Africa’s own Human Sciences Research Council consider Israel to be an apartheid state.
The decision of UJ’s management executive committee must be reversed. South Africans, amidst all people, must not be on the “wrong side of history.”
Professor Haidar Eid The author is an independent political commentator and professor in the Department of English Literature at Al-Aqsa University in Gaza.