ISSUED BY THE PALESTINE SOLIDARITY ALLIANCE-Today, Wednesday, 29 September 2010, the University of Johannesburg’s (UJ) highest academic body voted to conditionally terminate its partnership agreement with Israel’s Ben-Gurion University (BGU). The decision, made at UJ’s Soweto campus, stands as a historic first step in refusing institutional affiliations between South African universities and Israeli institutions that are complicit in the occupation.
A fact-finding investigation conducted by the University confirmed BGU’s links with the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) and complicity in the Israeli occupation. Accepting the recommendations of the report, UJ has committed itself to end any research or teaching relationship with BGU that has direct or indirect military links; or in instances where human rights abuses are identified.
UJ boldly stated that its principles include “solidarity with any oppressed population”, and that they will accordingly act on the views of Palestinian universities and academics.
The decision follows a significant public campaign, gaining momentum with a nationwide academic petition signed by more than 250 of South Africa’s leading academics and writers, including Professors Breyten Breytenbach, John Dugard, Antjie Krog, Mahmood Mamdani, Kader Asmal and Allan Boesak (www.ujpetition.com). The campaign received the significant backing of South Africa’s largest trade union, COSATU; the Student Representative Council of UJ, as well as four South African Vice-Chancellors (three current and one former).
UJ’s decision must now be taken further. The isolation of the Israeli regime by South Africa is well underway as we further our historical responsibility to ensuring an end to Apartheid in all its forms.
University of Pretoria: After more than 100 students signed a petition complaining about the academic credibility of Hussein Solomon’s paper Global Jihad and Terrorism in Africa: Sub-Saharan Africa, Islamic Fundamentalist Ideologies in Africa and most recently, Global Jihad: The South African Front which was hosted at a UP seminar in March, the Dean of Humanities, Sandra Klopper said she could not prevent Hussein’s participation in the seminar series since his paper had already been accepted by the chairperson of the seminar series. She agreed however, that a difference existed between academic freedom, academic research and freedom of speech. ‘If freedom of speech infringes on tolerance and sensitivity about other people’s values, then you are in conflict with academic freedom in terms of free speech. There is a context to free speech,’ said Klopper. As a result, the dean has arranged a seminar debate which will be held on the 11th October 2010 and all interested parties are encouraged to attend to make this a landmark event.
What is Academic Freedom? Debate to be hosted by the Faculty of Humanities, University of Pretoria.
Date: Monday, 11 October, 17:30-19:30 (RSVP by 1 Oct: corena.garnas[at]up.ac.za:)
Venue: Sanlam Auditorium, Conference Centre, University of Pretoria-Hatfield
Speakers: Professor Kader Asmal, Faculty of Law, Centre for Humanities, University of the Western Cape, and former Minister of Education
Professor Adam Habib, deputy vice-chancellor, University of Johannesburg
Dr Lis Lange, executive director of the Higher Education Quality Committee, Council on Higher Education
Professor Nthabiseng Ogude, Vice-principal, University of Pretoria
Event chair: Professor Pippa Green, head of journalism, University of Pretoria