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UCT mulls plan to boycott Israeli varsities

UCT’s senate has agreed to a more consultative process on a proposal calling for the boycott of Israeli universities in occupied Palestinian territories.

UCT spokesperson Elijah Moholola said the senate also agreed that the UCT executive would determine how the consultation process should be carried out, and the executive would work on the implementation of the consultation process.

The council did not adopt the senate’s resolution, and its view was that a number of issues required clarification, including a full assessment of the sustainability impact of the senate resolution, and that a more consultative process was necessary before the matter could be considered further.

This comes after the senate took a resolution in favour of a proposal for the institution not to enter into any formal relationships with Israeli academic institutions operating in the occupied Palestinian territories.

The UCT Palestine Solidarity Forum said the boycott was devised by the academic freedom committee as part of a campaign for a boycott of all Israeli universities.

The forum said boycotting all universities condemned the state of Israel.

“Given that Israel routinely abuses Palestinian human rights, be it through racist laws, colonising Palestinian territories, demolishing Palestinian homes, unjustly imprisoning Palestinians, building walls, laying siege to Gaza or shooting children, we think that an academic boycott of all Israeli universities is justified as it would put pressure on the Israeli state to cease its illegal and immoral activities.”

The forum believes that Israeli universities are sites where the state’s ideology is promoted and reinforced.

Movement Progress SA chairperson Tami Jackson said: “If we accept an enforced academic boycott of Israeli institutions, we are bound in principle to accept an academic boycott of many other countries too.”

She said adopting policies against Israel would isolate UCT from the international academic community and damage its institutional reputation.

Source : Cape Argus, Sisonke Mlamla

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