UCT's plan for academic boycott of Israel sent back to senate

The University of Cape Town is extending financial aid to postgraduate students who do not qualify for NSFAS or National Research Fund grants.

The University of Cape Town is extending financial aid to postgraduate students who do not qualify for NSFAS or National Research Fund grants.

Published Apr 1, 2019


Cape Town - The call for an academic boycott against universities in Israel and the tensions resulting from it are set to continue at UCT after a senate resolution on the issue referred to council was sent back to senate.

UCT Palestine Solidarity Forum (PSF) chairperson Alex Hotz said they did not understand the council’s logic of sending the decision back to senate, when senate had already voted to sanction all Israeli universities operating in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and all Israeli universities enabling the violation of human rights.

The forum urged the senate to reaffirm its decision to sanction the universities engaged in the “violation of human rights”.

“As the PSF, we call for complete Palestinian liberation, not just an end to the Israeli violation of Palestinian human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. However, we recognise that this is an important step towards the ultimate liberation.”

Hotz said this is a significant victory. “It is very noteworthy that by council’s resolution, we have lost nothing. We have only gained and advanced - not as much as we had hoped. It is an important step towards UCT adopting the academic boycott of Israel,” Hotz said.

UCT registrar and secretary to council Royston Pillay said the council did not adopt the resolution of the senate because it was of the view that a number of issues required clarification, including a full assessment of the sustainability impact of the senate resolution, and a more consultative process was necessary before the matter could be considered any further.

Pillay said the council separately resolved to reaffirm its commitment to supporting the rights and freedom of all people as universally recognised under international law. SA Zionist Federation chairperson Rowan Polovin commended the council’s decision.

“We commend the decision to reject an unconstitutional measure that would restrict academic freedom at UCT and discriminate against Jewish and Christian students,” Polovin said.

“UCT must irrevocably reject the campaign of hate, targeted only against Israel, which does severe and lasting damage to the institution. We call on the university to show courage and dismiss the academic boycott campaign outright, and spend its time on more important and pressing issues,” Polovin said.

Movement Progress SA chairperson Tami Jackson welcomed the decision, and said they consider it as a temporary victory and one that vindicates the efforts made by their organisation and other “freedom-loving” formations that have made submissions for consideration by council.


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