Pro-Palestine solidarity groups say it is a contradiction to allow participation of Israeli academics who have not categorically distanced themselves from or denounced Israeli oppression of Palestinians at a conference that aims to deepen understanding of trans-generational trauma and to develop strategies to deal with the repercussions of genocide, colonial oppression and mass violence.

Durban- The South African Zionist Federation has hit back at the exclusion of Israeli academics who were due to attend a conference in Cape Town next week.

In a statement, the organisation said the retracted invites to the academics was silencing them and discriminatory against the eight scholars who were supposed to be presenting at the conference that was to be held from December 5-9.

The organisation said the withdrawal of the invite was ironic especially as the theme of the conference was: “Recognition, Reparation, Reconciliation: The Light and Shadow of Historical Trauma”.

“Anti-Israel lobby groups pressurised the conference organisers to disinvite the Israeli and Palestinian academics. 

The Israeli academics were removed from the conference programme purely and simply because they were Israeli, and the Palestinian academic was removed because he has shown a more moderate position on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” the organisation said in its statement. 

It argued that this also went against the principle of academic freedom which was part of the South African constitution and government was supposed to uphold.

Earlier today, Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions of South Africa had welcomed the news of the academics’ invite being withdrawn. In a statement, the organisation said they were happy that Stellenbosch University had decided to withdraw the invite. 

“In particular we commend the conference organisers for their respectful engagements and ultimate decision to respect the PACBI (Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel) guidelines for the implementation of the academic boycott against Israel.”

In response, the SAZF said the conference had become “hollow” and would be notorious for operating against its very theme and people who attended the conference would be poorer for silencing the academics who could have made meaningful contributions.

Daily News