Students in a classroom [Illustrative].
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Representatives of student representative councils at five South African universities announced that they would begin pressuring their schools to cut ties with Israel on Monday.
Speaking at a press conference in Pretoria, student leaders from the University of South Africa, Cape Town University of Technology, Mangasutho University of Technology, Durban University of Technology and the University of the Western Cape stated that their respective SRCs had all adopted resolutions to " join the academic and cultural boycott of Israel."
The students said they were following a 2011 mandate of the South African Union of Students which urged "all SRCs, student groups and other youth structures to strategize and implement a boycott" and that they would push their respective universities to divest from Israel. In pursuit of this goal, the student groups will also "be auditing our universities' investment funds and service providers to ensure that companies that are in violation of the BDS call and complicit in the Israeli Occupation...are excluded from investment funds and service contracts."
On Wednesday Mcebo Dlamini, the president of the Wits SRC, was terminated after posting "I love Adolf Hitler" on Facebook, underscoring the significance of the challenges facing Jews on South African campuses. In March students at the University of Cape Town were appalled to find posters swastikas and images of Adolf Hitler plastered around their campus as part of a campaign to remove a statue of British businessman and colonialist Cecil John Rhodes.
The SRC leaders who announced their intent to join the BDS movement against Israel said that they "are against all forms of racism including anti-semitism and Zionism" and that "conflating criticism of Israel's colonial policies of Occupation and Apartheid can not and should not be equated with anti-Semitism; to do so is a disservice to the real victims of anti-Semitism."
"This tactic by the pro-Israeli lobby to falsely accuse those critical of Israel of being anti-Semitic is a standard practice which we outrightly condemn," they added.
Last week the BDS movement announced that it was planning on expelling the Israeli ambassador itself should the government fail to do so.