The University of Cape Town Palestine Solidarity Forum held a rally on campus Thursday calling on thee school’s administration and the Student Representative Council to adopt a resolution supporting the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement against Israel.
The council wrote on its Facebook page ahead of the rally that it would officially deliver memorandums to the council and the administration during the event, and that it “will be accepted” by SRC president Mangi Gondwe and UCT Vice Chancellor Max Price.
“Israel’s current assault on Gaza has resulted in the deaths of over 1,800 Palestinians and the injury of over 9,000. We call on the UCT Student Representative Council to condemn Israel’s unjust collective punishment of the Palestinian people, and at the same time to recognize that this attack is not an aberration, but is part of the ongoing systematic oppression of Palestine. Because of our history, it is incumbent on the UCT SRC to explicitly condemn Israel as an apartheid, colonial state,” the forum’s memorandum said.
The memorandum called on the student council to issue an unconditional declaration that Israel is an apartheid state; support BDS at the university as well as nationally and internationally; call on the South African government to cut ties with Israel and expel its ambassador; and be a “progressive force” in pressuring university management to adopt these demands.
The memorandum called on the university to end its contract with G4S Plc. security company, which it said provides security systems for the “illegal apartheid wall,” i.e. the West Bank security barrier, as well as for Israeli prisons.
“After 10 years of Israeli Apartheid Week, and 65 years after the Nakba, it is clear that Israel’s policies of ethnic exclusion and discrimination constitute apartheid,” the forum wrote. “We urge the SRC to adopt this call and join the growing global movement for justice in Palestine.”
An unconfirmed source told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday that the Student Representative Council already held an impromptu meeting on Monday endorsing the memorandum by a vote of nine to three, with three abstentions.
The South African Union of Jewish Students released a statement on Wednesday on social media condemning the decision and calling on Cape Town students to hold the council accountable, insisting it reverse its “unconstitutional and regrettable” decision.
“It has come to our attention that the SRC at the University of Cape Town has adopted a resolution that represents a flagrant violation of the rights of students on campus,” the statement read.
According to the Union of Jewish Students, the resolution was adopted without the “procedural consultation and input” of the majority of the university’s students.
“Most importantly, the SRC has failed to respect the multitude of opinions held by its’ close to 27 000 strong constituency. Recognizing that no consultations were held, the SRC’s adoption of this resolution represents nothing more than their personal opinions and a violation of the duty they undertook once duly elected,” the Union of Jewish Students wrote.
Furthermore, the Union of Jewish Students wrote that the resolution “stands in contravention of the South African Constitution and the enshrined rights which the Bill of Rights was purposed to protect.”
The Student Representative Council did not respond to requests for comment by press time.