‘Antisemitic’ academic pushed for boycott of Israeli professors in 2018

Mbembe and another academic took the lead to boycott Prof. Shifra Sagy, a psychology professor at Ben-Gurion University, who was disinvited from the South African Stellenbosch University’s conference in 2018.

Achille Mbembe (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Achille Mbembe
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
BERLIN – South African-based academic Achille Mbembe advocated an aggressive boycott of Israeli professors in 2018, casting fresh doubt on his statements that he supports free speech and is not part of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement targeting Israel.
Mbembe and another academic took the lead to boycott Prof. Shifra Sagy, a Ben-Gurion University of the Negev psychology professor, who was disinvited from a 2018 conference at Stellenbosch University in South Africa. New York-based journalist Ben Cohen on Monday first reported in Algemeiner about the BDS action carried out by Mbembe.
In November 2018, Mbembe issued an anti-Israel statement with Sarah Nuttall for the “Recognition, Reparation and Reconciliation Conference.”
Nuttall is professor of literary and cultural studies and director of the Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research in Johannesburg, where Mbembe teaches.
Nutall and Mbembe wrote: “We, like a large number of South African and international scholars, firmly oppose Israeli occupation of Palestinian land and support the boycott as a non-violent strategy for ending the occupation.
“We have sympathy for those Israeli academics whose own work as well as political positions are critical of the Israeli occupation and who, as such, are in dispute with their respective institutions or, in some cases, ostracized.”
“We let the organisers know this morning that we would have no option but to withdraw from the conference if a satisfactory agreement was not found between the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement and the Organising Committee,” they added. “A short while ago, we were informed by the organisers that the Israeli speakers who were on the program have rescinded their participation at the conference and for this reason, we are open to participating in the conference.”
Previous Jerusalem Post reports disclosed Mbembe’s BDS activities from 2015 against Ben-Gurion professors, including his written call for “global isolation” of the Jewish state.
The Post sent a press query to Mbembe.
Mbembe is part of an alleged widening antisemitism scandal involving his reported minimizing of the Holocaust, glorification of terrorism and support for BDS. Senior German diplomat Andreas Görgen may be included in this year’s Simon Wiesenthal Center’s top-10 list for worst outbreaks of antisemitism and anti-Israelism due to his promotion of Mbembe on Twitter.
Görgen stood side by side with Mbembe in a series of tweets in April. After the Post exposed Görgen’s pro-Mbembe tweets, he stopped tweeting in support of the pro-BDS academic.
Germany’s Bundestag classified BDS as an antisemitic movement last year. Post media and twitter queries to Görgen and the Foreign Ministry were not answered.
Cohen wrote: “At no point in recent weeks has Mbembe addressed his actions over the Stellenbosch conference, confining himself to general statements in support of academic freedom. In his interview with German radio, Mbembe went on to argue that the row over his festival invite suggested that Germany was struggling ‘to uphold three key principles of any liberal state: the freedom of conscience, the freedom of expression and academic freedom.’”
Mbembe was invited to speak at a German cultural and music festival this summer, but he faced intense criticism for his alleged antisemitism. The festival was canceled.