U. of J’burg says it doesn’t support boycotting Israel

After cutting academic ties with Ben-Gurion University, UJ says it is only ending "the formal institutional agreement between two universities."

Ben Gurion UNiversity 311 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Ben Gurion UNiversity 311
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The University of Johannesburg said Friday that it does not support an academic boycott of Israel, two days after the university’s senate voted to allow ties with the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) to lapse in April.
In a statement on Friday, Prof. Ihron Rensburg, vice-chancellor and principal of the University of Johannesburg (UJ) said “I need to make this quite clear. UJ is not part of an academic boycott of Israel. UJ holds the view that given the current situation in the Middle East the formal institutional agreement between UJ and BGU is an insurmountable obstacle to either institution facilitating a wider dialogue between Israeli and Palestinian academics.”
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The statement continued, “it has never been UJ’s intention to sever all ties with BGU, although it may have been the intention of some UJ staff members.
Rather, the UJ Senate voted to bring an end to the formal institutional agreement between the two universities which at this particular time, in the Senate’s view, creates an obstacle to cooperation between academics in Israel and Palestine.”
Last Wednesday, the UJ senate voted to end ties with BGU in April, a week after the school held a debate over a UJ-written report entitled “Findings on Ben-Gurion University of the Negev: Institutional complicity and active collaboration with Israeli military, occupation and apartheid practices.”
In addition, in September UJ launched a petition calling for the school to cut ties with BGU that gained the support of hundreds of South African activists and academics.
The ending of official ties between the universities means the cessation of water purification research projects that were being jointly conducted by the two institutions.