Pro-Palestinian protest in South Africa. (AP/Schalk van Zuydam) (AP/Schalk van Zuydam)
South Africa Palestinian Protest

University of South Africa

The University of South Africa. (Wikicommons)

Five South African universities have joined the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel this week, accusing the Jewish state of apartheid.

Student Representative Councils (SRC) of five South African universities announced Wednesday that they have joined the academic and cultural boycott of Israel, following the leadership of the anti-Israel Boycott, Divest and Sanction (BDS) movement.

The SRC presidents of the University of South Africa, Cape Peninsula University of Technology, Durban University of Technology, Mangasutho University of Technology and the University of the Western Cape stated at a press conference in Pretoria that “this day will go down in history…[as they] join the academic and cultural boycott of Israel.”

They said they were following the mandate provided in 2011 by the South African Union of Students, which represents all SRCs in the country, urging “all SRCs, student groups and other youth structures to strategize and implement a boycott of Israel” and that “all South African campuses must be Apartheid-Israel free zones.”

The SRCs of Wits University and the University of Cape Town joined the academic boycott of Israel in 2012 and 2014 respectively.

boycott israel

The five SRC presidents also joined the decision by the University of Johannesburg in 2011 to terminate their relationship with Israel’s Ben-Gurion University of the Negev.

They stated that their “BDS resolution in support of the boycott of Israel” follows South African Minister of Higher Education and Training Blade Nzimande’s support for the academic boycott of Apartheid Israel.

Nzimande, who had planned to visit the Palestinian Bir Zeit University in Ramallah, was denied entry into Israel in April.

“The wild attacks by the South African Community Party against Israel following our refusal to allow the higher education minister to pass through Israel en route to the Palestinian Authority is hypocrisy,” Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman said at the time.

The student bodies vowed to spread the boycott of Israel to other academic institutions, saying they will be auditing their universities’ investment funds and service providers to ensure that companies in violation of the BDS call and “complicit in the Israeli Occupation” are excluded from investment funds and service contracts.

Blade Nzimande

Blade Nzimande (R). (AP/Themba Hadebe)

They also strongly claimed that they were not motivated by anti Semitism. However, the Jerusalem Post reports that last Wednesday, Mcebo Dlamini, president of the Wits SRC, was terminated after posting “I love Adolf Hitler” on Facebook. In March, students at the University of Cape Town were appalled to find posters with swastikas and images of Hitler plastered around their campus as part of a campaign to remove a statue of British businessman and colonialist Cecil John Rhodes.