October 4, 2010
S. African university puts Ben-Gurion U. on notice
The University of Johannesburg’s faculty Senate voted to sever a longstanding relationship with an Israeli university unless certain conditions are met.
Voting on the university’s relationship with Ben-Gurion University, the Senate required that the two institutions amend their joint Memorandum of Understanding to include Palestinian universities, according to a statement released Sept. 29 by the University of Johannesburg.
Additionally, the South African university said it would not engage in any activities with Ben-Gurion that have direct or indirect military implications.
The conditions must be met by April 1 or the relationship between the two institutions will end, according to the statement.
After an agreement between the universities to collaborate on biotechnology and water purification projects was announced last year, several Johannesburg faculty members protested the collaboration. The university appointed a committee to report on the possibility of a boycott and get back to the Senate. The report was heard at the Sept. 29 meeting, at which time the committee’s recommendation was approved.
Ben-Gurion’s leadership is “deeply disturbed” by the boycott campaign, according to a statement released last week by the university. The campaign was championed by Nobel laureate Desmond Tutu and at least 200 other prominent South African figures and academics.
“The joint research project is designed to solve real problems of water contamination in a reservoir near Johannesburg and as such is for the direct benefit of the residents of the region,” the statement said. “BGU sees this joint project as an opportunity to make its well-reputed expertise in water research available to improve the welfare of the South African people.”
The executive committee of the Higher Education South Africa, an association of 23 public universities in the country, could take up the issue when it meets next week, the British newspaper Mail and Guardian reported.