Unions cheer UJ cutting academic ties with Ben-Gurion university

Unions in South Africa have claimed a historic victory in their campaign to delegitimise Israel with the decision by the University of Johannesburg (UJ) to cut academic ties with Ben-Gurion University.

The South African union movement COSATU has been one of the key union supporters for the global BDS movement.

COSATU had earlier this month loudly demanded that UJ cut its ties with the Israeli university. COSATU  was supporting one of its affiliates the National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (NEHAWU)  who represent workers on campus. NEHAWU demanded their employer cut ties with Ben Gurion as part of the BDS campaign.

The decision to cut academic ties, announced this week,  has been welcomed by South Africa’s biggest local government union – SAMWU  – who have been a driving force in the anti-Israel campaign. SAMWU  officials have used some extremely vitriolic rhetoric against people they perceive as being pro-Israel in South Africa and across the globe.

On the same day as academic ties were cut – because of Ben-Gurion University’s claimed ties to the military and the military attacks on Gaza – the city of Beersheba, the Negev city where the  the Israeli university is based, came under rocket fire. While schools and kindergartens were shut Ben-Gurion university remained open.

In a statement released yesterday on SAMWU’s website they congratulated the University of Johannesburg:

The largest local Government Union, SAMWU, would like to congratulate the valiant decision by the University of Johannesburg (UJ) to cut ties with Israel’s Ben-Gurion University (BGU). This landmark victory was achieved yesterday in South Africa. A watershed victory for the international boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign of Israel.

The relationship was terminated on the basis of BGU’s complicity in Israeli apartheid.

It is a proud day for UJ, indeed for all South Africans, particularly for the over 400 academic signatories to the UJ Petition. The UJ Petition is a much publicised statement in support of UJ academics, workers and students who were calling on their university to end its apartheid-era relationship with BGU.

The UJ campaign managed to gain the unprecedented support of over 400 South African academics, including 9 South African Vice-Chancellors and Deputy Vice-Chancellors; 11 Deans and Vice Deans; 19 Heads of Department; 175 University Professors and 125 Academic Doctorates.

SAMWU encourages all other South African Universities and academic institutions to refuse to deal with any institution that openly supports Israeli apartheid and or oppression of fellow human beings. Other South African universities now have an example to follow. We will make sure those academic institutions in this country, which have ties with Israeli institutions immediately begin talks to end these relationships.

Apologists for apartheid Israel will try to -hypocritically- criticize and threaten UJ for their valiant and noble decision. The COSATU led Coalition for a Free Palestine has already begun discussions to work out ways and means to give practical support to UJ. Intimidation may be the order of the day in Israel but it has no place in South Africa.

SAMWU will make sure that it fights for the rights of the subjugated, from Swaziland to Palestine.

An injury to one is an injury to all!