New York, NY, October 4, 2010 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today called on the University Council of the University of Johannesburg (UJ) in South Africa to "make a stand for academic freedom and fairness" and reaffirm its relationship with Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) and reject a "falsehood-filled campaign" to politicize a partnership which has greatly benefited both institutions and nations.
In recent months anti-Israel activists in South Africa have campaigned for UJ to sever a formal relationship with BGU as a means to promote the academic boycott of Israeli institutions. On September 29, the University Senate decided to continue with the relationship so long as BGU met certain conditions, such as including Palestinian universities in the partnership. Next, the UJ University Council will vote on the UJ-BGU relationship, and consider ratification of the University Senate decision.
Abraham H. Foxman,ADL National Director, issued the following statement:
Academic boycotts are antithetical to academic freedom and serve only to curtail the free exchange of ideas, which is the bedrock principle of higher education.
Those who are promoting the severing or limiting of ties between the University of Johannesburg and Ben-Gurion University of the Negev are engaging in a falsehood-filled campaign aimed at demonizing the State of Israel and Israeli academia. This effort is part of a larger international campaign to hold all Israelis, and in particular, Israeli academic and academic institutions accountable for government policy.
The UJ University Council must make a stand for academic freedom and fairness and reject these efforts to politicize its relationship with BGU.
The proponents of an academic boycott, including Desmond Tutu, have willfully and shamefully ignored the passionate, public debates about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict at Israeli academic institutions, and particularly at BGU, where the administration has been adamant about its faculty's freedom to express personal opinions.
They have also conveniently overlooked the fact that BGU has relationships with a number of Palestinian universities, and has sought to bring a Palestinian partner into its relationship with UJ. And, their campaign has disregarded the benefits of the fruitful joint UJ-BGU partnership, particularly in the field of water purification.