New York, NY, March 24, 2011 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today condemned a decision by the University of Johannesburg (UJ) in South Africa to sever its ties with Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU), saying this "misguided and shortsighted" academic boycott would ill-serve South Africans, Palestinians and Israelis, and do nothing to promote reconciliation and understanding.
BGU and UJ enjoyed a formal partnership, and experts from both institutions were working on projects related to water purification and algae management – efforts which were of tremendous importance to clean water-starved South Africa. With this decision, the formal memorandum of understanding will be severed as of April 1.
"The decision by the University of Johannesburg to sever ties with Ben Gurion University was misguided and shortsighted," said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director. "In demonizing and rejecting BGU solely because it is an Israeli academic institution, this highly political decision does nothing to promote Israeli-Palestinian reconciliation and understanding. Moreover, it will deprive all South Africans of the new technologies being developed by BGU scientists to purify water."
Over the past year, a group of anti-Israel activists in South Africa– including longtime anti-Israel activists Desmond Tutu and Adam Habib – launched a campaign calling on UJ to sever its formal relationship with BGU as a means to promote the academic boycott of Israeli institutions. In October, ADL called on the University of Johannesburg's University Council to "make a stand for academic freedom and fairness and reject these efforts to politicize its relationship with BGU".