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BDS claims hollow academic boycott victory

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BDS says their Monday resolution followed Minister Blade Nzimande’s call for an academic boycott. But it is not going to have any effect. If it did, however, it would cost South African jobs and benefits.
by ANT KATZ | May 06, 2015


No Win for BDS


On Monday May 4, the South African affiliate of the US-based NGO, “Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (Israel),” BDS-SA announced with some fanfare that five South African universities’ Student Representative Councils (SRCs) had joined an academic boycott of Israel.

BDS’ resolution, they said, followed South Africa’s “Minister of Higher Education and Training Dr Blade Nzimande’s call and support for the academic boycott”.

University of South Africa, Cape Peninsula University of Technology, Durban University of Technology, Mangosutho University of Technology and the University of the Western Cape SRCs have now, supposedly, implemented “an academic and cultural boycott of Israel”. “This day will go down in history,” promised BDS. And then they must have wondered why their historical announcement was not widely carried in the media. SRCs have nothing at all to do with the decision-making processes of universities in this regard.

While they boasted that they were joining “the revolutionary decision by the University of Johannesburg that in 2011 terminated its relations with Israel’s Ben-Gurion University”, that decision was not impacted by any decision of UJ’s SRC.

Despite the threat of boycotts of Israeli universities, the exchange of information and the scientific research coming out of these institutions is having a very positive impact on South African industry.

When the present Israeli ambassador, Arthur Lenk, presented his credentials to President Jacob Zuma, he handed Zuma a basket of fruit and vegetables grown in all nine South African provinces, with the assistance of Israeli technology and services.

Last month, Prof Ronnie Friedman from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, told Jewish Report that Israeli drip irrigation systems were commonly used throughout South Africa. Other areas of co-operation include crop sciences and seed development and production.

One of the biggest fields of research where Israel is currently assisting South Africa, said Friedman, was with ensuring the survival of bees. “South Africa is losing bees fast,” he said, and this could have a catastrophic impact on the pollination of crops.

The Hebrew University research project is being co-funded by the South African government, local agricultural interests and the Israelis had even raised money from overseas.

Hebrew University, said Friedman, had been tasked with coming up with a solution - something that they were well on the way to delivering.

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