South African Jewry lauds university for shunning Israel boycott call

PRETORIA, South Africa (JTA) — The South African Jewish Board of Deputies applauded Witwatersrand University institutions for standing against the resolution by the university’s Student Representative Council for a cultural and academic boycott of Israel.

”In separate statements the University itself, its acting vice-chancellor and principal, and the Wits Convocation have all strongly distanced themselves from the SRC’s action," the Board of Deputies said in a Sept. 6 statement on its website. "All three statements affirm the importance of diversity of views of staff, students, and alumni, regardless of religion, gender, culture, language, ideology or otherwise.”

Mary Kluk, the board’s chairwoman, in referring to the statement by the Wits University Convocation distancing itself from the boycott resolution, wrote that "This forthright declaration reveals that at the leadership level, proponents of academic boycotts at this prestigious institution remain no more than a fringe element. We hope that the Wits example will be followed by all our academic institutions countrywide."

Kluk in the statement also hailed positive developments in South Africa-Israel relations, despite the boycott resolution and a call recently by Ebrahim Ebrahim, South Africa’s deputy minister of international relations and cooperation, not to visit Israel.

She wrote that a meeting last week between Israeli Science and Technology Minister Daniel Hershkowitz and South African Deputy Science Minister Derek Hanekom proved to be successful.

Wendy Kahn of the Board of Deputies told JTA that it will continue to create and encourage dialogue frameworks in which to further discuss Israel-South Africa relations.
 

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