Letter from Palestinian Graduate of UJ

“It behoves all South Africans, themselves erstwhile beneficiaries of generous international support, to stand up and be counted among those contributing actively to the cause of freedom and justice…we know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians”
Nelson Mandela, Pretoria, 4th December, 1997.

As a graduate of UJ and a resident of Gaza, I find it distressing that UJ has signed an agreement with Ben Gurion University despite the policy of ethnic cleansing and the latest war crimes committed against the people of Gaza. These are not equal sides requiring an ‘even-handed’ approach. All Israeli academic institutions are known to be complicit in Israel's policy of colonization and apartheid.

Every day, millions of Palestinians are denied the full right to education in the occupied Palestinian territories and in the refugee camps of the Diaspora. Education is denied because of the Israeli checkpoints, the siege of Gaza and the apartheid-like discrimination faced by Palestinian students in Israel. Thousands of Palestinian students and lecturers are in Israeli dungeons often without trial or
sentenced by military courts. All credible international human rights and humanitarian organisations have detailed how the Israeli military deliberately targets Palestinian students and schools including UN
schools. The recent Goldstone report corroborates these facts.

Palestinians stood with South Africans during the struggle against South African apartheid. We ask you to join us in our struggle against Israeli apartheid. Almost all Palestinian academics and a small but
significant number of Israeli academics understand why Israeli institutions must be boycotted in the face of an intransigent, racist and militarised Israeli regime. It is unconscionable that UJ becomes
complicit in Palestinian oppression. I have no doubt that the vast majority of the UJ community based on my experience there, believe in the values of social justice and if they were aware of the appalling
atrocities I have witnessed, would not hesitate to support the petition opposing links with Israeli institutions. You cannot equate a rapist with a rape victim. Palestinians are an oppressed people
without a state. We increasingly rely on international law and solidarity for our very survival. Israel with the fourth largest army in the world has violated international law and numerous global
conventions. Israel’s latest barbarity is the illegal use of white phosphorus against civilians killing 1 400 people including hundreds of children.

International jurists, including South Africans such as John Dugard consider Israel to have committed war crimes. In a comprehensive and meticulous report, senior researchers from South Africa’s own Human
Sciences Research Council consider Israel to be an apartheid state.

Please join the momentum around the world, particularly among academics, who are heeding the call of the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement. Reverse the decision of UJ's management executive
committee. Don't be on the wrong side of history”.

Professor. Haidar Eid
Gaza, Palestine

“Nothing in my mind is more reprehensible than those habits of mind in the intellectual that induce avoidance, that characteristic turning away from a difficult and principled position which you know to be the right one, but which you decide not to take. You do not want to appear too political; you are afraid of seeming controversial; you need the approval of a boss or an authority figure; you want to keep a reputation for being balanced, objective, moderate; your hope is to be asked back, to consult, to be on a board or prestigious committee, and so to remain within the responsible mainstream; someday you hope to get an honorary degree, a big prize, perhaps even an ambassadorship. For an intellectual these habits of mind are corrupting par excellence. If anything can denature, neutralize, and finally kill a passionate intellectual life it is the internalization of such habits. Personally I have encountered them in one of the toughest of all contemporary issues, Palestine, where fear of speaking out about one of the greatest injustices in modern history has hobbled, blinkered, muzzled many who know the truth and are in a position to serve it. For despite the abuse and vilification that any outspoken supporter of Palestinian rights and self-determination earns for him or herself, the truth deserves to be spoken, represented by an unafraid and compassionate intellectual”
Edward Said-Representations of the Intellectual, The 1993 Reith Lectures.