*** Latest News: "Boycott Victory" as the University of Johannesburg takes final decision - ends links with BGU. Click here for details (23 March 2011)

EARLY 2010

 Early in 2010, members of the University of Johannesburg's academic, worker and student community called on their university to end its Apartheid-era relationship with Israel’s Ben-Gurion University (BGU). The call stemmed from BGU’s direct support and active collaboration with the Israeli military and illegal occupation.

The call for ending of relations has since been supported by a petition of more than 400 prominent South African academics, including: Kader Asmal, Breyten Breytenbach, Antjie Krog, Mahmood Mamdani, Barney Pityana, Sampie Terreblanche and Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

Significantly, the petition was endorsed by Vice-Chancellors from three other SA universities (Rhodes, UNISA and NMMU) and a former VC of Durban University of Technology. Furthermore, support has come from trade unions, civil society organizations and student bodies around the country, including COSATU, NEHAWU, University of Johannesburg SRC and other groups.

The petition and the position of the more than 400 South African academics has been hailed by Palestinian civil society as a “breakthrough” and “historic moment” in the movement to end Israeli oppression. the petition is a substantial landmark in the movement to denormalise the “business-as-usual” approach to Israeli institutions that are complicit in the occupation.


In September 2010, UJ’s Senate voted not to continue its long-standing relationship with BGU in its present form, stating that, “there is significant evidence that BGU has research and other engagements that support the military and armed forces of Israel, in particular in its occupation of Gaza.”

Guided by the principle of “solidarity with any oppressed population”, UJ set conditions for BGU to comply with by the 1st of April 2011. Furthermore, UJ undertook to “take leadership on this matter from peer institutions among the Palestinian population... [and] consult with Palestinian universities on their views.”
Two significant conditions set by UJ for BGU to comply with include:
  1. BGU’s research project “will not entail any activity, including teaching and research, which has any direct or indirect military implications or contributes to the abuse of human rights.”
  2. “One or more Palestinian universities” must be included in the existing UJ-BGU agreement if relations were to continue.
Click here for the full Senate Resolution


BGU’s links to the military and to human rights abuses are clear. A fact-finding mission recently returned from Palestine-Israel and has released a "damning" report on these links.

Furthermore,  Palestinian academics recently wrote to UJ and were unanimous in their principled support for the boycott of Israel:

[W]e urge our South African colleagues to support our struggle for justice and peace through severing all links with Israeli universities until Israel fulfills its obligations under international law. We hope that South Africans, in particular, can appreciate the urgency of fulfilling this moral obligation to end injustice and achieve freedom and equality for all.

It is clear that BGU is unable to secure such a Palestinian university partner for a trilateral agreement.

MARCH 2011

UJ's Senate was due to meet on 23 March 2011 to assess BGU's compliance with the conditions set by the Senate Resolution. In the build-up to the meeting, a number of events were organised to raise awareness both about the campaign and some of the broader issues at stake.

Events included:
  • Amnesty International Water Seminar - The Politics of Water Research and the Ethics of Academic Engagement

BGU's research collaboration with UJ relates to a water purification project. Amnesty International and the Department of Sociology at UJ hoisted an academic seminar on the politics of water research - placing the politics of water in Israel/Palestine in context. The central question that formed the basis of the discussion was: Should UJ terminate its water research agreement with Israel? 

Speakers included: Professors David Moore, Ran Greenstein, Patrick Bond, Dr Anis Saleh, Nokuthula Magudulela (Amnesty International) and Deborah Hyams (Amnesty International)

  • Israeli Apartheid Week - Special focus on UJ Petition

Between 7th and 14th March 2011, 60 cities worldwide and over 9 campuses in South Africa hosted a series of events as part of the 7th Annual Israeli Apartheid Week.

The UJ Petition campaign hosted a national film tour at a number of South African campuses. From Selma to Soweto - a part of the acclaimed Have you heard from Johannesburg documentary series - engaged audiences on the relevance of the academic boycott to contributing to the end of South African apartheid.

Click here for more information on IAW events in South Africa and cities around the world.

Universities that participated included: Wits University; University of Pretoria; University of Johannesburg; Rhodes University and the University of Cape Town

23 MARCH 2011

On Wednesday, 23rd March 2011, the University of Johannesburg's (UJ) Senate met to assess BGU's compliance with the Senate Resolution. BGU had failed to meet the Resolution conditions. UJ's Senate voted, by an almost two-thirds majority, to uphold the Resolution - thereby ending its agreement with Israel's Ben-Gurion University (BGU). Click here for details on the campaign success.