Coalition for a free Palestine (CFP) welcomes UJ's decision

24 March 2011

Coalition says decision is a watershed in Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel campaign

University of Johannesburg terminates relationship with Israeli institution

The COSATU led Coalition for a free Palestine (CFP) welcomes yesterday's decision by the University of Johannesburg (UJ) to terminate its relationship with the Israeli institution, Ben Gurion University.

The termination translates into the first South African institutional boycott of an Israeli institution and is a watershed moment in the growing Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) of Israel campaign. This resonates with us in South Africa, as we are aware of the importance of international solidarity and realise the role that it played in dismantling South African apartheid.

UJ was forced to reconsider its relationship with BGU following the launch of The UJ Petition ( The campaign was in support of UJ academics and students who were calling on their university to end its apartheid-era relationship with BGU. The campaign received unprecedented support with over 400 South African academics, including nine Vice-Chancellors and Deputy Vice-Chancellors (highest non-ceremonial university positions), joining the campaign.

Included in the list of supporters were some of South Africa's leading voices: Professors Neville Alexander, Kader Asmal, Allan Boesak, Breyten Breytenbach, John Dugard, Antjie Krog, Barney Pityana and Sampie Terreblanche. South Africa's popular cartoonist Jonathan "Zapiro" Shapiro, Nobel Laureate Desmond Tutu, Bishop Rubin Phillips, former Minister Ronnie Kasrils and leading social activist Zackie Achmat.

Palestininian Civil Society have called for the BDS of Israel and we are pleased that UJ has taken this historical step in promoting the international BDS campaign, and has taken a bold position to stand in solidarity with the oppressed.

The Coalition for a Free Palestine (CFP) is a COSATU led coalition representing a wide range of civil society organizations and trade unions. Some member organizations include the South African Council of Churches, South African Young Communist League, South African Communist Party, Muslim Judicial Council, Muslim Students Association, Palestine Solidarity Alliance, Palestine Solidarity Committee, Palestine Solidarity Group and the student society, the Wits University Palestine Solidarity Committee.