COSATU supports call for termination of UJ relations with BGU and Israeli Apartheid Week

Issued by COSATU International Relations Secretary
Tuesday, 8 March 2011

COSATU fully support its affiliate NEHAWU in calling on the University of Johannesburg (UJ) to terminate any relationship with the Israel’s Ben Gurion University (BGU).

NEHAWU said, “The union, mindful of our own country's history and the role that international solidarity played in ending South Africa's apartheid regime, is convinced that all of us in this country have a particular responsibility to take seriously the struggles of others who face similar conditions of racial oppression and economic exploitation that we have known”.

COSATU supports the call from students, academics and numerous prominent individuals, including Archbishop Desmond Tutu, for UJ to terminate its apartheid-era relationship with Israel's BGU, a university that actively collaborates with the Israeli Defence Force in its enforcement of apartheid occupation against Palestinians, by offering special privileges and services to the army.

It has consistently refused to oppose the Israeli government's attempts to silence academics that support sanctions against Israel and so it is a much compromised institution whose reputation and credibility are in tatters.

We note that BGU has not shown any willingness to comply with the conditions that were set for the possible renewal of the relations, and, with the deadline of 1st April 2011 fast approaching, the UJ needs to act swiftly. The university had demanded that the BGU must ensure that their research projects” 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” It was also demanded that “one or more Palestinian universities” must be included in the existing UJ-BGU agreement if relations were to continue.

Although there is a well financed propaganda machinery that is trying to justify the abuse and victimisation of Palestinians their struggle for freedom and justice needs to be told and defended by those in our country who are grateful for the freedoms we have.

We reaffirm the inspiring and wise words of our living legend and giant, former President Nelson Mandela, when he said, “our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians”.

Finally, COSATU supports the UJ Petition ( and adds it voice of support to the call for more people and organisations to sign in support of this noble cause.

It is a travesty of justice and tragedy of our times that Palestinian teachers and students go through checkpoints everyday on their way to school; universities are abruptly closed therefore disrupting the learning of Palestinian children. Over the top security measures like being forced to produce identity documents when you want to pass certain areas is a daily reality.

This is part of the in-built system of humiliation, provocation and dispossession. It is accompanied by indiscriminate use of violence all in the name of security and fighting terrorism. Our position is that there can be no security without justice and where anarchy is law revolution is inevitable. The world now knows who the real terrorists are, those who use violence and kill to maintain an illegal and unjust occupation and apartheid system.

Bongani Masuku (International Relations Secretary)
Congress of South African Trade Unions