Dishonest campaign by UCT boycott lobby 18.9.19

In a thoroughly duplicitous and misleading statement issued on Friday, a small Jewish fringe group sought to create the impression that support for an academic boycott against Israel is a view that enjoys significant support in the South African Jewish community. They were commenting ahead of a UCT Senate meeting where a boycott of Israeli Universities was to be discussed.

Comprising a mere 65 signatories, the group disingenuously claimed that, “SA Jews support the academic boycott of Israeli Universities”. The reality is that a petition by the SA Zionist Federation opposing the boycott has to date garnered just under 65 000 signatures. Previous studies by UCT’s Kaplan Institute into SA Jewry found that close to 90% of respondents expressed strong or moderate support for Israel with only 1% expressing negative feelings. The signatories thus clearly constitute a tiny fringe group, despite their deceitfully trying to exaggerate their significance.

The SA Jewish Board of Deputies, which for 116 years has been the democratically elected representative body of SA Jewry, has consistently condemned the boycott as an affront to academic freedom as well as being problematic in terms of singling out the world’s only Jewish State, including in a letter sent to the Senate, yesterday

This petition was one example of a misleading and dishonest campaign waged by an increasingly desperate Palestinian Solidarity Forum.

In addition, a number of students distributing the petition on campus were fraudulently posing as members of the SA Union of Jewish students (SAUJS) by wearing SAUJS t-shirts, thereby implying they were representing Jewish students at UCT. SAUJS has since issued a statement condemning this dishonesty and stating its unequivocal opposition to the boycott

Furthermore, in another typical instance of underhandedness on the part of the boycott lobby and in flagrant violation of the University rules, the UCT Senate was spammed with a letter from someone who is not part of the UCT community.

It says much about the mounting desperation of the proponents of this boycott initiative that they have felt the need to resort to such underhand and unethical tactics in order to push their radical anti-Israel agenda. If their cause is honest, as they claim it to be, they would surely play by the rules.

The SA Jewish Board of Deputies reiterates its opposition to the proposed academic boycott against Israel, and its opposition to academic boycotts in general. They are not in the interests of the university, nor our country, and would most likely have devastating negative implications and consequences for both.

For more information, please contact Charisse Zeifert on 082 427 2788

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