Shaun Zagnoev

Above Board 29.11.19

End of the line for UCT Israel boycott

Last week the door was finally closed on long-running efforts by anti-Israel pressure groups to get the University of Cape Town to impose a boycott against its Israeli counterparts. In March this year, the UCT Senate went so far as to pass a resolution to boycott Israeli universities deemed to be ‘enabling’ Israeli rights violations. However, the UCT Council determined that a more consultative process, along with an assessment of the sustainability impact of the resolution was needed and referred the matter back to Senate. At its meeting on Friday, Senate again considered the boycott question and this time resoundingly rejected it, with more than two-thirds of members voting to rescind the March resolution.

The Board, in collaboration with the SA Zionist Federation, SAUJS and other stakeholders, devoted a considerable amount of time and resources to opposing this pernicious campaign, one that cynically sought to hijack a reputable institution of higher learning and use it as a political weapon against the Jewish state. Had it succeeded, it would not only have strengthened the hand of anti-Israel boycott movements the world over, but would also have caused considerable and lasting damage to UCT itself.

In our media statement, we commended UCT on the firm stance it has taken against politically-motivated academic boycotts of this nature. We further condemned the three year obsession by certain UCT academics to pursue their own narrowly-focused political agenda, in the process undermining the objective interests and reputation of UCT itself and taking the University’s focus away from key issues of concern to UCT and our country. Thankfully, this pointless and damaging episode in UCT's history had now finally been brought to a conclusion, and we expressed the hope that the focus there would turn once more to the further building and strengthening of this outstanding South African tertiary institution.

SAJBD hosts US Ambassador (designate) Lana Marks

One Tuesday, the Board hosted newly-arrived US Ambassador, Lana Marks for a lunch at Beyachad to introduce her to the leadership of our key communal organisations. At an initial meeting with the SAJBD leadership we had an opportunity to engage with her on key issues within the community. It is very special having an American Ambassador who is both Jewish and was born and grew up in South Africa. Ambassador Marks was warm and engaging throughout, displaying both a knowledge of and feeling for our country and its Jewish community that was most encouraging. We were all also much heartened by her very positive outlook in terms of the US-South Africa relationship going forward and look forward to many more fruitful interactions with her.

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