Get more Mail & Guardian
Subscribe or Login

UJ split with Israeli University ‘narrow minded’

The severing of ties between the University of Johannesburg (UJ) and Israel’s Ben Gurion University (BGU) is a blow to academic and scientific freedom, the South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) said on Wednesday.

“UJ’s senate’s decision to allow the formal relationship between UJ and BGU to lapse is playing to narrow-minded political prejudice and is a severe setback for constructive intellectual engagement in South Africa,” SAJBD national chairperson Zev Krengel said in a statement.

BGU was working with UJ on finding a method to clean the algae which had infested South Africa’s drinking water, he said.

The severing of ties meant the project was likely to come to an end, leaving UJ without access to BGU’s extensive water expertise.

“Rather than availing itself of a scientific cooperative project in the water purification field that has enormous potential benefits for South Africa, UJ has chosen instead to further the agenda of a group of anti-Israel agitators,” Krengel said.

He called the decision unjust and unreasonable and said “academic boycotts are antithetical to the principles of academic and scientific freedom”.

UJ deputy vice-chancellor Adam Habib said earlier on Wednesday that the split would happen as per protocol on April 1.

“There has been quite a lot of scare-mongering that if the partnership breaks, South Africa will be confined to bad water quality,” he said.

‘We can deal’
“The quality of our water is suffering because we are not spending the type of money on cleaning water that we need to, and not employing skill sets required.

“We can deal with acid rain water in the region if we are prepared to spend money.”

Habib said individual professors from UJ would be allowed to keep up existing partnerships with BGU.

“That is something for individual academics to determine, but it depends on whether BGU allows this or not.”

UJ’s severing of ties with BGU came amid talk of steep water tariff increases and a warning that South Africa could run out of water within the next 10 years if nothing was done to supplement water resources.

The Environment and Conservation Association has said that by 2015, 80% of South Africa’s fresh water could be so badly polluted that no purification process in the country would make it fit for consumption.

The impending disaster which could be created by acid mine drainage, and sewerage and industrial pollution, had on many occasions been brought to the government’s attention, with no positive results, the association said.

The UJ Petition Committee said in a statement the university’s senate had found “significant” evidence that BGU had research and other engagements supporting Israel’s military, in particular in its occupation of Gaza. — Sapa

Subscribe for R500/year

Thanks for enjoying the Mail & Guardian, we’re proud of our 36 year history, throughout which we have delivered to readers the most important, unbiased stories in South Africa. Good journalism costs, though, and right from our very first edition we’ve relied on reader subscriptions to protect our independence.

Digital subscribers get access to all of our award-winning journalism, including premium features, as well as exclusive events, newsletters, webinars and the cryptic crossword. Click here to find out how to join them and get a 57% discount in your first year.

Related stories

WELCOME TO YOUR M&G

If you’re reading this, you clearly have great taste

If you haven’t already, you can subscribe to the Mail & Guardian for less than the cost of a cup of coffee a week, and get more great reads.

Already a subscriber? Sign in here

Advertising

Subscribers only

Hawkish Reserve Bank sees South Africa edge towards a rates...

Analysts say the Reserve Bank could start tightening monetary policy as early as next month

Coko vs S ruling: The case against a subjective test...

Acting judge Tembeka Ngcukaitobi’s acquittal of a rape suspect has raised controversy, but legal experts say the fault lay with legislators and not the court

More top stories

Almost 7 000 children receive Pfizer shot on first day...

More than 39 000 young people had registered on the government’s database by 4pm on Wednesday

Police murder trial: 189 metal pellets killed Nathaniel ‘Lokkies’ Julies

At least 65% of the pellets in the cartridge hit the 16-year-old when he was gunned down in Eldorado Park, Johannesburg, allegedly by in-training constable, Caylene Whiteboy

Hawkish Reserve Bank sees South Africa edge towards a rates...

Analysts say the Reserve Bank could start tightening monetary policy as early as next month

Lucas Radebe: ‘My football career began behind my parents’ back’

Soccer legend Lucas ‘Rhoo’ Radebe is a busy man, but he made time in his hectic schedule to speak to Ntombizodwa Makhoba about his fondest childhood memories, how his soccer career began, and, as a father of eight, his legacy
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…
×