Lessons from South Africa: On the Path to Negotiations with Leverage

Solidarity disclaimer: This piece was written about a half a year ago, as I returned excitedly from a workshop in South Africa. These are my (a privileged beneficiary of the Israeli apartheid system) conclusions and analysis, and in no way presume to be an “ultimate truth”, or an attempt at dictation for Palestinian action. I only hope that it’s instructive and serves as yet another window, out of many, for thoughts, debate and input. The word “we” refers to participants of the workshop.

Often when I’m asked what the point of BDS is, I quickly answer “to get the Israeli regime  to the negotiating table with no preconditions” and then I move on to tactics. Sometimes we get so mired in the blood and brutality on our path of resistance, that we need to be yanked out of it, in order to stop and see our golden milestones.

Negotiations and the Death of Liberation Continue reading “Lessons from South Africa: On the Path to Negotiations with Leverage”

Divesting From Injustice

Last week the University of Johannesburg, following a campaign endorsed by over two hundred of South Africa’s most prominent public intellectuals, voted “not to continue a long-standing relationship with Ben Gurion University (BGU) in Israel in its present form” and to set conditions “for the relationship to continue.” Though falling short of an outright boycott of BGU, the UJ Senate set an ultimatum of six months for BGU to comply with two conditions:

(1) that the memorandum of understanding governing the elationship between the two institutions be amended to include Palestinian universities chosen with the direct involvement of UJ;

(2) the UJ will not engage in any activities with BGU that have direct or indirect military implications, this to be monitored by UJ’s senate academic freedom committee

Interestingly, the AP report following the vote, reprinted in both the Jerusalem Post and Haaretz, fails to mention the second condition nor anything pertaining to BGU’s direct complicity with the occupation of Palestine. But as the tireless campaigner for justice, Desmond Tutu , notes: “Israeli Universities are an intimate part of the Israeli regime, by active choice. While Palestinians are not able to access universities and schools, Israeli universities produce the research, technology, arguments and leaders for maintaining the occupation.” (see Tutu’s full letter below the fold)

How subtle censorhip can be in the Middle East’s only democracy…

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South African Academics Call for Boycott of Ben Gurion University

A long brewing South African campaign at the prestigious University of Johannesburg to cut off academic links with Ben Gurion University due to its complicity and racist practices has won the endorsement of John Dugard, Desmond Tutu, Breyten Breytenbach, Allan Boesak, Mahmoud Mamdani and almost 200 other academics from 22 academic institutions in South Africa.


As members of the academic community of South Africa, a country with a history of brute racism on the one hand and both academic acquiescence and resistance to it on the other, we write to you with deep concern regarding the relationship between the University of Johannesburg (UJ) and Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU). The relationship agreement, presented as ‘merely the continuation’ of a ‘purely scientific co-operation’ is currently being reviewed owing to concerns raised by UJ students, academics and staff. For reasons explained below and detailed in the attached Fact Sheet, we wish to add our voices to those calling for the suspension of UJ’s agreement with BGU.

Continue reading “South African Academics Call for Boycott of Ben Gurion University”

Upside Down World Cup

As the corporate-sponsored bonanza that is the football World Cup unfolds into its second week, Raj Patel looks at one of the most overlooked aspects of this year’s tournament: the ongoing struggle of tens of thousands of shack dwellers across the country. Over the past year, shack settlement leaders in Durban, Johannesburg and Cape Town have been chased from their homes by gangs, arrested, detained without hearing, and assaulted. As the World Cup begins, a shack dwellers’ movement known as Abahlali baseMjondolo is mounting what they call an “Upside Down World Cup” campaign to draw attention to their plight.

The Unspoken Alliance

Sasha Polakow-Suransky and Tony Karon on Israel’s Secret Relationship with Apartheid South Africa

In his new groundbreaking book The Unspoken Alliance, Sasha Polakow-Suransky uncovers the long-concealed history of military and nuclear ties between Israel and South Africa during the 1970s and 80s. The book is already creating a buzz — newspapers such as the New York Times and The Guardian have drawn attention to newly declassified archival documents that Polakow-Suransky discovered.

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