Stellenbosch University brushes over the silencing and discrimination of Israeli academics 

The South African Zionist Federation strongly condemns the unlawful silencing and discrimination against Israeli and Palestinian academics at a conference at the University of Stellenbosch in South Africa.  

The University will be hosting a conference titled “Recognition, Reparation, Reconciliation: The Light and Shadow of Historical Trauma” on 5-9 December 2018. Seven Israeli and one Palestinian academic working in the field of conflict resolution were originally invited to attend and present at this conference.

Anti-Israel lobby groups pressurised the conference organisers to disinvite the Israeli and Palestinian academics. The Israeli academics were removed from the conference programme purely and simply because they were Israeli, and the Palestinian academic was removed because he has shown a more moderate position on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This prejudiciary measure is a flagrant violation of academic freedom as entrenched in the South African constitution of which the University, as an Organ of State, has an obligation by law to uphold. 

It is ironic that this conference is ostensibly about reconciliation and recognition, and yet Israelis have been denied recognition by virtue of their nationality, and a Palestinian who preaches reconciliation has been censored. As a result this now hollow conference will become notorious for operating in opposition to its very theme, and attendees will be all the poorer for missing out on the richness that could be brought by the silenced academics to the topic under discussion.  

We call upon academics and sponsors, including the British Council and the Irish Embassy, to encourage Stellenbosch University to uphold its own values of academic freedom and freedom of speech.  

Ben Swartz
National Chairman: South African Zionist Federation 

Rowan Polovin
Chairman: South African Zionist Federation Cape Council