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The case for an academic boycott of Israeli universities complicit in the Gaza onslaught

The case for an academic boycott of Israeli universities complicit in the Gaza onslaught
Palestinians perform Friday prayers next to the rubble of the Al-Farooq Mosque, days after it was destroyed in an Israeli airstrike on Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, on 1 March 2024. (Photo: EPA-EFE / Haitham Imad)

Apart from the odd statement demanding a ceasefire in Gaza, South African universities have, by and large, remained silent about the ongoing killing of Palestinian civilians, an onslaught that the International Court of Justice recently found could plausibly amount to genocide.

Confronted with what Pankaj Mishra rightly describes in the most recent London Review of Books as the Israeli “liquidation of Gaza”, an onslaught “whose victims, as Blinne Ní Ghrálaigh, an Irish lawyer who is South Africa’s representative at the International Court of Justice in The Hague, put it, ‘are broadcasting their own destruction in real-time in the desperate, so far vain, hope that the world might do something’’, no university has, to my knowledge, imposed an academic boycott on Israeli universities, or even on such universities with close ties to the Israeli military, a military whose soldiers regularly post videos of themselves committing war crimes in Gaza.

Leaving aside for the moment colleagues who cloak themselves in a veil of ignorance, essentially claiming that because we cannot know everything that is happening in Gaza from afar, we cannot know anything that is happening there (despite what we witness every day with our own eyes), I will assume that this failure to act stems, at least in part, from the noble concern that imposing an academic boycott on Israeli institutions will impermissibly infringe on the right of South African academics to academic freedom guaranteed by section 16(1)(d) of the Constitution.

Of course, some academics and university administrators from Global South universities also rightly fear that they will be severely financially punished, especially by US institutions, if they dare to take a principled stance against the Israeli onslaught on civilians in Gaza. Regrettably, I can’t claim to be immune to such threats, or that I would never — for purely self-serving reasons — give in to them. 

But this is not such a case.

As Mishra argues, “Gaza has become for countless powerless people the essential condition of political and ethical consciousness in the 21st century.” For many, the sense of outrage is animated by the unconscionable hypocrisy of political elites and their governments in Global North countries allied to Israel, and (perhaps naively) by the hope that drastic action may put pressure on their governments consistently to uphold the ideals they claim to embrace; ideals, as Mishra puts it, such as “respect for freedom, tolerance for the otherness of beliefs and ways of life; solidarity with human suffering; and a sense of moral responsibility for the weak and persecuted”.

Put differently, for many of us Gaza has become a test case for the proposition that “if there is any … lesson to be drawn from the Shoah [Holocaust], it is ‘Never Again for Anyone’ ”.

Saying nothing and doing nothing is not an option.

Difficult questions

Nevertheless, as the right to academic freedom is a profoundly important right worthy of vigorous protection, and as academic boycotts could easily be abused to pursue partisan political ends and to silence dissent, it is important to ask difficult questions about whether the imposition of an academic boycott against Israeli institution complicit in what appears to be a genocide could ever be justified.

To do so, it would be helpful to consider the possible scope and content of the right to academic freedom guaranteed in section 18(1)(d) of the Constitution. South Africa’s Constitutional Court has not yet considered this issue, but I find the 1997 Unesco definition of academic freedom helpful.

Unesco defines academic freedom as: “The right, without constriction by prescribed doctrine, to freedom of teaching and discussion, freedom in carrying out research and disseminating and publishing the results thereof, freedom to express freely their opinion about the institution or system in which they work, freedom from institutional censorship and freedom to participate in professional or representative academic bodies.”

Defined purely as a negative right, it has been argued that the right protects academic staff from being punished for the content of their research, teaching and/or opinions. But in South Africa, rights sometimes also impose positive obligations on the state to ensure full enjoyment of these rights, which means the right to academic freedom in section 16(2)(d) might be broader in scope than the Unesco definition envisages.

It would nevertheless be hard to argue that the right prohibits universities from adopting any rules or policies that may make it more difficult for some academics to do the kind of research they wish to do. I am thinking, for example, of rules guiding the funding of research activities or the attendance of academic conferences, or rules that regulate ethical conduct in research.

When I cannot obtain funding from UCT to attend the annual conference of the International Society of Public Law because I have used up all my conference funding for the cycle, I would be hard-pressed to argue that this limits my right to academic freedom because it deprives me of the opportunity to meet and learn from colleagues elsewhere in the world. 

(As the conference happens to be held in Madrid this year, it does deprive me of an opportunity to visit the Prado museum, but it would be preposterous for me to argue that this limits my right to academic freedom, despite the fact that I am working on a book chapter on queer art.)

Read more in Daily Maverick: Middle East crisis news hub

It would also be difficult to argue that a decision by a university not to enter into a formal agreement with another university because that university has a bad academic reputation or a lamentable track record on human rights limits my right to academic freedom by depriving me of the benefits of such an agreement.

While universities, regrettably, are not always consistent when they make such decisions — the decision by my university to enter into an agreement with a Chinese university to establish the Confucius Institute being a case in point — few people would argue in other contexts that decisions not to enter into formal agreements with other universities because of their bad reputation or abhorrent policies or practices, would impermissibly infringe on academic freedom.

It is for this reason that I believe it is not tenable to argue that a decision by a university to sever all formal ties with Israeli institutions as part of a boycott of Israeli academic institutions complicit in the liquidation of Gaza and other crimes associated with (or necessitated by) its occupation of Gaza and the West Bank infringes on academic freedom.

Restrictions on individual academics

What appears to be a more difficult question is whether a decision to prohibit individual South African academics from having any ties with another institution or participating in the activities of that institution because that institution is complicit in genocide or war crimes committed by the government of the host country implicates academic freedom. More difficult, perhaps, because this restriction would be imposed directly on individual academics in South Africa, which could have an impact on their ability to carry out their research as they see fit.

Of course, in other contexts, rules that prohibit academics and other researchers from working with specific researchers or institutions may not cause similar uneasiness, because the purpose of those prohibitions would manifestly not be to censor what academics can think or write or say, but rather to pursue an entirely legitimate, pressing aim to safeguard and protect the academic enterprise as a whole.

An extreme example: I would support a ban on academics from the Health Sciences Department at my university working with colleagues from another institution that conducts experiments similar to the infamous and unconscionable Tuskegee Study of Untreated Syphilis in the Negro Male done in the US until the early 1970s. The same holds true for a ban on working with colleagues advising an authoritarian regime on the most efficient or cost-effective manner to extract confessions through torture from opponents of that regime, or on the most cost-effective and fastest way to kill off all LGBTQ+ people (or all LGBTQ+ academics) in that country.

I am not using these examples to be provocative, but rather to get to a larger truth about the scope and content of academic freedom, and about the permissible limits that may be imposed on it. It is this: the purpose and intended effect of all the measures I cited in the examples above (on funding, on formal agreements between universities, and on other restrictions placed on individual academics) are pivotal when assessing whether the measure places unjustifiable limits on the right to academic freedom.

It is for this reason that I strongly support an academic boycott of Israeli universities complicit in the current Israeli onslaught in Gaza which, I believe, constitutes the crime of genocide.

As is the case with all other states that have signed and ratified the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, the South African state has a duty under Article 1 of the convention to “prevent and to punish” the crime of genocide, “whether committed in time of peace or in time of war”. 

As South African universities are organs of state, they cannot intervene directly to stop Israel from continuing with its genocidal campaign in Gaza, but they can honour this obligation (and the principle that “never again” means “never again for anyone”) by refusing to work with Israeli academic institutions complicit in the genocide.

Of course, such a boycott will harm Israeli academic institutions and in all likelihood limit the academic freedom of academics affiliated to those institutions.  While this is self-evidently not a Constitutional Law question (as Israeli academics are not protected by our Bill of Rights), it is not a course of action to be taken lightly, because — in my view at least — academic boycotts raise profound questions about freedom of scholarship of the “slippery slope” variety.

But this is one of the few cases in which such qualms look, at best, heartless, and at worse, deranged and profoundly immoral. Israel, the occupying force, has destroyed or partly destroyed all universities in Gaza and has killed scores of Palestinian academics. It is almost certainly committing what is sometimes called the crime of crimes — genocide — and perpetrating this crime against a civilian population that is largely Palestinian, and thus a population that elites in countries of the Global North tend to view as “non-white”, as “Other”, as “dangerous”, and not worthy of equal concern and respect. 

Academics at South African universities cannot do much to honour the spirit of Article 1 of the Genocide Convention, but we can demand and support actions by our universities that would at least send a signal to Israeli elites that when your government commits a genocide, you should at least expect to suffer some consequences, even if it is only the minor inconvenience of being denied academic cooperation by a South African university. DM


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Ben Harper says:

    Do you really thing anyone gives a damn about sub-standard, dysfunctional South African universities? Hell, most are not given any credence overseas as it is.

  • Denise Smit says:

    Wow, you are now giving the verdict – genocide as in the holocaust HAS been committed. Go speak to some real holocaust survivors to check your facts

    • L T. says:

      And this piece is hardly an example of South African academic brilliance, rather exactly that substandard nonsense that no credibility whatsoever.

    • L T. says:

      You’d think a so- called academic could do just a little better.

    • Mohsin Wadee says:

      31000 Palestinians have been killed. You still don’t believe that’s a genocide. Please Denise, it’s time to get your head unstuck from the sand.

      The Israeli govt has numerous times stated there’ll be no Palestinian state or independence, while stealing more land, while blessing settler terrorism in the West Bank.

      You still deny this and spew out your drivel???

  • Steve Du Plessis says:

    What a nonsensical article. There is no genocide and there is no reason to boycott anything or anyone in a democracy defending herself against genocidal Islamic fundamentalist terror. Hamas must return the hostages and surrender. The war will stop immediately. The perpetrators of the oct 7 atrocities must be put on trial and punished for their crimes against humanity

  • Jean Grové says:

    If it is truly as straightforward, why has the ICJ declined to make such s definitive verdict already?

    Are the administrators of our universities better positioned, more qualified to reach a conclusion that the judges themselves are not – and not just the direct decision of genocide but the further, dependent conclusion of complicitness?

    Would you argue for such civilian findings of guilt and holding accountable in other aspects that groups of South Africans may find problematic, or should this right be reserved for academia?

    Would you have supported a break of ties with, say, any Canadian Institution that worked with Aubrey Levin? What about deciding to boycott, say, North American Universities that perform infant genital mutilation at their academic hospitals? How fine should this weapon be calibrated? Let’s figure out what the principle is so that we know it is in fact a moral, ethical and principled call rather than emotion or politicking – what are the appropriate and acceptable uses of this tool?

  • Tony Reilly says:

    So the Israeli universities are deemed complicit by the mere fact that they happen to be located within the state of Israel ? Poppycock I say .

    • Geoff Coles says:

      De Vos gets more weird by the day. Stick to your brief of Constitutional Law and by all means, do your chapter on Queer Art at your own expense.
      Academic boycotts are plain wrong

  • Marilyn Bassin says:

    I used to love reading your articles Pierre de Vos. They were insightful and so clear about legal standing. The situation in the Middle East however has become so personal to you and this is not the first time a bias has come out. How about an article supposing the release of hostages? Did the enquiry into sexual abuse and torture not make you think maybe there is another evil out there in this conflict besides Israel? I have to add that if your voice in this matter is heeded, who do you think will be negatively affected? Do you think Israel relies on SA university research? Boycott them, lets see them weep.

    • jcdville stormers says:

      Can see clearly who butters your bread,or is there a nice position in high circles in judiciary dangled?

    • Nas Hodja says:

      Israel takes 1000’s of Palestinians hostage in so called ‘Administrative Detention’. Only the Israeli hostages seem to matter.

      The same UN reports on sexual violence also called out sexual violence of Palestinians in Israeli detention. Only violence against Israelis is reported. Torture in Israeli prisons is standard practice.

      Israeli crimes by scale are far greater. Maybe there is a greater evil out there than Hamas.

      • Menahem Fuchs says:

        The point being made is that the Israeli hostages don’t seem to matter at all in this debate to Pierre and other vocal anti-Israel activists. Their calls are always one-sided, and their recall seems limited to Israel’s actions with no regard to the actions of Hamas and Palestinian terrorists in general.

  • L T. says:

    Just when I thought the bar could not get any lower, DM publishes this piece of complete and utter rubbish. What a waste of space! If De Vos is an example of academic thinking in our universities then we have indeed sunk to the very bottom of academic ratings. UCT should be embarrassed and ashamed of having someone of such limited understanding and intelligence on their staff. Professor of Law indeed! This piece is a complete disgrace – full of outright lies, tenuous examples and tortuous reasoning. What a disgrace.

  • Mike Evans says:

    We’ll see what excuses all these people have when Israel is in fact found to be guilty of genocide. Great article Pierre, people will naturally be upset, but the truth hurts.

  • John Smythe says:

    Careful, Pierre. If you lean just a little more left you might fall over. I expected better when I saw your name at the top. A schmuck article and a waste of 10 minutes of my precious day.

  • Lil Mars says:

    I’m horrified at the ignorant bias of the author. Boycotting these universities will be a case of cutting off your nose to spite your face.

  • Dov de Jong says:

    Oh give it a pass de Vos , your university invites Koko.

  • Agf Agf says:

    He has really lost it this time. What utter drivel. The greatest irony is that the good Professor would not last more than five minutes in Gaza, unlike Israel which is a tolerant society.

    • Lawrence Sisitka says:

      No no, no – a man can only take so much of this rabid right-wing Israelophilia. Israel is very much NOT a tolerant society, which was very evident when I spent some 9 months there many years ago, and it has became even less tolerant in the last 5-10 years. And on what basis does the interestingly named commentator believe that the professor would not last in Gaza. What do you actually know about the people of Gaza? Do you know people there? The bigger issue as always, of course, is that the swamp of Trumpian ranters that populate this once, at least slightly intelligent platform, cannot tolerate any view that is not 100% in accordance with theirs, hence the appalling and essentially mindless barrages aimed at Professor de Vos, Ferial Haffajee and anyone else with a mind open enough to share dissenting (as far as the swamp is concerned) ideas. The temptation is always to call it quits and leave the Maverick Insider to these bigots, but that would just play into their hands, so I think I will have to continue to plague them, however painful it may be. Can we perhaps try to open our minds just a little bit to permit alternative ways of thinking? I thought not!

      • David C says:

        De Vos and Haffajee are provided with a platform to air their own personal opinions (as far as I know, they probably get some form of stipend for their efforts). The comments column allows readers to either debate, agree or disagree with those comments. The fact that the majority of readers of DM appear to disagree with De Vos on this topic is neither good nor evil – it simply is. On the other hand – asking people to open their minds to your point of view is essentially asserting that your point of view, and ONLY your point of view, is enlightened. It’s basically an egregious insult and an excellent way to ensure you wil absolutely NOT persuade the other party to your argument.

        Furthermore, in my experience, everyone who has ever said “just open your mind” seems totally incapable or disinclined to do it themselves to the other point of view.

      • Agf Agf says:

        I was referring to the Gazans/Palestinians/Muslims attitude toward sexual orientation. In case you don’t know or choose to ignore, they throw gays off the tops of buildings. Israel does NOT do this. That is one of the reasons why I always have a good chuckle when I see banners proclaiming “Queers for Palestine”. Go and hold that banner in Gaza and see how long you last.

  • Just Me says:

    In case you missed it, there is a case for a total boycott of Israel and Israeli products, not just an academic boycott, due to Israeli war crimes and Genocide in the Gaza onslaught.

  • Peter Holmes says:

    You, de Vos, are lawyer and, being in SA, can happily research in the context of Roman Dutch law, i.e. within SA. I am an earth scientist (typically collaborating with academics from France, the USA, the UK and, in one instance China, whose politics and policies I detest). Without this cooperation, any credibility I, and the institution I’m affiliated to, flies out the window (no funding, no NRF ratings, no publishing in high impact factor journals). If an Israeli (or, for that matter a Palestinian) researcher reaches out to me for collaborative research, I’d unhesitatingly agree, regardless of your “boycott” proposals.

  • Paul (Teacher) says:

    In many fields – agriculture and water resources spring to mind – Israeli Universities are way ahead of us, and we benefit greatly from their expertise. What do they get in return? I’m not sure, but I suspect the boycot will do a lot more damage on our side than it will on Israel’s side.

    So I’m not sure a boycot would be a brilliant idea, even if rabid idealogues like Prof. De Vos could convince me that it would sway Bibi Netanyahu’s government even in the slightest.

    But all is not lost. Prof. De Vos can use his enthusiasm to write some pieces about queer art (or the absence thereof) in Sharia-Muslim countries, or about genocide in Russia, China, Sudan, Burma.

    • Peter Holmes says:

      Agreed, amen!

    • Kenneth FAKUDE says:

      So they can go ahead kill and maim innocent civillians who never benefit from those innovations.
      Everyone is on Pierre’s case just to ignore what Israel is busy doing.
      Israel equaled the October 7 horror attack in my one day and felt so good they took selfies and are now busy with ethnic cleansing.
      People must just think how funny they sound when they bury their heads in the sand when people are slaughtered and starved for just being Palestinians.
      Always remember the wheel it has the habit of making a full circle.

  • Alan Paterson says:

    An article from the academic equivalent of Fawlty Towers. For starters I have problems with the definition of a genocide, “in whole or in part”. Is a “part” ten percent, fifty percent? Since the Israeli response to the 7th October attack (part of a genocide?) over 30000 Palestinians have died in the past five months according to the (Hamas controlled) Palestinian Health Authority, so a fair way to go for for the ICJ to make it a definitive definition. Nearly 34000 Jews were slaughtered in two days in September 1941, not five months, in the Babi Yar ravine. Just a small contribution to the Holocaust of 6 million. This war will end, as they all do, far before the Israelis get anywhere near those numbers. And Palestine will be rebuilt with international help. And Hamas re-elected with stated aim of elimination of the Jews (from the river to the sea). Or will there be a Hamas lite who will liberalise women’s rights, encourage a free press, speak out against capital punishment and open a #QueersforPalestine chapter in Gaza? This I very much doubt.

  • EK SÊ says:

    Hitler and his acolytes also “sanctioned” Jewish academia. It was followed by more “sanctions” that ultimately led to the holocaust.
    During WW1 academics from Germany & Britian worked together to test and prove one of Einstein’s theories.
    And after WW2 German scientists was in high demand by all nations, despite them being amoral humans.
    Science waits on no one.
    I wonder if the professor consulted with Arab-Israelis academics on their take on this.

  • Mark Parker says:

    There are some gems in this article: 1. “Such a boycott (by SA academics) will harm Israeli academic institutions”. 2. “SA Universities cannot intervene directly to stop Israel…in Gaza”. 3. “Palestinian academics”, Oxymoron of the Year.
    The “academic left” are quite happy to adjust the prescribed academic freedoms to appease their own “beliefs” and “ideology” without any facts or evidence. An example is Prof. Roland G. Fryer who published critical findings on “police interactions leading to shootings” which Harvard “lefty” academia were deeply unhappy with, who in retaliation, suspended Fryer for two years for using “inappropriate” language and fostering of a “hostile” work environment. “Lefty academics” are quite prepared to shut down debate in support of their warped ideology.
    De Vos bases his arguments here on his “belief” that genocide is being committed without any evidence, other than there is a terrible war in Gaza. There is no ICJ ruling on genocide, that is years away, so why is De Vos using it as the basis of his argument? Worse still the ICJ ruling didn’t even use the body of international case law (Rohinga & Bosnia-Kosovo Genocide), that evidence makes the SA application look “mickey mouse”. Only the Ugandan judge was able to see through the “crap” and dismiss the application out of hand.
    All De Vos has done is virtue signal and show the true face of the anti-liberal left in academia. When his personal ideology clouds the facts…we have a big problem.

  • Malcolm Mitchell says:

    Whilst I have a high regard for Prof. de Vos as a constitutional lawyer I think he is way out here. As I understand it the ICJ has not ruled on the alleged genocide . However as in academic circles, which I understand since I have two doctorates and other lower degrees , he is entitled to his own opinion. Whether it will stand up under peer review is another matter. Both Newton and Einstein’s theories did not stand up under later peer review.

  • David C says:

    Having started out as a decidedly neutral “observer” of this issue, I realise I have gradually become more and more prejudiced against the Palestinian people. At this stage, if there were 2 buttons in front of me – one which was labelled “Eliminate Israel” and the other “Eliminate Palestine” there is absolutely no doubt in my mind which button I would press. This has happened as a direct result of the increasingly insane, one-sided, two-faced, irrational arguments made by the compulsive virtue-signallers. In truth, I don’t dislike Palestinians at all, but I really detest their vocal, mindless supporters and at this stage I just want them all gone so that these libtards can go back to hysterically promoting and defending the mutilation of 13-year-old girls who think it’s cool to pretend they’re boys.

  • Random Comment says:

    How did I end up on IOL?

    Are we going to have a The Guardian moment – allegations of “improper behaviour” by the much-beloved columnist and then an exit stage left by same?

  • Bill Gild says:

    Another nail hammered into the coffin of academic freedom at UCT by yet another “progressive” leftist, as UCT sails into the sunset.

  • Rael Chai says:

    What a load of garbage. I used to enjoy PdV’s level headed legal analysis and always looked forward to reading his legal view but this is shocking. While conveniently ignoring the fact that Israel was forced to join a war it neither wanted nor asked for, he then asks for collective punishment on academic institutions which are independent of the Israeli government and a bedrock of academia and research that has had positive contributions to the world over.

  • Rod H MacLeod says:

    Well, I don’t see any vestige of a “list” of “Israeli universities complicit in the Gaza onslaught”. Name and shame Pierre old boy, or STFU.

    • Bill Gild says:

      The “woke” gang, or, as some might refer to them, the “progressive” left, has nothing worthwhile to contribute, but shamelessness and an overarching need to be “relevant”. They will leave nothing but destruction and pain in their wake.

  • Pierre de Vos says:

    Thank you all for taking the time to read my article and to comment on it. The comments are what I expected them to be. May I suggest you also read the article by Pankaj Mishra linked to in my article. None of you are likely to like the facts referenced in the article or agree with the arguments made based on these facts, but at least you will have a better understanding of why those of us who disagree with your position take the position we take. (Even if you find ways to dismiss the facts.)

    All the best.


    • Bill Gild says:

      None of us IS, not ARE. I would have expected better from a professor.

      • Iota Jot says:

        And that is your entire response to Prof De Vos’s comment? To pick up on a standard Afrikaans speaker’s error of concord when writing or speaking English. (And writing English, not in an academic article or treatise, but in a brief comment below a newspaper article.) Bravo! How have you survived living in SA, surrounded by thousands of people what is speaking English as a second language?
        Perhaps it is another Bill Gild who wrote ‘The “woke” gang, or, as some might refer to THEM, the “progressive” left, HAS nothing …’. Make your mind up. Maybe you are not an academic and thus hold yourself to a lower standard than you do Pierre.

      • Louise Wilkins says:

        Actually Bill, you’re wrong. It is ARE. Perhaps you should check your facts before rudely spewing out rubbish.

        • Iota Jot says:

          In informal English, yes. And that is what the Prof was writing. But in formal English, one uses ‘IS’. None of you = No one of you and therefore takes the singular. But that is stuffy and prescriptive.

    • PAUL HENDLER says:

      How come my 13: 57 comment, which ios critical of the ‘trolls’, is still being moderated some almost five hours later? Have I made the ‘wrong’ comment’ going against received wisdom of whiteism and Zionism?

    • Mark Parker says:

      Unfortunately my previous comment to your article is still under moderation (DM start getting your act together). Once again as per your article and now in your reply you confuse “facts” with “beliefs” and “opinions”. I fail to see how you, and Mishra have provided “facts” as they related to this Gaza conflict. As a law professor you understand better than anyone the need to provide irrefutable evidence when presenting your case and arguments, yet you seemingly ignore this and present your “beliefs” as facts with no evidence and you think Mishra does too when he reviews previous Israel’s PMs comments as though they were said on 11 Oct 2023! What happens to your “genocidal” factual argument if the ICJ returns in 2-3 years from now and says that Israel are not guilty of genocide even though they believed it to be plausible at the time? You would have instituted a boycott of Israeli universities and their academics in violation of the laws of academic freedom surely? This is classic anti-liberalism where beliefs and ideology trump facts.

    • Errol Price says:

      dear Prof De Vos
      Thank you for referring us to the exceptional article of Pankaj Mishra.
      It has given me much food for thought.
      Unfortunately, it exposes all the more, the utter banality and sophistry of your own effort.

    • Dietmar Horn says:

      I have read the linked article by Pankaj Mishra and find that he draws his conclusions based on historical facts that are in themselves indisputable. You can certainly have an objective dialogue about these. One can also draw different conclusions from the same facts. These are not formal logical conclusions but rather opinion-forming assumptions. You, in turn, present such opinion-forming assumptions as solid evidence for your academic boycott thesis. Why do you react so angrily to the arguments put forward by some readers here?

    • Louise Wilkins says:

      Thank you for your reply Pierre.

  • Martin Smith says:

    Also let’s ‘call out’ the Universities worldwide who in return for massive funding from China stay quiet about the ‘re-education’ camps holding Uigher Muslims and the general supression and persecution of that demographic in China.

  • John P says:

    Every article about Israel and Gaza from DM becomes more and more one sided and polarised as do the comments in general.
    The objective we should all be trying to promote and achieve is a peaceful solution that provides equal rights for for Israel and Palestine alike.

  • EISH NO says:

    Bravo. Pierre de Vos, for having the courage to call it as you see it. I totally agree with your conclusions here. Quite frankly, those who would oppose an academic boycott at thos point, lack empathy and any real conscience (possibly because they see themselves as ‘chosen’ or in some some way superior, i.e. they are RACISTS).

    • James Webster says:

      And of course the majority in South Africa labor under no such pretensions ? On the contrary, the majority in South Africa constantly view themselves as being chosen because they delude themselves that their substandard performance is as a result of systemic discrimination rather than their own shortcomings. What is more, is that they somehow think they are intellectually superior to most of the world so they alone can make thoroughly discredited systems such as Marxism and Socialism work, when vastly better minds than theirs couldn’t. While your classification of such attitudes as being racist condemns the majority in South Africa as being racists by your own definition, we can not actually accept that classification because the race card is spuriously and cynically applied all the time as a get-out-of-jail-free card for subpar behaviour and consequently is totally devalued by its irrelevant over application. Either way you would do well to look in the mirror when applying your ludicrously hypocritical judgements. We won’t even mention the obvious flaw in your argument that perhaps in the case of Palestinian behaviour towards Jews, Palestinian behaviour is inferior.

      • Dietmar Horn says:

        Complete agreement. The post to which you reply reveals once again the deeply ingrained mentality of trying to kill any dialogue about the matter with the accusation of racism in order to make yourself comfortable in the role of victim.

      • Awake Not Woke says:

        This perspective overlooks the lasting impact of apartheid on South African society. Systemic discrimination undeniably affects opportunities and outcomes across generations.
        Blaming all shortcomings on historical injustice unfairly paints a one-sided picture. South Africa boasts numerous success stories, and many individuals strive to overcome past limitations.
        Socialist and Marxist ideas can hold value in specific contexts, even if on a smaller scale, focusing on social welfare and equality. Evaluating these systems based on merit, not ideology, is crucial.
        Racism isn’t just about individual prejudice but also about power dynamics. Discriminatory structures can exist even if the majority doesn’t hold conscious malice.
        The “race card” argument often seeks to downplay legitimate grievances. Openly discussing racial issues is essential for progress.

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