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Israeli oppression similar to colonial occupation: Academic

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As South African scholars, we want to pledge our support and commitment to the Palestinian people.” This was the declaration from Prof. Robert van Niekerk of the Rhodes Palestine Solidarity Forum and a signatory of a new campaign, which will see 200 South African academics from the country’s top tertiary institutions voice their support for a growing boycott against Israeli institutions. The scholars have collectively signed a declaration pledging to severe all associations with universities based in the Middle Eastern state over the country’s continued persecution of Palestinians.

The move follows in the steps of a similar stance taken by well over 300 academics in the United Kingdom in late October, signalling their support for the Palestinian people living under occupation. The group also agreed to a complete institutional disassociation from Israeli academic institutions. Over 100 academics in Ireland also followed suit.

“204 people have undersigned this commitment, we pledge a total institutional disassociation from any arrangement with all Israeli institutions,” said Van Niekerk.

Palestinian students, both at higher education institutions as well as schools were not being afforded the quality of education that could be considered in line with their basic human rights, he added. Hence part of the campaign was seeking to create an arrangement in Palestine whereby Palestinians could be in control of their own destiny.

“It’s almost incorrect to argue an Apartheid analogy. It is much comparable with the brutal colonial occupation. We feel that in the context of the oppression and exploitation of the Palestinian, we as academics need to put our voices of conscious in support of their struggle,” he noted.

He also added that the academic movement was growing globally. This included support from the American Anthropological Association, which voted on an 88% majority amongst its 1800 members calling for an academic boycott of Israel.

The full list of signatories can be found via the following link: VOC

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