For Mboweni's growth plan to succeed the ANC has to give up certain dogmatic positions that were formulated when 7% growth was the status quo, writes Adriaan Basson.
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UCT has earned a reputation as a beacon of intellectual progress. This reputation will be set back if it indulges a politically-motivated and ideologically biased agenda to unfairly alienate the democracy of Israel, writes Ansel Brown.
On April 2, 2019, I had the privilege of
giving a lecture at the University of Cape Town (UCT). The topic was "The Prospects
for African Solidarity and Pan-Africanism," where I discussed the unique
challenges that Africans in the diaspora and Africans in the continent face in
our struggle for collective progress and full self-realisation.
While much of the lecture was devoted to
examining these challenges and exploring solutions for Africans around the
world, I made an important note that is worth re-visiting in light of a larger
debate that is ongoing within the UCT community. Specifically, I shared with
UCT faculty and students how my own yearnings as an African American for
solidarity among Africans worldwide was inspired in part by the Jewish
experience of exile from their homeland and the re-constitution of Israel as a
sovereign and successful nation in our modern times.
Just two days before my lecture, on March
30, 2019, the UCT council decided to refrain from passing a resolution aimed at
boycotting Israeli academic institutions. While there was a brief respite from
this ill-advised resolution, it still remains on the table for consideration.
There are several important reasons why UCT must permanently shelve this
resolution, which is deeply flawed with factual distortions at best and laced
with antisemitic undertones at worst.
Of foremost concern, academic freedom
demands that UCT not stifle the intellectual liberty of members of its
community to engage in scholarship and other collaborative efforts with faculty
and students at Israeli academic institutions. It is the unique and sacrosanct
space of the academy where ideas and relationships should freely flow without
fear of censure and retaliation. Further, there is absolutely no evidence that
Israeli academic institutions are engaged in the kind of discourse, i.e.,
hatred and incitement, that could justifiably be censured by UCT.
Ironically, there are many institutions
within antagonistic countries surrounding Israel where such hate speech and
incitement do prevail. These should be the subject of discussion about censure.
Democracy in a sea of dictatorial regimes
If an academic
institution such as UCT opts to boycott academic institutions around the world
where human rights are being abused, Israel would be one of the last places to
start. Israel is the only free democracy in a sea of dictatorial regimes where
the rights of women, minorities, and political dissidents are trampled upon
daily. UCT would need to begin with Iran, Turkey, Syria, Egypt, Saudi Arabia,
Yemen, and Sudan. China and North Korea would also make notable candidates for
such a boycott. Isolating the only consistent democracy in the Middle East
represents not only an illogical administration of moral condemnation, but this
lopsided focus on the world's only Jewish country smacks of blatant
imperfections just as every nation, and these imperfections should be critiqued
on the same footing as other nations. In fact, Israel is an open society where
these imperfections are publicly and freely scrutinised and contested. However,
the castigation of Israel alone as deserving of boycott where other nations
with serious human rights violations are conveniently overlooked is an unjust
demonisation with which the Jewish people are, unfortunately, all too familiar.
Boycotts are not inherently flawed when
they are rightly and appropriately directed. It was the boycotts against
segregationist businesses in the United States that helped to bring repressive
Jim Crow laws to a grinding halt. It was the boycotts of the apartheid regime
in South Africa that helped to bring about the political freedom of millions of
black South Africans. These were boycotts rightly and appropriately directed
against systems that unjustly imposed a repressive order on their own people.
Today there are 1.6 million Israeli Arabs – 21% of the Israeli
population who have full civil and political rights. There is no apartheid or
segregation in Israel. And contrary to popular belief, over half of the Israel's
6.6 million Jews are from the Middle East and Africa, not Europe. Israel is
indeed a diverse society where Jews, Arabs, Christians, men, women, religious,
and secular alike have full civil rights.
Those who would suggest
that Israel's presence in the territories is akin to apartheid must square with
truth and history. Israel is not occupying or controlling foreign land. The
territories have been inhabited by Jewish people for over 3 000 years as the
heart of the Jewish homeland. The name "Palestine" was imposed upon
the land of Israel by Roman occupiers in 70 C.E., who sought to crush the
Jewish national spirit by renaming their homeland after Israel's historical
antagonists, the Philistines. The ancient Philistines were interestingly also
Europeans originally from Crete, and not Arabs, who only began to arrive in
present day Israel in 636 C.E. Much as the British renamed Great Zimbabwe to "Rhodesia"
in order to suppress native Africans, the Romans renamed Israel to "Palestine"
in order to suppress the native Jews.
Nonetheless, there has
remained an unbroken Jewish presence in Israel from 2000 B.C.E. until the
present. Notwithstanding this long-established history, the people of Israel
have accepted nearly every proposal to partition their homeland as an olive
branch to their Arab neighbours. These offers have been rejected repeatedly by
the Palestinian leadership, which has betrayed the hopes and rights of the
Palestinian people, instead engaging in warfare, terrorism, and a campaign to
utterly destroy the nation of Israel. If there is to be a boycott, it would
more appropriately be directed at the Palestinian leadership and not innocent
Israeli college students, including 47 000 Arab students studying in Israeli
The University of Cape Town has earned a
reputation as one of Africa's finest institutions. This reputation of being a
beacon of intellectual progress and scholarship will be set back if UCT
indulges a politically-motivated and ideologically biased agenda to unfairly
alienate the democracy of Israel, a country that happens to have been formed
out of the burning embers of one of the most horrific human rights crimes in
recorded history, the holocaust.
Boycotting Israeli universities would
serve to target innocent civilians, notably professors and young students. UCT
would be boycotting Israeli scholars who have made countless contributions to
human progress in the areas of science, technology, the humanities, and
numerous other breakthroughs that have benefited the world.
The University of Cape
Town is a fine institution that should stand as a beacon of hope, freedom, and
intellectual excellence for the continent of Africa and the world. Hopefully,
this light will not be dimmed by a resolution that is an affront to moral
fairness and intellectual freedom.
- Ansel Brown is clinical assistant professor in the
Department of Political Science at the North Carolina Central University.
Disclaimer: News24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24. ener is a specialist reporter for News24.
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