Seven professors from Israeli universities will not participate in a conference on Historical Trauma at a university in South Africa after pressure from boycott groups against Israel.
The four-day conference “Recognition, Reparation, Reconciliation: The Light and Shadow of Historical Trauma,” will begin on Dec. 4 at Stellenbosch University.
Last week 18 Palestinian solidarity groups called on the conference’s organisers, speakers, participants and sponsors to withdraw Israeli participation in the conference. Among the groups are South African Jews for a Free Palestine.
In a letter to delegates posted Tuesday on the website of the conference, Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela, chair of organising committee, said that he had been “in contact with the Israeli academics, and they have all since rescinded their participation at the conference and will no longer be part of the programme.” Reports in South African media and elsewhere said that the invitations to the Israeli academics to participate had been withdrawn.
The professors came from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Tel Aviv University and Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. Gobodo-Madikizela noted that the academics’ research “involved disrupting the Israel narrative” and that “none of the Israeli participants we invited … represents the position of the state of Israel against Palestinians.”
He wrote: “The call to boycott is an important one. The problem is whether a distinction can be made to permit an Israeli academic to take part whose work clearly exposes, rather than normalises, experiences that are painful and traumatic. Clearly, the rationale for the boycott does not call for the exclusion of someone whose work unambiguously exposes the very conditions that led to the call for a boycott.”
Listen to this week’s podcast here:
While life in Israel has returned to normal and hopes are high that Britain is set for a summer without restrictions thanks to vaccines, for billions around the world there is no such imminent light at the end of the tunnel. In the majority of countries around the globe, particularly the poorest, the vaccine rollout has barely kicked off.
That's why Jewish News, the leading source of news and opinion for the entire UK community, is throwing its full weight behind UNICEF’s VaccinAid campaign by using this platform usually reserved for encouraging donations towards our own journalism to instead urge our readers around the globe to perform the greatest mitzvah: saving a life.
We have never before done this for any charity fundraiser but it's hard to recall a campaign that affects so many people, and indeed an entire planet aching for a return to normality. Just like the Chief Rabbi and Rachel Riley, we hope to boost the mission to deliver two billion vaccines, 165 million treatments and 900 million test kits around the world by the end of this year.
Please donate as much as you can, in the spirit of the Talmudic sages: “to save one life is to save the world entire”