Thursday, March 24, 2011

University of Johannesburg severs ties with Ben Gurion U

From iAfrica:
The University of Johannesburg (UJ) has officially severed ties with Israel's Ben-Gurion University (BGU), deputy vice chancellor Adam Habib said on Wednesday.

"It will happen as per protocol on 1 April," Habib told Sapa.

"We had a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with them and that will now be severed."

Ben-Gurion University, however, had been working with UJ on finding a method to clean algae that has infested South Africa's drinking water. The severing of ties meant the project was likely to come an end, leaving UJ without access to BGU's extensive water expertise.

"There has been quite a lot of scare mongering that if the partnership breaks, South Africa will be confined to bad water quality," Habib said.

"The quality of our water is suffering because we are not spending the type of money on cleaning water that we need to, and not employing skill sets required.

"We can deal with acid rain water in the region if we are prepared to spend money."

UJ's severing of ties with came amidst talk of steep water tariff increases and a warning South Africa could run out of water within the next ten years if nothing was done to supplement water resources.

The Environment and Conservation Association has said that by 2015, 80 percent of South Africa's fresh water would be so badly polluted that no purification process in the country would make it fit for consumption.

The impending disaster that would be created by acid mine drainage, as well as by sewerage and industrial pollution, had on many occasions been brought to the government's attention, with no positive results, the association said.
Ah, these UJ professors are so principled, to be able to set aside the health of their people just to express their hate for Israel! How admirable!

The petition itself is a wonderful example of what a sham academia has become. 400 professors signed onto a petition to sever ties with BGU without any of them actually noticing that much of what the petition claimed are lies.

The Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories has had disastrous effects on access to education for Palestinians. While Palestinians are not able to access universities and schools, Israeli universities produce the research, technology, arguments and leaders for maintaining the occupation..
Let's see...before the "occupation" the Arabs in the West Bank and Gaza had no access to Israeli schools. Now, they do (look at Omar Barghouti.)

And is Israel restricting access to West Bank Arab universities? Well, I know that Jews can't attend them. Maybe that's what they are referring to.

Wait, it gets better:

[BGU's] President, Rivka Carmi, describes the University as a ‘proudly Zionist institution’ [3], which effectively supports the official ideology of the Israeli state.
The signatories of the petition already know that Zionism is evil, so therefore what else needs to be said?

BGU aids and provides academic scholarships and has official protocols for providing
support to army reservist students.
And as everyone knows, the primary purpose of the Israel Defense Forces is to oppress the Palestinian Arabs, not to, you know, defend Israel.
While Palestinian citizens of Israel constitute more than 20% of the country’s population, only 9.5% of B.A. students, 4.8% of M.A. students, 3.2% of Ph.D. students and a mere 1% of the academic staff in Israeli academic institutions are Palestinians [10].
Hmmmm. In 2008, 31,527 whites graduated from South African universities, as opposed to 36,970 blacks - 46% of graduates are white. Yet the population in South Africa is only 10% white. Which means that South African universities are overwhelmingly preferential to white students compared to their proportion of the population! And I am willing to be that the majority of professors at UJ are white. Maybe the world should boycott the university until 90% of its staff and students are non-white!

Perhaps the most telling section of this academic petition are its footnotes. The very use of footnotes is meant to give an aura of scholarship to the factoids being given there. So, for example, we see:
• The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights released a report detailing how Palestinian applicants are three times as likely to be rejected by Israeli academic institutions than Jewish applicants [11].
Footnote 11 refers to a 2005 article in Adalah which itself has lots of interesting statistics - but no citations whatsoever. And that article did not quote the UNCHR, but an Israeli group called Sikkuy, for this statistic.

Of course, that statistic, even if true, is meaningless out of context. Did the study look at equally-qualified students? Did it compare grades and the results of any standardized tests?

From a scholarship perspective, any decent professor would grade this petition a D. Yet 400 academics signed it!

Which just goes to show that hundreds of South African academics are self-righteous hypocrites, who cannot even be bothered to do basic fact checking on a petition before signing it - as long as it adheres to their already pre-existing prejudices.

This sham of a petition was signed by:
- 9 Vice Chancellors and Deputy Vice Chancellors
- 11 Deans and Vice Deans
- 21 Chairs and Heads of Department
- 170 University Professors
- 125 Academic Doctorates

South African academics are prejudiced? Yes, they are.