At Last Minute, South African University Snubs Israeli Diplomat

May 22, 2012  

The University of Kwa-Zulu Natal (UKZN) has cancelled a planned lecture by the Israeli deputy ambassador to South Africa, Yaakov Finkelstein, one day before it was due to be held.

According to the Islamic CII Broadcasting website, the university cancelled the speech, which was planned for Monday, in response to “pressure from students and lecturers.”

UKZN’s deputy vice-chancellor, Professor Joseph Ayee, wrote in an email sent to staff on Sunday: “I have reconsidered the sensitivities that the visit of the Israeli Deputy Ambassador have generated. Given the negative publicity that the visit will give UKZN, I hereby cancel the visit and the lecture by the Israeli Deputy Ambassador scheduled for tomorrow, Monday, 21 May 2012.”

Ayee explained that the Israeli diplomat will would bring “likely reputational damage for the institution [which] is not in the interest of all of us.”

“UKZN is bigger than all of us. I believe that for an event to be held under a cloud with reputational damage for the institution is not in the interest of all of us,” the letter stated.

BDS South Africa noted that Professor Haidar Eid of Gaza hailed the UKZN’s decision, “Palestinians welcome UKZN’s cancellation of the ill-conceived visit by an Israeli diplomat. This is another sign of the swelling South African support for BDS against Israeli occupation and apartheid that led last year to the precedent-setting decision by the University of Johannesburg to sever links with a complicit Israeli university, and this year to the Ministry of Trade and Industry’s ban on false labeling of Israel’s colonies’ products. We are inspired by these expressions of genuine solidarity.”

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