August 19, 2019

101 Pro-Israel Organizations Call on 250 Universities to Condemn Academic BDS

Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

A group of 101 pro-Israel organizations sent a letter on Tuesday to 250 university leaders to condemn academic boycotts of Israel.

The letter, as part of an AMCHA Initiative campaign, called for the university leaders to sign the University Leaders Statement Against the Implementation of an Academic Boycott of Israel, arguing that it was necessary after two University of Michigan instructors refused to write letters of recommendation for students to study abroad in Israel and Pitzer College faculty voted on a motion to suspend the college’s study abroad program at the University of Haifa.

“We are concerned at the prospect of some individuals on our campuses actually proceeding to implement an academic boycott by complying with the 2014 guidelines of the Palestinian Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI),” the University Leaders Statement reads. “Implementing these guidelines will not only inflict serious harm on Israeli academic institutions, but on faculty and students at our own schools as well.”

The statement quotes the PACBI guidelines that members of academia should aim toward “the cancellation or annulment of events, activities, agreements, or projects involving Israeli academic institutes or that otherwise promote the normalization of Israel in the global academy…or violate the BDS guidelines.”

“All of these actions to implement academic boycotts of Israel subvert the scholarly and educational opportunities or curtail the academic freedom of colleagues and students who are members of our own campus communities,” the statement reads. “Some of the actions above, along with other forms of personal assault, are carried out by students as well.”

“Treating one’s own students or faculty colleagues as collateral damage to a political agenda is wrong and violates the principles of collegiality and academic integrity central to our institutions,” the statement continues. “We condemn such behavior in the strongest terms.”

The universities that the letter was sent to includes UCLA, UC Berkeley and Columbia University; the organizations that signed the letter include the Simon Wiesenthal Center, StandWithUs and Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA).

“University presidents must sign this condemnation pledge and make it clear that this reprehensible behavior which, in the name of politics, directly violates the rights of students and curtails students’ educational opportunities, will not be tolerated,” AMCHA Initiative director Tammi Ross-Benjamin said in a statement sent to the Journal.