July 20, 2019

Judea Pearl Asks NYU to Rescind His Award Over SJP

Judea Pearl, chancellor professor of computer science at UCLA and Daniel Pearl Foundation president, asked New York University (NYU) to rescind his Distinguished Alumnus Award over the university’s decision to give an award to the campus Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) chapter.

NYU SJP announced in a Facebook post on April 4 that they are going to be receiving a President’s Service Award on April 17 for “significant contributions to the university community in the areas of learning, leadership, and quality of student life.”

Pearl, who is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, wrote in an April 16 letter to NYU President Andrew Hamilton, which was obtained by the Journal, that keeping his November 2013 award, “would bestow respectability” on NYU’s decision.

“In the past five years, SJP has resorted to intimidation tactics that have made me, my colleagues and my students unwelcome and unsafe on our own campus,” Pearl wrote. “The decision to confer an award on SJP, renders other NYU awards empty of content, and suspect of reckless selection process.”

Pearl added that spokesperson from NYU keep telling him that they couldn’t rescind the award to SJP due to “free speech” reasons.

“I have been in academia for close to fifty years, and I know the difference between free speech and campus norms,” Pearl wrote. “Entrusted with the mandate of maintaining a climate of learning and mutual respect, your office should have distanced itself from the SJP selection and explain to the campus why such distancing is necessary.”

Pearl concluded, “I respectfully request to remove my name from the list of
honored NYU alumni.”

A university spokesperson for NYU did not respond to the Journal’s request for comment.

In April 2018, a member of NYU SJP was arrested on charges of assault after he ripped the microphone out of the hands of an NYU student at a Yom Haatzmut rally and began shouting “Free Palestine!” into the microphone.