In recent posts we have discussed how anti-Israel faculty at some universities and colleges have gone rogue.

Knowing that their institutions reject the academic boycott of Israel, these faculty members impose the boycott on students to deprive students of educational opportunities to study on approved programs in Israel.

This is unethical conduct which exploits faculty power over students to impose faculty political preferences. Faculty who themselves don’t wish to interact with Israelis are free to do so, but they are not free to deprive students of participation in university approved educational opportunities.

The AMCHA Initiative recently launched an outreach to the 250 university and college presidents who opposed the 2013 academic boycott passed by the American Studies Association. The list used by AMCHA is a list compiled by Legal Insurrection in late 2013 and early 2014 as a result of our reader crowdsourcing project.

[Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, AMCHA Initiative, at UC Regents Meeting 2016]

We covered the recent effort in ALERT – University Presidents called upon to prevent rogue faculty from implementing Academic Boycott of Israel.

That effort has paid quick dividends. The Chancellors from 10 University of California campuses just reaffirmed their opposition to the academic boycott of Israel, in the following statement:

As chancellors of the University of California campuses, we write to reaffirm our longstanding opposition to an academic boycott of Israeli academic institutions and/or individual scholars. Our commitment to continued engagement and partnership with Israeli, as well as Palestinian colleagues, colleges, and universities is unwavering. We believe a boycott of this sort poses a direct and serious threat to the academic freedom of our students and faculty, as well as the unfettered exchange of ideas and perspectives on our campuses, including debate and discourse regarding conflicts in the Middle East.

AMCHA explains the significance in a press release:

 In reply to a letter from 101 organizations and calls from thousands of concerned citizens, the University of California (UC) became the first university to issue a statement of condemnation against any attempts by faculty to implement an academic boycott of Israel on campus…

The statement was signed by all 10 UC chancellors.

Acting on political grounds, college instructors have recently begun attempting to implement the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) guidelines and prevent their students from studying in and about Israel. Earlier this fall, two University of Michigan faculty refused letters of recommendation to Michigan students applying to Israel study abroad programs, and Pitzer College faculty attempted to shut down Pitzer’s Israel study abroad program altogether, as the PACBI boycott calls on faculty to do. Other PACBI guidelines include having faculty scuttle their colleagues’ research collaborations with Israeli universities and scholars and cancel or shutdown student- and faculty-organized educational activities about Israel to take place on their own campus….

To support last week’s group letter, this week, AMCHA asked its supporters to sign a national petition and to write letters to their respective college and university leaders urging them to sign the University Leaders Statement or to issue their own statements condemning implementation of an academic boycott. Nearly 2,000 individuals have already signed the national petition and hundreds have written letters.

“While the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) has long been understood as an effort aimed at Israel and Israeli universities and scholars, that is only a piece of the actual picture.  As UC has correctly recognized, an academic boycott, if allowed to be implemented, will directly violate the rights of, and substantively harm, students and faculty on U.S. campuses, many of them Jewish students,” stated Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, AMCHA’s founder and director.  “If this was just about Israel, we would not be involved, as AMCHA is not an Israel advocacy organization.  However, this is about protecting the academic freedom and educational rights of Jewish students, which will be violated if an academic boycott is permitted.”

“Now that professors are actually attempting to implement PACBI’s academic boycott and curtail American students’ rights, the statements issued in 2013 are no longer sufficient,” added Rossman-Benjamin.  “University leaders must sign the University Leaders Statement or issue their own statements as UC has done, making it abundantly clear that under no circumstances will faculty be allowed to implement an academic boycott of Israel and put their own political interests above their own students.”

Now that the Chancellors have reaffirmed that the academic boycott of Israel is “a direct and serious threat to the academic freedom of our students and faculty,” there is no excuse for failing to discipline faculty who so blatantly violate university policy by imposing the boycott on students and other faculty.

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