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We’re Witnessing ‘the Anti-Israel Politicisation of the US Academy’

We’re Witnessing ‘the Anti-Israel Politicisation of the US Academy’

“an international campaign for departmental endorsement of a statement identifying Israel as a moral and political outlaw”

Anti-Israel policies are being embraced at American colleges and universities. It’s been going on for years and it’s getting worse.

Cary Nelson, a Jubilee Professor of Liberal Arts & Sciences emeritus at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, writes at Fathom Journal:

The Anti-Israel Politicisation of the US Academy: The Next Phase is Happening at California and Illinois

For the last year I have argued repeatedly to all who would listen that May 2021 represented a watershed moment for the anti-Zionist politicisation of the academy.[1] That month Women’s and Gender Studies programs organised an international campaign for departmental endorsement of a statement identifying Israel as a moral and political outlaw. On my own campus four academic programs either signed that statement or issued one of their own; Gender and Women’s Studies, Asian American Studies, Urban and Regional Planning, and History.

Neither I nor colleagues elsewhere have been able to find earlier examples of academic departments taking official stands on controversial political topics. Even during the Vietnam War, during the 1970s when opposition to the war was near universal in the academy, individual departments did not do so, though some faculty senates did. But in May of last year academic programs for the first time officially represented themselves as vehicles of anti-Zionism. They did so without acknowledging that Zionism is the national movement of the Jewish people, seeking Jewish political self-determination in their ancestral homeland. They find nothing nuanced, let alone anything positive, to say about Israeli society. In contrast to occasional statements on social issues reflecting broad campus consensus, academic units were now endorsing a political position that sharply divided students, staff, and faculty. More recently, a new and more decisive phase of departmental politicisation has been in process, not only in the University of California   but also on my own campus, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

California’s system-wide academic senate is considering whether to establish departmental politicisation as a guaranteed right. The faculty senate of UIUC, the flagship campus of the University of Illinois system, may be on the verge of doing the same.[2] The Illinois senate committee that drafted the policy recommendation, the Committee on General University Policy, has urged its adoption; its recommendation is now being reviewed by the Senate Committee on Academic Freedom and Tenure.[3] Some Faculty members in both states have expressed their opposition to department political statements, so far to no avail. If the California and Illinois systems endorse departmental politicisation, other campuses are likely to follow. Given the international character of the list of departments signing the May 2021 anti-Zionist statement, among them programs in Britain and Canada, some universities in other countries may follow the US example.


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“Women’s and Gender Studies programs …”

There’s your first problem. These and any other “studies” programs exist solely to pursue political goals. (Okay, one of those goals is to guaranty a source of high paying jobs for political activists)

What else could you expect?

    The Gentle Grizzly in reply to irv. | May 12, 2022 at 10:35 am

    Studies departments also are a place to park those otherwise unqualified for college but to meet Dept of Ed and Justice Dept quotas.

The only way around this is to exert influence from state governments on the university.