(JNS) The University of California became the first institution of higher education to issue a condemnation against faculty support for BDS in the aftermath of such cases at the University of Michigan and Pitzer College. “As chancellors of the University of California campuses, we write to reaffirm our long-standing 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.” The University of California’s 10 chancellors added: “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.”
These incidents caused more than 100 national and local groups to call on the same 250 higher-education leaders who denounced the American Studies Association’s anti-Israel boycott to sign a letter to affirm their opposition to the anti-Israel movement. Said Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, founder and director of the AMCHA Initiative: “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. … 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.
“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.”
There have been 564 antisemitic incidents on U.S. college campuses so far in 2018, compared to 652 the previous year and 639 in 2016.