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The newly appointed Chancellor of the University of California – Berkeley (CAL) denied in a recent interview that he signed a petition demanding Columbia University divest from companies doing business with Israel.
While chair of Columbia’s Department of Anthropology in 2002, Nicholas Dirks’ name appeared on a controversial petition calling for the Ivy League school to divest from Israel because of the “brutality of Israeli military rule over Palestinians.”
Dirks denied that he signed the petition, in an interview with the University of California’s Office of Public Affairs.
“[A]t some point, [I] saw my name on a list and asked it to be removed,” said Dirks.
His name no longer appears on the online list of supporters.
Dirks did not elaborate in the interview on how his name initially appeared on the petition.
“The short answer is that his name was placed on the list by someone, and he does not know who it was or why,” Dan Mogulof, Executive Director of CAL’s Public Affairs Office, added to Campus Reform.
In the interview with UCOPA, Dirks claimed he does not “support divestment as a strategy for the university.”
The newly appointed chancellor did, however, concede his wife was a supporter of the divestment effort in 2002.
“[S]he did, back in 2002 sign one of the divestment petitions that was circulating around Columbia,” Dirks said.
He added his wife has since changed her position, describing her action as “an unfortunate and ill-thought moment in her life.”
UC Berkeley previously attracted international attention for efforts to divest from companies conducting business with Israel.
In 2010, the student government passed a bill urging the university to divest from Israel, but the student government president vetoed the bill.
Earlier this year, the University of California Student association secretly passed a resolution that accused the nation of Israel of racism, alleging a “wealth of scholarship and legal opinion” exists affirming their claim.
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