Campus Reform | REPORT: Anti-Israel profs ‘weaponizing’ curricula for political agenda

REPORT: Anti-Israel profs ‘weaponizing’ curricula for political agenda

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Anti-Semitism watchdog group AMCHA Initiative released a study revealing what it says is the first empirical evidence that academics in support of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement against Israel are directly promoting this political agenda in their classrooms.  

The AMCHA Initiative is a non-profit dedicated to conducting research to combat anti-Semitism on college campuses. Its most recent study used syllabi from 50 different courses addressing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from 40 different public and private institutions over the past 11 years. 

The findings indicated that almost four out of five course readings assigned by BDS supporting instructors were written by BDS supporters. In contrast, only 17 percent of readings assigned by instructors who were not proclaimed BDS supporters were from BDS supporting authors.

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The same study found that there was almost no overlap in the content taught by non-BDS professors and BDS supporting professors. In the AMCHA Initiative's report, the authors suggest that this type of behavior is, “severely limiting or completely excluding readings that would provide a more balanced picture of Israel.” 

In the “Bringing BDS into the Classroom” report, the authors acknowledge the importance of free speech on college campuses and the creative freedom academics have to develop their course as they see fit but they warn of the dangers of “...politically-motivated faculty weaponizing their course curricula.” 

The researchers noted that this harms academic integrity and therefore what the mission of a university institution is. They stress that allowing this sentiment to live on college campuses turns Jewish and pro-Isreal students into targets. 

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In another study performed by AMCHA, "The Harassment of Jewish Students on U.S. Campuses: How Eliminationist Anti-Zionism and Academic BDS Incite Campus Anti-Semitism”, it is revealed that events sponsored by academics that contained the delegitimization of Isreal increased by 85 percent from 2017 to 2018. 

AMCHA called universities to take a stand and protect their academic mission, saying, “universities should establish and publicly affirm policies that prohibit faculty from using their classrooms for political rather than pedagogical purposes.”

AMCHA urged institutions to release statements on the harm of BDS on students and academia. Chancellors and presidents at the University of California, University of Michigan, University of Massachusett-Amherst, and Pitzer College have released statements condemning the implementation of BDS curriculum on their campuses. 

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