University of California issues first of its kind condemnation of Israeli boycott

All ten chancellors in the University of California system signed a letter condemning an academic boycott against Israel.

The University of California became the first university to condemn a campus boycott in a statement, according to a press release by the AMCHA Initiative, a nonprofit organization which combats anti-Semitism on college campuses.

The university system’s statement was in response to a letter from 101 different organizations calling for universities to sign the University Leaders Statement Against the Implementation of an Academic Boycott of Israel, an agreement against Israeli academic boycotts.

“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,” the statement reads. “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.”

Recently, one professor and one teaching assistant at the University of Michigan agreed to write recommendation letters for students wishing to study abroad but rescinded those offers upon discovering that the students wanted to study in Israel. Pitzer College also attempted to retire completely the college’s Israel study abroad program.

[RELATED: UMich punishes prof who denied Israel recommendation]

Incidents such as these are caused by college faculty implementing the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) guidelines, which urge universities to “boycott and/or work towards the cancellation or annulment of events, activities, agreements, or projects involving Israeli academic institutes or that otherwise promote the normalization of Israel in the global academy.”

“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,” AMCHA founder and director Tammi Rossman-Benjamin stated in the press release. “This is about protecting the academic freedom and educational rights of Jewish students, which will be violated if an academic boycott is permitted.”

“We are very happy with the statement and 100 [percent] agree that they should be condemned,” a spokesperson for Slugs for Israel, a UC Santa Cruz student organization, said in a statement to Campus Reform. “A boycott is a way to shut down opposing views, and this is why we think it’s very important and truly a good thing that the UC chancellors recognize this.”

[RELATED: Stanford RA threatens to ‘physically fight’ pro-Israel students]

“We’re glad that the chancellors realize that this is also an issue of academic freedom, as people who support the boycott often have ill intentions against Israel and aim to prevent students from learning about Israel, visiting Israel, or supporting Israel in any way.”

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