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December 26, 2013 2

University Presidents Across The Country Reject Academic Boycott Of Israel

The deci­sion by the Amer­i­can Stud­ies Asso­ci­a­tion (ASA) to boy­cott Israeli aca­d­e­mic insti­tu­tions has yielded a sil­ver lin­ing: a wide­spread con­dem­na­tion of the deci­sion – and the broader Boy­cott, Divest­ment Sanc­tions (BDS) move­ment – by uni­ver­sity admin­is­tra­tors across the United States.asa-harvard-statement

Since the ASA’s Decem­ber 16th deci­sion to sup­port a boy­cott, which ADL decried as “intel­lec­tu­ally dis­hon­est and shame­ful,” there has been an increas­ing groundswell of rejec­tion by uni­ver­sity pres­i­dents, fac­ulty and aca­d­e­mic asso­ci­a­tions. These state­ments, which num­ber in the dozens, have force­fully and respon­si­bly affirmed the prin­ci­ples and soci­etal ben­e­fits of aca­d­e­mic free­dom and open dialogue. 

Uni­ver­sity pres­i­dents of large and small col­leges and uni­ver­si­ties have made pro­nounce­ments on the topic, including:

  • Pres­i­dent Drew Faust of Har­vard Uni­ver­sity, who said:  “Aca­d­e­mic boy­cotts sub­vert the aca­d­e­mic free­doms and val­ues nec­es­sary to the free flow of ideas, which is the lifeblood of the world­wide com­mu­nity of schol­ars. The recent res­o­lu­tion of the ASA propos­ing to boy­cott Israeli uni­ver­si­ties rep­re­sents a direct threat to these ideals, ideals which uni­ver­si­ties and schol­arly asso­ci­a­tions should be ded­i­cated to defend.”
  • Pres­i­dent Ronald J. Daniels  and Provost Robert C. Lieber­man of Johns Hop­kins Uni­ver­sity, who said: “The Israeli-Palestinian con­flict is, of course, a com­plex mat­ter on which many in our com­mu­nity hold pas­sion­ate and com­pet­ing views. We can all agree, how­ever, that one essen­tial ingre­di­ent to the res­o­lu­tion of that con­flict will be the free exchange of infor­ma­tion and open debate of ideas. This boy­cott is a con­tra­dic­tion, one that threat­ens what it pur­ports to pro­tect: the free­dom of thought and expres­sion that is the heart­beat of our aca­d­e­mic community.”
  • Pres­i­dent Mary Sue Cole­man and Provost Martha Pol­lack of Uni­ver­sity of Michi­gan, who said:  “The Uni­ver­sity of Michi­gan strongly opposes the boy­cott of aca­d­e­mic insti­tu­tions in Israel that was recently endorsed by sev­eral aca­d­e­mic asso­ci­a­tions. While we affirm the right of indi­vid­ual fac­ulty, fac­ul­ties, and pro­fes­sional aca­d­e­mic asso­ci­a­tions to hold and express dif­fer­ent view­points, we believe that aca­d­e­mic boy­cotts vio­late the prin­ci­ples of aca­d­e­mic free­dom and free­dom of speech, which are fun­da­men­tal to our mis­sions of edu­ca­tion and research. The Uni­ver­sity of Michi­gan is com­mit­ted to con­tin­u­ing and strength­en­ing its long-standing and pro­duc­tive insti­tu­tional rela­tion­ships with Israeli uni­ver­si­ties and institutes.”

Sev­eral Amer­i­can Stud­ies depart­ments have also resigned from the ASA.  

ADL has com­piled a list of select state­ments which we are updat­ing daily.  Other blog­gers are also main­tain­ing full lists of all uni­ver­sity state­ments and actions. 

Here’s what you can do:

Check these lists to see if offi­cials at your alma mater have spo­ken out.  If they have, write the pres­i­dent or chan­cel­lor to com­mend them. 

If they have not, con­tact the office of the pres­i­dent or chan­cel­lor and call on them to join their col­leagues around the coun­try in con­demn­ing the aca­d­e­mic boy­cott of Israel and stand­ing firm in sup­port of aca­d­e­mic freedom.

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December 11, 2013 1

University Of Michigan Latest School To Be Hit With Anti-Israel Mock Eviction Notices

Mock evic­tion notices were recently dis­trib­uted at the Uni­ver­sity of Michi­gan by the pro-Palestinian stu­dent group “Stu­dents Allied for Free­dom and Equal­ity.” More than one thou­sand stu­dents report­edly received the notices on their res­i­dence hall room doors on Tues­day, Decem­ber 10, which warned them that their dor­mi­tory would be demol­ished by Decem­ber 13.michigan-mock-eviction-notice

The notices were made to appear as though they were issued by the university’s Depart­ment of Hous­ing and were designed to mimic the evic­tion notices received by some Pales­tini­ans in the West Bank if their homes were built ille­gally or needed to be demol­ished because of Israeli secu­rity con­cerns. The notices, how­ever, claim that Israel evicts Pales­tini­ans from their homes for the pur­pose of “mak[ing] life so mis­er­able for Arabs that they leave.”

Stu­dents affil­i­ated with SAFE also pub­lished a “View­point” piece on the uni­ver­sity newspaper’s Web site call­ing for Boy­cott, Divest­ment and Sanc­tions (BDS) cam­paigns against Israel and claim­ing that the evic­tion notices are a “tool of polit­i­cal satire.”

These notices, which have appeared on at least a half a dozen other cam­puses in the past few years, have pre­vi­ously made some stu­dents feel threat­ened or intimidated.

For exam­ple, after stu­dents at Rut­gers Uni­ver­sity received the notices in Octo­ber 2013, Esther Reed, the rabbi of Rutgers’s Hil­lel was quoted in the cam­pus news­pa­per say­ing, “stu­dents were made to feel that they were not safe in their res­i­dence halls.” Sim­i­larly, at Florida Atlantic Uni­ver­sity, stu­dents reported feel­ing con­fused or scared after receiv­ing evic­tion notices in March 2012, accord­ing to Palm Beach County Com­mis­sioner Steven Abrams, who spoke to a local news­pa­per shortly after the inci­dent occurred.

Other stu­dents have crit­i­cized the tac­tic for fail­ing to cre­ate dia­logue. At Yale Uni­ver­sity, stu­dents wrote an op-ed in the cam­pus news­pa­per and called the mock evic­tion notices “offen­sive,” claim­ing that there was not “even the faintest attempt at build­ing a con­struc­tive dialogue.”  

In the past few years, anti-Israel stu­dent groups at the fol­low­ing uni­ver­si­ties have cir­cu­lated mock evic­tion notices on campus:

  • Rut­gers Uni­ver­sity, Octo­ber 2013 – Stu­dents from the Rutgers-New Brunswick SJP chap­ter posted mock evic­tion notices in res­i­dence halls through­out the cam­pus to “edu­cate” stu­dents about the expe­ri­ence for some Pales­tini­ans whose homes are demol­ished. Text on the mock evic­tion notices read, “your suite is sched­uled for demo­li­tion in the next three days… If you do not vacate the premise within this time frame, we reserve the right to destroy all remain­ing belongings…This may seem like unre­al­is­ti­cally harsh treat­ment, but this is the actual state of affairs in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip.”
  • San Diego State Uni­ver­sity, March 2013 – Mock evic­tion notices were posted on stu­dents’ res­i­dence hall room doors by mem­bers of the SDSU SJP chap­ter. The notices, which claimed that “$30 bil­lion US tax dol­lars have been used to fund Israeli apartheid in the past decade,” were meant to raise aware­ness over Israel’s alleged human rights vio­la­tions against Palestinians.
  • Har­vard Uni­ver­sity, March 2013 – Mem­bers of the Har­vard Pales­tine Sol­i­dar­ity Com­mit­tee posted mock evic­tion notices on stu­dents’ doors in fresh­man and upper class res­i­dence halls. The notices, which warned stu­dents that their res­i­dence hall rooms were “sched­uled for demo­li­tion in the next three days” were posted in order to pub­li­cize “Israel Apartheid Week” on cam­pus and to raise aware­ness about Israel’s policies.
  • Florida Atlantic Uni­ver­sity, March 2012 – Mock evic­tion notices were posted on nearly 200 stu­dent res­i­dence hall rooms. The action, orga­nized by the FAU SJP chap­ter, warned stu­dents that their rooms were being demol­ished and that “any­one left inside is not our respon­si­bil­ity.” This episode attracted sig­nif­i­cant ire because the flier con­tained the offi­cial seal of university’s Hous­ing and Res­i­den­tial Life Department.  
  • Uni­ver­sity of Chicago, May 2011 – Over 200 mock evic­tion notices were dis­trib­uted by the SJP chap­ter on cam­pus. The notices stated that affected stu­dents would have their rooms demol­ished and that if they did not vacate them, “we reserve the right to destroy your hous­ing unit. We do not main­tain respon­si­bil­ity for any­one remain­ing inside.” 
  • Yale Uni­ver­sity, April 2011 – Mock evic­tion notices were dis­trib­uted by SJP at Yale Uni­ver­sity to crit­i­cize “the actions of the Israeli state” and to pro­mote the group’s upcom­ing events.

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October 30, 2013 2

Is Jewish Voice for Peace Edging Toward a Full Boycott of Israel?

Narrow Bridge Candles screenshot

An image on Nar­row Bridge Can­dles’ web­site calls for the company’s can­dles to “fuel flames of resistance.”

The Boston chap­ter of Jew­ish Voice for Peace posted a mes­sage on its Face­book page on Octo­ber 28th urg­ing its fol­low­ers to buy Hanukkah can­dles from a candle-making project called “Nar­row Bridge Can­dles” that sup­ports the “full Pales­tin­ian call for Boy­cott, Divest­ment and Sanc­tions.” The com­pany, which is based in Oak­land, Cal­i­for­nia, pro­duces dif­fer­ent kinds of can­dles needed for Jew­ish rit­u­als, includ­ing Shab­bat, Havadala and Hanukkah, so that Jews who are “in sol­i­dar­ity with Pales­tine” don’t have to pur­chase can­dles from Israel.

On its web­site, the project claims that Israel has a “monop­oly on Judaica.” In fact, many of the Hanukkah can­dles that are sold in the United States are pro­duced by two Jew­ish com­pa­nies in New York, Rite Lite in Brook­lyn and Ner Mitz­vah in New Square. Another pop­u­lar brand sold in the U.S. is actu­ally man­u­fac­tured in China. While we didn’t take the time to inves­ti­gate the mar­ket share for these com­pa­nies, suf­fice it to say that Israeli-made Hanukkah can­dles are not the only ones avail­able for purchase.

Hanukah candles Tel Aviv

Hanukkah can­dles made in Tel Aviv, Israel

More impor­tantly, JVP Boston’s sup­port for Nar­row Bridge Can­dles demon­strates the incon­sis­tency in JVP’s plat­form on BDS. In its 2011 state­ment regard­ing BDS, JVP-National, which was just named by ADL as a “Top Ten Anti-Israel Group,” stated clearly that the group “focuses our efforts on boy­cott and divest­ment cam­paigns that directly tar­get Israel’s occu­pa­tion of the West Bank and East Jerusalem and its block­ade of the Gaza Strip.” This sug­gests that JVP was restrict­ing its pro-BDS advo­cacy to prod­ucts made in Israeli set­tle­ments and to multi­na­tional com­pa­nies that profit from the occupation.

 But Nar­row Bridge Can­dles sup­ports a boy­cott of prod­ucts made in Israel in gen­eral; no men­tion is made on its web­site of boy­cotting can­dles only made in Israeli set­tle­ments in the West Bank. Indeed, two of the most pop­u­lar candle-making com­pa­nies in Israel are based in Tel Aviv and Safed, cities that are part of Israel’s pre-1967 borders.

Var­i­ous mem­bers of JVP’s lead­er­ship have indi­cated in the past that the group might con­sider shift­ing from tar­geted BDS to an adop­tion of the Pales­tin­ian call for BDS, which advo­cates for a com­plete boy­cott. In a 2011 inter­view, both Rebecca Vilkomer­son, JVP’s Exec­u­tive Direc­tor, and Brant Rosen, a founder of its Rab­bini­cal Coun­cil, indi­cated that the group might even­tu­ally sup­port a full boy­cott. It remains to be seen if JVP-Boston’s endorse­ment of Nar­row Bridge Can­dles is a har­bin­ger of that shift or an aber­ra­tion of JVP’s pol­icy.

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