A Zionist student group has accused the Center for Middle Eastern Studies (CMES) at the University of California, Berkeley, of displaying bias against Israel, raising concerns over its use of federal funding.
AEN in the News
At New York University, student clubs declared a boycott of the school’s Tel Aviv campus.
At the University of Michigan, two professors refused to recommend students seeking to study at Tel Aviv University.
On Thursday, the college council at Pitzer College, a private liberal arts school in California, voted to take away the opportunity for students to study together with Jewish and Arab Israelis at the University of Haifa.
Should faculty have the academic freedom to deny academic freedom to others? That is what eight UC Berkeley faculty are now demanding with their vigorous rejection (Daily Californian, Feb. 19) of a statement issued by the 10 chancellors of the University of California campuses in December. The chancellors’ short and powerful statement reaffirmed their opposition to the academic boycott of Israel. Quite rightly, the chancellors noted that subjecting Israel’s entire system of higher education to punishing boycotts is a “direct and serious” threat to academic freedom — but they wrote nothing more and nothing less.
Miriam F. Elman, associate professor of political science at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University and the inaugural Robert D. McClure Professor of Teaching Excellence, has been appointed the new executive director ef the Academic Engagement Network in Washington, DC. Elman and her husband, Colin Elman, a political science professor in the same department, have been at SU since 2008. They have three children, including one currently at the Syracuse Hebrew Day School and another who is a graduate. Shewill be taking a leave of absence from SU to assume the position.
“Without a culture of free inquiry, universities cease to be universities,” Robert Maynard Hutchins, former University of Chicago president, once said. The university is supposed to be a place of open inquiry and freedom of speech, academic freedom and viewpoint diversity.
From her office on the campus of Syracuse University, Miriam Elman sees academic freedom decreasing from the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement. BDS is about censorship, ideological conformity and the undermining of academic freedom, said Elman.
In her essay, Katherine Franke of Columbia University shows a remarkably selective myopia. She seeks to persuade readers we have reached a significant turning point on public recognition of Israel’s suppression of Palestinian human rights—citing rising divestment efforts on American campuses, the election of a few pro-Palestinian voices to Congress, some actions by celebrities, even the behavior of global companies.
The Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel is a public relations effort to demonize the Jewish state.
In recent months, BDS tactics have intensified and diversified, with Jewish students in the crosshairs. Our community, along with concerned faculty members, must find ways to respond.
After two students were denied letters of recommendation for study abroad programs by University of Michigan faculty members attempting to make a political statement against Israel, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and the Academic Engagement Network (AEN) have developed a model policy to ensure that universities promote clear standards guiding such faculty conduct in the future.
University administrations in the US are being encouraged to adopt explicit guidelines that would prevent academics from refusing to write study-abroad recommendation letters for students based on their political or ideological beliefs.
Michigan State University will host a two-day conference next month that aims to offer a multifaceted exploration of Israel as the country celebrates its 70th Independence Day.