Thursday, December 18, 2014

AMCHA Initiative to UC Chancellors

I am cross-posting the below letter from 22 organizations (listed below) to 9 University of California chancellors regarding the issue of graduate student instructors using the classroom as an anti-Israel bully pulpit.


From: Tammi Benjamin 
Subject: Following up on Provost Dorr's letter regarding UC policies and graduate student instructors
Date: December 18, 2014 at 8:44:22 AM PST

Dear Chancellors Block, Blumenthal, Dirks, Gillman, Katehi, Khosla, Leland, Wilcox and Yang:

We represent 22 organizations with hundreds and thousands of members and supporters nationwide, who are deeply concerned for the safety and well-being of Jewish students at colleges and universities across the country in light of the rising tide of anti-Israel sentiment and the rapid growth of the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement on many campuses.

We are writing to you now about the recent vote of the UAW 2865 in favor of participating in the BDS movement, with 1,411 of the 2,168 voting union members (65%) favoring the resolution. In addition to the union's adoption of BDS, a pledge was taken by 1,136 graduate student instructors to personally adhere to a discriminatory boycott of Israeli universities and scholars.

While we support the right of every member of UAW 2865 to exercise his or her freedom of speech outside of the instructional setting, we are greatly concerned that these union members, who are responsible for instructing hundreds of thousands of undergraduate students, will bring their unscholarly, politically motivated and antisemitic propaganda and advocacy into UC classrooms, where it certainly does not belong.

The BDS movement has become increasingly explicit in expressing its ultimate goal of eliminating Israel. This goal was echoed by members of the UAW 2865 BDS Caucus panel at UC Berkeley last month, when they stated that the purpose of BDS is “isolating Zionism” and “bringing down Israel.”  In embracing a movement that calls for the elimination of the world’s only Jewish state, UAW 2865 members are trafficking in open antisemitism.

Furthermore, the BDS movement calls for a campaign of anti-normalization whose goal is to delegitimize and silence anyone who accepts the legitimacy of the Jewish state. On numerous college campuses, including at the University of California, aggressive anti-normalization campaigns have targeted Jewish and pro-Israel students for harassment, intimidation, bullying, and even physical assault. 

UC policy, particularly the Regents Policy on Course Content, prohibits graduate students from using their instructional positions to promote anti-Israel propaganda and the antisemitic boycott of Israel inside their classrooms.  We are aware that Provost Dorr has sent to each of you a letter enumerating these University policies.

Given the antisemitic and discriminatory nature of the BDS movement, graduate student instructors who choose to use their classroom as a platform for advancing the goals of the BDS movement cannot help but create a hostile and threatening environment for many Jewish and pro-Israel students.  We therefore call on each of you to issue a public statement affirming your commitment to strictly enforcing the Regents Policy on Course Content and to ensuring that Jewish and pro-Israel students are provided with a safe and non-discriminatory learning environment.


Accuracy in Academia
AMCHA Initiative
American Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists
Americans for Peace and Tolerance
Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law
California Association of Scholars
Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA)
CUFI on Campus
David Horowitz Freedom Center
Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET)
Hasbara Fellowships
Institute for Black Solidarity with Israel 
National Conference on Jewish Affairs  
Proclaiming Justice to the Nations   
Scholars for Peace in the Middle East   
Simon Wiesenthal Center 
Students and Parents Against Campus Anti-Semitism
The Lawfare Project
Training and Education About the Middle East (T.E.A.M.)
Verity Educate
Zionist Organization of America

Cc:  UC President Janet Napolitano
UC Provost Aimee Dorr
UC Regents
California Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson
California Senator Carol Liu, Chair of the Senate Standing Committee on Education
California Assembly Member Das Williams, Chair of the Assembly Committee on Higher Education
California Assembly Member Shirley Weber, Chair of the Select Committee on Campus Climate
California State Senator Marty Block, Chair of Legislative Jewish Caucus
California Jewish Community Leaders

I heartily concur, and I think it should extend to full-time faculty as well-on a whole range of political topics.

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