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Boycott Calls Against Israel
BDS Analysis: When Radical Academics Whitewash anti-Semitism Palestinian Students Pay the Price

28.02.19
Editorial Note
 
BDS is in the front row again from various directions. In the U.S., the faculty of Pitzer College voted in November to end the college's study abroad program with the University of Haifa. The College Council which shapes college policy is scheduled to meet on March 14, where members would discuss the issue and vote.   
 
Prof. Ron Robin, President of the University of Haifa and the chairman of the Association of University Heads (VERA), wrote, while visiting Los Angeles on a fundraising trip in December 2018, to express his sorrow: "It is sad for me to see that one academic institution is helping to boycott another, in the wake of the pressure of a movement that waged a violent campaign against the citizens of one country. It is ironic that the Senate of Pitzer College chose to boycott the University of Haifa - a model and example of excellent research and teaching in coexistence, multiculturalism, patience, inclusion and cooperation." Rubin called the boycott "a bizarre decision" and expressed hopes that eventually sanity would prevail. He added that while walking in the Getty Museum, not far from Pitzer College, he "was delighted to come across a presentation about the common denominator of the three monotheistic religions."  In an interview two days ago, he chose not to discuss the Pitzer College boycott and instead emphasized the grey boycott, in which without any explanation, overseas faculty refuse to collaborate with Israeli peers. He would have liked to see Israeli universities making a “moral” case by stressing their diversity and inclusiveness. For example, in his own university, Arab students make up one-third of the student body.  Rubin expressed reservations to the government's measures against the BDS movement, such as promoting anti-BDS legislation and urged: “We need to promote the role of universities in creating an inclusive meritocracy in Israel.”
 
The BDS war in Germany is equally intense. Last month, three events in support of BDS were canceled in an effort to stomp out what is seen as a cover for antisemitism. One of the events was featuring the pro-BDS activist Shir Hever (the son of HUJ Prof. Hannan Hever), who was slated to speak on “Israel’s Right-Wing Friends in Europe and in the US.” The event was hosted by the Jewish Voice for a Just Peace in the Middle East (EJJP), with the Palestinian Community of Germany, and BDS Bonn. In this regard, on March 09, 2019, the German foundation, Dr. Roland Röhl-Stiftung, will be awarding the Göttingen Peace Prize to the EJJP which supports BDS.  The ceremony will be taking place at Göttingen University. The Jury awarded EJJP for their ultimatum demands from Israel: "Israel's complete withdrawal from the occupied territories and the destruction of all Israeli settlements located there; Condemning any violence against civilians in the conflict, no matter which side committed; Israel is recognized within the 1967 borders; Recognizing the right of the Palestinians to found its own state in the Gaza Strip, West Bank and in East Jerusalem; Recognizing the right of both states to have Jerusalem as their capital; Israel is called upon to play its part in resolving the Palestinian refugee problem and is committed to negotiating a fair, and practical solution."
 
Opponents of the BDS movement argue that BDS is anti-Semitic. One such an opinion was recently expressed by Prof. Evan Gerstmann, a political scientist from Bellarmine College of Liberal Arts in Los Angeles. In his "Why An Academic Boycott Of Israel Is Hypocritical," he argued that while some supporters of the boycott are Jewish, it does not mean the movement isn’t anti-Semitic. Seeking to punish Israel while holding fire on many of the world’s worst human rights violators is "inherently anti-Semitic."   
 
Indeed. Prof. Daniel Segal who put forward the Pitzer College boycott resolution, and a key activist for the boycott of Israel at the American Anthropology Association, is Jewish. Segal is also a member of the academic advisory councils of both Jewish Voice for Peace and Open Hillel. Interestingly, supporting the BDS movement bore fruits, Segal was accepted in March 2018 by the Palestinian American Research Center (PARC) to a seminar, as one of a dozen US faculty members who participated in the Faculty Development Seminar on Palestine, held from June 20 to July 3, 2018, in Jerusalem and the West Bank. Activities included "visits to Palestinian universities, research institutes and cultural institution as well as roundtable discussions, tours of historic cities and meetings with Palestinian colleagues." 
 
After wall-to-wall accusations of anti-Semitism against EJJP, radical Israeli academics have written a letter opposing such charges.  They claim that "Supporting Human Rights is not Antisemitic and describe themselves "As Jewish and Israeli scholars.” The implication here that being Jewish gives them the immunity from accusations of anti-Semitism. In fact, The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism does not identify the origin of the anti-Semitic perpetrator. 
 
In Britain, a group of radical Israeli academic sent a letter in September 2018, to the Jewish Voice for Labor. The letter claimed that since the election of Jeremy Corbyn to head the Labor Party he has been "subjected to sustained attacks for his supposed friendliness to antisemitism. We reject the substance of these accusations completely." The group expressed their support to fighting anti-Semitism: "it is absolutely necessary to repudiate antisemitism while also standing up for Palestinian rights and for socialism.”  At the same time they accused Israel of   trying to "stifle debate" about its "systematic oppression" of the Palestinian people and the "catastrophic impacts" of the military occupation. They chastised the Israeli government for labeling supporters of Palestinian human rights as "enemies of the state, traitors, and, increasingly antisemitic."  For them, the IHRA definition of antisemitism is a "highly-politicized and flawed... This document can be dangerously instrumentalized to afford the Israeli State immunity against criticism for grave and widespread violations of human rights and international law."  However, contrary to the group's assertion, the IHRA definition of Antisemitism states clearly that "criticism of Israel similar to that leveled against any other country cannot be regarded as antisemitic."  
 
The group ended the letter stating: "We stand for human rights."  While any group vouching for Palestinian human rights should be lauded, their support for human rights is misleading. They do not criticize the Palestinian factions Fatah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah and others, known for grave breaches of human rights on a daily basis.  The United Nations and human rights group singled out Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad for, among other things, using civilians as human shield and locating military outpost in public spaces such as hospitals, schools, and mosques.   BDS supporters have never mentioned such violations, making their critique of Israel alone a clear case of double standard. 
 
As Gerstmann stated: "it is admirable that many Jews want to hold the Jewish state to a higher standard than other countries.” But they need to be equally critical of Palestinian violation.  Ironically, by proposing to boycott the University of Haifa, which has a large Palestinian student body, they would be hurting these students as well.









Pitzer Student Gov’t Vetoes Bill Condemning Faculty Banning Israel Study Abroad

BY ALEC SWEET · PUBLISHED FEBRUARY 17, 2019 · UPDATED FEBRUARY 18, 2019

On Feb. 3, Pitzer College’s Student Senate voted down a resolution condemning a faculty decision to vote in favor of suspending Pitzer’s only study abroad program in Israel with the University of Haifa. Members of the Pitzer Student Senate introduced Resolution 55-R-04 last semester after the vote by Pitzer faculty favoring suspending the college’s study abroad program with the University of Haifa. The resolution—which also aims to “[encourage] faculty to more thoroughly collaborate with students before pursuing steps that directly impact students”—ended up failing with a vote of two in favor to 16 against, with many student senators abstaining. 

The resolution—which was tabled multiple times last semester—asked that “the Pitzer College Student Senate denounces the Faculty’s desire to suspend the study abroad program at the University of Haifa without consultation from the Student Body at large and the Faculty’s decision to act unilaterally without regard to Student Voice, which is an abuse of power and undermines Pitzer’s tradition of shared governance.”

The Senate discussed the resolution, with some senators expressing some concerns about the shared governance structure but also upset that the issue was tied into the specific Haifa study abroad decision. Other senators expressed support for the faculty’s decision, with one senator urging “my fellow senators not to pass the resolution because I think it unnecessarily condemns faculty who are really trying to support us and the decision we made last spring and our power over making our own decisions,” referencing when Pitzer’s Board of Trustees blocked the Student Senate from passing pro-BDS (Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions) amendments to the budget. 

Another senator stated he “appreciate[s] the faculty moving the BDS movement forward unapologetically and as a student of Africana studies that we should work towards Palestinian liberation unapologetically.”

Pitzer College president Melvin L. Oliver previously stated that suspending the study abroad program in Israel would “foolishly alienate Jewish and non-Jewish constituents.”

Other senators noted their support for Palestinian liberation and expressed their desire that the Pitzer Senate not only refuse to condemn the Faculty but rather support them:

“I am speaking in support of suspending the Haifa program, what it means for human rights/standing in support for Palestinian people and see overall what it means in this situation. As American college students we need to speak up for what is happening,” a senator expressed. 

“We have a real platform here, I urge you all to vote no and prioritize the Palestinian people… If you want to make a statement on shared governance, it needs to be separated with the Haifa program,” another student senator added. 

It was further noted, referencing the testimony at the last Pitzer College Council meeting, that some faculty expressed surprise that there was controversy over its decision from a standpoint of shared governance. One of the leading faculty members pushing the abolishment of the Haifa program asserted his belief that students had been involved at many points in the process.

The Claremont Students for Justice in Palestine (Claremont SJP) received news of the faculty vote “with great joy.” Claremont SJP called the study abroad program at Haifa “greatly problematic” and further stated “it is imperative that the colleges withdraw this program from their study abroad curriculums.” (emphasis original)

The next College Council is scheduled for March 14, where it is expected that the issue of the suspension of the University of Haifa program will be discussed in length, and a decision voted on by its members. Decisions by the College Council usually shape college policy.




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פרופ' רון רובין - Prof. Ron Robin
2 December 2018 · 
עצוב בעיני שמוסד אקדמי אחד נותן יד לחרם על רעהו בעקבות לחץ של תנועה המנהלת קמפיין אלים נגד אזרחי מדינה כלשהי.
כמה אירוני שסנאט Pitzer College בחר להחרים דווקא את אוניברסיטת חיפה - מופת ודוגמא למחקר והוראה מצוינים המתקיימים בדו-קיום, רב תרבותיות, סבלנות, הכלה ושיתוף פעולה.
אנו מחזקים את ידו של פרופ' מלווין אוליבר, נשיא פיצר קולג', שמנסה לשנות את ההחלטה התמוהה ונלחם למען ביטולה. 
אני נמצא עכשיו במסע גיוס כספים בלוס אנג'לס ושמחתי להתקל במיצג העוסק במכנה המשותף של שלוש הדתות המונותאיסטיות ב Getty Museum, לא רחוק מפיצר קולג'.
אני נכנס להסתובב כאן קצת ועל הדרך לקוות שהשפיות תנצח. 
שיהיה לכולנו שבוע טוב.

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Israel universities’ head criticises government’s anti-boycott strategy
February 27, 2019 at 1:07 pm

The chair of Israel’s association of university heads has criticised the government for what he has described as its mishandling of the battle against the Palestinian-led boycott movement.

As reported by the Associated Press, Ron Robin, president of the University of Haifa, acknowledged in remarks yesterday that Israeli universities have felt pressure from the boycott movement.

This pressure “usually” comes “through what he called a ‘grey’ boycott in which overseas colleagues refuse to collaborate on projects without offering explanations”, the report stated.

Robin added that the Israeli government “has confronted the boycott movement largely by promoting anti-boycott legislation overseas”.

The university head, however, said “he thinks Israeli universities are better off making a ‘moral’ case by stressing their diversity and inclusiveness”, including by pointing to the number of Palestinian citizens who attend institutions like Haifa.

The Palestinian boycott call – or the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement – urges an institutional boycott of Israeli universities on the basis of the latter’s complicity in military occupation, war crimes and other human rights abuses.


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Israel university head questions government boycott strategy
February 26, 2019

JERUSALEM (AP) — The chairman of Israel’s association of university heads says he thinks the government is mishandling its battle against the Palestinian-led boycott movement against Israel.

Ron Robin, president of the University of Haifa, said Tuesday that Israeli universities have felt pressure from the boycott movement, usually through what he called a “grey” boycott in which overseas colleagues refuse to collaborate on projects without offering explanations.

Robin says the government has confronted the boycott movement largely by promoting anti-boycott legislation overseas.

He says he thinks Israeli universities are better off making a “moral” case by stressing their diversity and inclusiveness. He says Arab students, for example, make up one-third of Haifa’s student body.

“We need to promote the role of universities in creating an inclusive meritocracy in Israel,” he said.


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Feb 21, 2019, 04:53pm

Why An Academic Boycott Of Israel Is Hypocritical
Evan Gerstmann, Contributor. I am a professor and publish on constitutional and educational issues.
As has been widely reported, anti-Semitic hate crimes have increased sharply in this country. Our nation’s universities should be doing their part to fight anti-Semitism, but too many are doing just the opposite by adopting academic boycotts that single out Israel while leaving in place academic programs that send students to countries that are major human rights violators. What are students to take from this, other than the message that the world’s only Jewish nation is the worst of the worst?
A good example of the problems with academic boycotts is what is happening at California’s Pitzer College. Last November the faculty there voted to suspend its study abroad program in Haifa, Israel. Final action on this has not yet been taken and, in anticipation of an upcoming meeting on the issue, a prominent faculty member recently published an editorial defending the decision. The editorial claims that the move is in keeping with other decisions the college has made and gives the example of boycotting military recruiters in 1990.But the military boycott was over the military’s exclusion of gays and lesbians—a poor analogy to
Israel, which has, by far, the most liberal policies on same-sex equality in the Middle East. If we are looking for moral consistency, the obvious comparison to Pitzer’s program in Israel would be its study abroad program in China. It is certainly true that Israel occupies the West Bank. It is equally true that China occupies Tibet and brutally so. The Dalai Lama has said that the Chinese occupation of Tibet has produced a “Hell on Earth.” Millions of Tibetans have been forcibly displaced and many have been killed. Pitzer maintains its study abroad program in China, but amazingly this is not mentioned once in the editorial defending the suspension of the study abroad program in Israel. When specifically challenged on this in the comments section, the author of the editorial responds that “our China program should indeed be reviewed . . .”
The Pitzer professor's editorial says the choice of singling out Israel is based on two principles. The first is “act when one’s actions can have real impact.” Would an academic boycott of China really have no impact? China sends, by far, the largest number of students to American universities of any nation in the world and was among the top destinations for American study abroad students. An academic boycott of that country would have a strong impact. So why single out Israel while maintaining a program in China?
The editorial states that the second principle is “in contemplating action in response to injustice, listen to the victims, to those who are suffering, to learn what help they seek from allies.” Perhaps we should listen more closely to the people of Tibet. If colleges believe that academic boycotts are effective, do they really have any reason to believe that the people of Tibet would not welcome the same assistance? The people of Tibet have called for a boycott in other contexts to protest the Chinese occupation—it’s silly to think that they wouldn’t welcome an academic boycott.
That is why the academic boycott of Israel is hypocritical. But is it anti-Semitic? That is a serious charge and should be made with care and a few caveats. First of all, not everyone (or even most people) associated with an anti-Semitic movement is an anti-Semitic person. Second, for a movement to be anti-Semitic, it does not mean that anti-Semitism is the movement’s sole motivating factor. There is little doubt that many people associated with the boycott movement are genuinely concerned with the fate of the Palestinian people.
Finally, the fact that some supporters of the boycott are Jewish themselves (as is the author of the editorial) does not mean the movement isn’t anti-Semitic. If anything, it is admirable that many Jews want to hold the Jewish state to a higher standard than other countries. But for others to seek to punish Israel while holding their fire on many of the world’s worst human rights violators is inherently anti-Semitic.Israel is the only Jewish nation in the world and Pitzer faculty has voted to boycott it while maintaining its study abroad programs not just in China but other nations with poor human rights records such as Rwanda. The Pitzer professor's editorial speaks with pride about its boycott of the U.S. military for its exclusion of gay service members but does not mention Pitzer's study abroad program in Botswana, which criminalizes homosexuality. A boycott of Israel while maintaining these programs is a clear statement that Israel is the worst of the worst, despite the fact that this is obviously not true. That is anti-Semitic in effect if not in intent.
The government of Israel, like the governments of most nations, is hardly a group of saints. There is nothing wrong with criticizing Israel. But when doing so, universities and academic scholars should follow a few basic guidelines:
First, universities should have a process that is fair and transparent. Rather than suspending ties with Israel and taking an “it will happen when it happens” approach to reviewing other study-abroad programs, universities should create a process to set clear standards for how and when they determine academic boycotts.
Further, universities should aim to promote mutual understanding. It’s right to shine a light on the hardships caused by the occupation of the West Bank. But when doing so, if an article or class does not discuss the fact that, for example, the Palestinian Authority acknowledges that it provides cash payments to families of terrorists who kill or try to kill Israelis, then how can readers or students understand why Israel is reluctant to turn power over to that very same Palestinian Authority?
Finally, universities should recognize that their strength comes not from some sort of moral superiority but from their expertise in methodologies that separate fact from fiction. In an ideal world, universities should be the place one can go to hear clear explanations for why two peoples both believe that they have the most valid historic claims to the disputed land or why both parties believe the other is the primary aggressor. Universities should be helping students understand the complexity of the situation, not serving up simplified morality tales.More transparency, greater accuracy and a good-faith attempt to help everybody understand different points of view would go a long way here.
Evan Gerstmann is the author of Campus Sexual Assault: Constitutional Rights and Fundamental Fairness (Cambridge University 2019) and is a Professor of Political Science at Loyola Marymount Univ.

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Faculty Vote to End Israel Study Abroad
Pitzer professors seek to suspend the college's program at University of Haifa as study abroad becomes target for supporters of Israel boycott.

By Elizabeth Redden  
November 28, 2018

Faculty at Pitzer College voted earlier this month to suspend the college’s study abroad program in Israel.

Pitzer faculty say the question will next go to the College Council for a vote.

Study abroad programs have increasingly become a target of the movement to boycott Israeli academic institutions. The Pitzer vote follows two widely reported instances in which a professor and graduate instructor at the University of Michigan cited their support for the academic boycott in declining to write letters of recommendation for students seeking to study abroad at Israeli universities.

Advocates for ending study abroad programs in Israel argue that academic boycotts are a nonviolent mechanism for resisting Israeli policies that infringe on the freedoms of Palestinians, including academic freedoms, and that American universities shouldn’t be complicit in Israeli visa and border control policies that could prevent all of their students from participating in study abroad programs there.

Opponents of the academic boycott argue that Israel is being unfairly singled out for special scrutiny and that restricting Israel study abroad programs limits students’ learning opportunities and violates their academic freedom.

A Pitzer Student Senate resolution introduced at the organization’s Nov. 11 meeting describes the faculty vote to suspend the college’s study abroad program at the University of Haifa as “an advancement of a political agenda at the expense of students who seek opportunities in Middle East/North African Studies, Arabic, Hebrew, Christianity, Judaism, Islam and the intercultural relations of Israeli and Palestinian ethnicities.”

The resolution says that "only the University of Haifa study abroad program was called into question without the same standards of review being applied to any other study abroad program" and it “denounces the faculty’s desire to suspend the study abroad program at the University of Haifa and the Faculty’s decision to act unilaterally without regard to student voice.” Student Senate representatives did not respond to inquiries about the status of the resolution, but the status on the Senate website is variously listed as "proposed"/"pending approval."

A Pitzer spokeswoman confirmed that the Israel study abroad program is not currently suspended, and said the college administration is declining to comment while the issue is considered through Pitzer's governance channels.

“The college community of students, faculty and staff are deliberating the issue through Pitzer’s shared governance process,” the spokeswoman, Anna Chang, said via email. “The college do not plan to release any formal statements until the process is completed.”

Daniel Segal, the professor who put forward the resolution, said it is his understanding that it will be debated at a Thursday meeting of the College Council and voted on by faculty and voting student delegates at a subsequent meeting in January. He said he cannot say for sure whether the Pitzer administration or board can legally overrule the council but that his expectation is that its vote will be binding. "I do not think there has been a single time when College Council has made a curricular decision that is clearly within their purview that has not then become policy," he said.

The resolution, which Segal said was approved by "at least" a four-to-one ratio in a collegewide faculty meeting earlier this month, calls for suspending the college's exchange program at the University of Haifa "until (a) the Israeli state ends its restrictions on entry to Israel based on ancestry and/or political speech and (b) the Israeli state adopts policies granting visas for exchanges to Palestinian universities on a fully equal basis as it does to Israeli universities."

Part of what is at issue here -- per clause (a) of the resolution -- is a 2017 law barring entry to Israel for foreign supporters of boycotts. An American student with a visa to pursue a master’s degree at Hebrew University of Jerusalem was denied entry to Israel under the law earlier this fall on the basis of her past presidency of a Students for Justice for Palestine chapter at the University of Florida. The student, Lara Alqasem, appealed to the Israeli Supreme Court, which ruled that her “actions do not raise satisfactory cause to bar her entry to Israel” and permitted her to enter after she spent more than two weeks in an airport detention center.

Also at issue is the reported differential treatment of individuals of Muslim, Arab or Middle Eastern origin by Israeli border control authorities and -- per clause (b) of the resolution -- what scholarly groups have reported to be an increase in visa denials for foreign faculty seeking to teach at Palestinian universities in the West Bank and Gaza, which Israel controls entry to. The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel issued a statement from Samia Botmeh, a dean of Birzeit University, in the West Bank, in which she praised the Pitzer faculty vote and said that foreign faculty are being forced out of the West Bank and would-be international students denied entry.

“We shouldn’t be listing as an approved program, meaning we endorse it, a program which in practice will discriminate against some of our students on the basis of ancestry and/or legitimate political speech,” said Segal, the author of the resolution and the Jean M. Pitzer Professor of Anthropology and Professor of History. “We should on the other hand be good allies for colleagues who are suffering from grave violations of their academic freedom and who have asked us for their support. It’s the right thing to do to oppose discrimination against some of our students and it’s the right thing to do to support academic freedom of those whose academic freedom is being violated."

Faculty also approved another resolution at their meeting -- also put forward by Segal -- objecting to a move by the college's Board of Trustees to nullify a resolution to divest from certain companies associated with Israel approved by the Student Senate in April 2017. “Independent of agreeing or disagreeing with that resolution, we the Faculty object to the president and trustees singling out this one issue as a basis for not accepting the Senate’s longstanding autonomy in controlling its funds, in the context of Pitzer’s governance system,” the second resolution stated.

Controversy over the trustees' actions in that instance led to the creation of a working group on Israel-Palestine comprised of students, faculty and trustees. The working group produced a report that was fairly neutral on the question of study abroad, concluding that "too little is known about the precise ways in which the Israeli travel ban [on boycott supporters] would potentially affect staff, students or faculty wishing to participate in our institutional relationship with the University of Haifa" and that "the working group sees the educational benefit of facilitating experiential learning around Israel-Palestine issues and does not wish to create a barrier to study in the region."

The working group’s chairperson, Claudia Strauss, said in an interview Tuesday that she voted in favor of the resolution to suspend the Haifa study abroad program. “I actually went through a change in my own thinking about it after we issued the report,” said Strauss, a professor of anthropology. “In general, I’m not in favor of academic boycotts or limiting study opportunities. My initial thinking about this was I’d like our students to have an opportunity to go over and see things for themselves. But Lara’s case changed my mind about that. I don’t want our students to possibly be detained for their political views.”

Another Pitzer professor, Albert Wachtel, argued that the opposite lesson should be taken from Alqasem’s case. “This student was admitted and is studying in Jerusalem,” said Wachtel, a professor of creative studies. “If she’s an indication of anything, she’s an indication that democracy works in Israel and that its courts balance things out and undertake to negate political decisions which it regards as unacceptable. That’s big. That’s very desirable.”

Segal countered that the Supreme Court decision didn't overturn the law restricting entry to foreign advocates of boycotts; rather the court concluded that Alqasem herself did not meet the bar for refusing entry. “Clearly, we have a problem at the college if we have a program that we list as approved and student A chooses it and can go and student B chooses it and student B has been a prominent member of Claremont Students for Justice in Palestine and cannot go into the program. Then we are approving a program that discriminates on the basis of perfectly legitimate political speech,” Segal said.

The vote by Pitzer faculty was condemned Tuesday by the AMCHA Initiative, an organization that tracks what it views as anti-Israel actions on campuses and opposes the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel.

“The Pitzer faculty’s attempt to implement academic BDS on campus and subvert the educational opportunities and academic freedom of their own U.S. colleagues and students is absolutely reprehensible,” the group’s executive director, Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, said in a written statement. “These Pitzer faculty members have abrogated their most basic professional responsibility -- to promote the academic welfare of their students.”

AMCHA called on Pitzer president Melvin L. Oliver to “immediately condemn this action and publicly commit to ensuring that no Pitzer student will be impeded from studying about or in Israel and that faculty will not be permitted to implement an academic boycott of Israel at Pitzer.”
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https://www.juedische-stimme.de/2019/01/17/open-letter-supporting-human-rights-is-not-antisemitic/

 

“EUROPEAN JEWS FOR A JUST PEACE”

 

Open Letter: Supporting Human Rights is not Antisemitic

17. Januar 2019

 

More than 90 renowned Jewish scholars and intellectuals – including Noam Chomsky, Eva Illouz, Alfred Grosser, Moshe Zimmermann, Judith Butler and Micha Brumlik – have signed an open letter condemning the attacks against our association, Jewish Voice for Just Peace in the Middle East, and calling on German civil society to guarantee freedom of expression for those who oppose the oppression of the Palestinian people.  

 

Supporting Human Rights is not Antisemitic

In recent years the Israeli government and its supporters have tried to stifle debate both abroad and domestically about its systematic oppression of the Palestinian people and the catastrophic impacts of the 51-year-old military occupation. Civil society organizations in Israel and around the world supporting Palestinian human rights are cynically labeled by Israeli government officials as enemies of the state, traitors, and, increasingly, as antisemitic. Spaces for critical engagement are shrinking.

These worrisome developments have not bypassed Germany. We fully support the efforts of German politicians and civil society organizations to combat all contemporary forms of antisemitism – a much-needed endeavour in view of the rise of nationalist parties and movements just 73 years after the defeat of the Nazi state. Yet, under the pretense of protecting Jewish life, attacks against organizations and individuals who show solidarity with the Palestinian fight for equality and liberation have become commonplace. Free speech on Palestinian human rights is infringed through demands to prevent discussions in public spaces, public smear campaigns, and most recently, legislation.

The attacks against the Germany-based group „Jewish Voice for Just Peace in the Middle East“ (Jewish Voice) are emblematic of this global process and have drawn us together out of concern. The group, that counts among its members also recent Israeli migrants to Germany, has unequivocally raised its voice in support of peace and justice in Israel and Palestine and has consistently condemned manifestations of racism and antisemitism, including cases where they are disguised as critique of Israel. Nonetheless, as a result of a smear campaign by right-wing journalists and organizations, the Bank für Sozialwirtschaft closed the account of the group in 2016, a decision the bank overturned shortly after.

The pressure on a German bank to force the closure of an account of a Jewish organization — for the first time since the Federal Republic replaced the National Socialist regime — has continued unabated ever since. The management of the bank has recently decided, in compliance with the government commissioner for anti-Semitism, Dr. Felix Klein, to seek an advisory opinion in order to decide whether Jewish Voice should be “classified as antisemitic“. The German historian, Dr. Juliane Wetzel, took on the task to produce such a report, in accordance with the highly-politicized and flawed IHRA Definition of Antisemitism. This document can be dangerously instrumentalized to afford the Israeli State immunity against criticism for grave and widespread violations of human rights and international law, criticism which is considered legitimate and needed when directed at other countries.

This move is alarming: representatives from the German state, finance sector and academia have come together to make a judgement about whether or not a group of Jews and Israelis, many of them descendants of Holocaust survivors, are antisemitic. For good reasons, members of Jewish Voice refuse to collaborate with such a ridiculous and offensive undertaking.

As Jewish and Israeli scholars and intellectuals, dedicated to the fight against Antisemitism and all forms of racism, we condemn the ongoing campaign to silence the Jewish Voice and its members, regardless of whether we agree with all of their positions or not.

We call upon the members of German civil society to fight antisemitism relentlessly while maintaining a clear distinction between criticism of the state of Israel, harsh as it may be, and antisemitism, and to preserve free speech for those who reject Israeli repression against the Palestinian people and insist that it comes to an end.

We stand for human rights.

We stand in solidarity with the Jewish Voice.

Prof. Gadi Algazy, Historian, Tel Aviv University

Dr. Meir Amor, Associate Professor, Department of sociology and Anthropology, Concordia University, Montreal, Canada

Prof. Gil Anidjar, Department of Religion, Department of Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies, Columbia University, New York

Avigail Arnheim, Director of The Felicia Blumenthal Music Center Association and International Music Festival Tell Aviv

Dr. Yuval Ayalon, Department of History, Philosophy and Judaic Studies, The Open University of Israel

Dr. Tamar Amar-Dahl, Historian, Berlin

Prof. Outi Bat-El, Department of Linguistics, Tel-Aviv University

Dr. Shaul Bar-Haim, Sociology Department, University of Essex

Dr. Moshe Behar, Arabic & Middle Eastern Studies, School of Arts, Languages & Cultures

The University of Manchester

Prof. Zvi Ben-Dor, Department of History, NYU

Smadar Ben-Natan, adv., PhD Candidate Tel-Aviv University, Visiting Scholar, UC Berkeley

Dr. Ayelet Ben-Yishai, Chair, Department of English, University of Haifa

Prof. Dr. Gabriele Bergers, Department of Oncology, University of Leuven

Prof. Jerome Bourdon, Department of Communication, Tel Aviv University

Prof. Daniel Boyarin, Taubman Professor of Talmudic Culture, UC Berkeley

Prof. Judith Butler, Comperative Literature and Program for Clinical theory, UC Berkeley

Assistant Prof. Samuel Hayim Brody, Religious Studies, University of Kansas

Prof. emeritus José Brunner, Cohn Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Ideas, The Buchmann Faculty of Law, Tel Aviv University

Prof. emeritus Dr. Micha Brumlik, Fritz Bauer Institut, FfM

Prof. Rabbi Aryeh Cohen, American Jewish University

Prof. emeritus Noam Chomsky, MIT, Laureate Professor, University of Arizona

Prof. Yossi Dahan,  Law Prof. and head of the human rights program, College of Law & Business, Ramat Gan, Israel

Prof. emerita Sidra DeKoven Ezrahi, Comparative Literature, Hebrew University, Jerusalem

Prof. David Enoch, Department of Philosophy and Law, Hebrew University, Jerusalem

Prof. emeritus. Emmanuel Farjoun, Hebrew Universitiy, Jerusaelm

Prof. emeritus Gideon Freudenthal, Cohn Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Ideas, Tel Aviv University

Prof. Alon Friedman, MD, PhD, Denis Chair in Epilepsy Research, Department of Neuroscience and Paediatrics, Faculty of Medicine, Dalhousie University, Halifax, NS

Dr. Yoav Galai, Lecturer in Global Political Communication, Department of Politics and International Relations, Royal Holloway, University of London

Prof. Katharina Galor, Jewish Studies, Brown University, USA

Dr. Amira Gelblum, Historian, Open University, Israel

Prof. Rachel Giora, Department of Linguistics, Tel-Aviv University

Prof. Amos Goldberg, Former Chair of the Jewish History and Contemporary Jewry Department, Hebrew University, Jerusalem

Prof. Dr. Alfred Grosser, Paris

Associate Prof. Ran Greenstein, Sociology Department, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa

Prof. Heidi Grunebaum, Centre for Humanities Research, University of the Western Cape, South Africa

Dr. Ilana Hammerman, Writer and Editor, Jerusalem

Prof. Susannah Heschel, Eli Black Professor of Jewish Studies, Dartmouth College Hanover, USA

Prof. Hanan Hever, Department of Comparative Literature and Jewish Studies, Yale University

Prof. Eva Illouz, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Hebrew University, Jerusalem

Dr. Anne Karpf, Reader at London Metropolitan University

Prof. Hannah Kasher, Department of Jewish Thought, Bar-Ilan University

Prof. emeritus Michael Keren, Department of Economics, Hebrew University, Jerusalem

Prof. Brian Klug, Faculty of Philosophy, University of Oxford

Prof. Francesca Klug, Visiting Professor at LSE Human Rights

Dr. Hagar Kotef, SOAS, University of London

Prof. Chana Kronfeld, Hebrew and Comparative Literature, University of California, Berkeley

Kuper Richard, European Politics, University of Hertfordshire (retired)

Nitzan Lebovic, Associate Professor of History, Apter Chair of Holocaust Studies and Ethical Values, Lehigh University, PA, USA

Prof. Gerardo Leibner, Historian, Tel Aviv University

Dr. Andre Levy, Sociology and Anthropology, Ben Gurion University

Dr. Gal Levy, Democracy Studies, Open University, Israel

Dr. Rachel Livne-Freudenthal, Leo Baeck Institut, Jerusalem

Prof. emeritus Moshé Machover, Professor of Philosophy, University of London

Ruchama Marton, MD, Founder and Honorary President of Physicians for Human Rights – Israel

Dr. Anat Matar, The Dept. of Philosophy, Tel Aviv University

Rela Mazali, Author, Independent Scholar, Activist.

Dr. Gilad Melzer, Culture Studies, Beit Berl College

Prof. emeritus Everett Mendelsohn, History of Science, Harvard University

Prof. emeritus Paul Mendes-Flohr, Jewish Studies, Hebrew University, Jerusalem

Prof. Isaac (Yanni) Nevo, Department of Philosophy, Ben Gurion University

Dr. Amos Noy, Culture Studies, Jerusalem

Orly Noy, Writer, Journalist and Translator, Jerusalem

Atalia Omer, Associate Professor of Religion, Conflict and Peace Studies at the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame.

Prof. Adi Ophir, Tel Aviv University

Maayan Padan, Gender Program, Ben-Gurion University

Prof. emerita Benita Parry, English and comparative literature University of Warwick, UK

Prof. Steven Robins, Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology, Stellenbosch University, South Africa

Prof. Jacqueline Rose, Humanities and Co-Director, Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities, Birkbeck University of London

Prof. Jonathan Rosenhead, Department of Management, London School of Economics

Prof. Ishay Rosen-Zvi, Department of Jewish Philosophie and Talmud, Tel Aviv University

Prof. Michael Rothberg, English, Comparative Literature, and Holocaust Studies, UCLA

Dr. Sara Roy, Center for Middle Eastern Studies, Harvard University

Prof. emeritus Donald Sassoon, Comparative European History, School of History Queen Mary, University of London

Dr. Kobi Snitz, Department of Neurobiology, Weizmann Institut, Rehovot

Professor Lynne Segal, Birkbeck College, The University of London

Dr. Itamar Shachar, Marie Curie Post-doctoral Fellow, Department of Anthropology, University of Amsterdam

Professor Avi Shlaim, St. Anthony College, The University of Oxford

Dr. Marcos Silber, Chairman Department of Jewish History, University of Haifa

Prof. Michael Steinberg, Department of History, Brown University

Lior Sternfeld, Assistant Professor of History and Jewish Studies, Penn State University

Prof. Adam Sutcliffe, European History, Department of History, King’s College London

Ilana Sumka, Founder, The Center for Jewish Nonviolence

Associate Professor Moshik Temkin, History and Public Policy, Harvard

Dr. Anya Topolski, Associate Professor Ethics and Political Philosophy, Radboud Universiteit, Nijmegen

Dr. Nadia Valman, English Department, Queen Mary, University of London

Prof. Dr. Roy Wagner, Department of Humanities, Social and Political Sciences, ETH Zürich

Dr. Elian Weizman, lecturer in Middle East politics, Department of Politics and International Studies, SOAS, University of London

Rebecca Vilkomerson, Jewish Voice for Peace, USA

Dr. Yair Wallach, Israeli Studies, SOAS, University of London

Dr. Noga Wolff, Political Sciences, College for Academic Studies, Or Yehuda, Israel

Prof. Haim Yacobi, Development Planing Unit, University College London

Prof. emeritus Moshe Zimmermann, Koebner Minerva Center for German History, Hebrew University, Jerusalem

Prof. emeritus Moshe Zuckermann, Tel Aviv University

Institutional affiliation provided for identification purposes only 

 

 

===============================================================



Göttinger Friedenspreis
Stiftung Dr. Roland Röhl
Stiftung Dr. Roland Röhl - Neues Rathaus - 37070 Göttingen

Göttinger Friedenspreis 2019, Entscheidung und Begründung der Jury
Die Jury hat entschieden, den Göttinger Friedenspreis 2019 an die Organisation
"Jüdische Stimme für gerechten Frieden in Nahost e.V."
zu verleihen …
… für ihr unermüdliches Engagement, eine gerechte Friedenslösung zwischen zwei souveränen Nachbarstaaten, zwischen Israelis und PalästinenserInnen, anstreben und erreichen zu können. In Zeiten, in denen für
immer weniger Menschen eine solche Friedenslösung überhaupt vorstellbar ist, dominieren die Fakten, die
durch die seit über 40 Jahren andauernde völkerrechtswidrige Besatzung und zunehmende Besiedelung palästinensischer Gebiete geschaffen wurden. Menschen und Initiativen jedoch, die sich für eine gerechte Friedenslösung einsetzen, werden in Deutschland zunehmend als antisemitisch bzw. antiisraelisch diffamiert,
ihre öffentlichen Auftritte werden verboten und ihr Grundrecht auf Meinungsfreiheit wird verletzt. So wurde
die „Jüdische Stimme“ selbst von der Kontoschließung ihrer Bank getroffen, aber aufgrund ihres überzeugenden Engagements und den solidarischen Protest unzähliger demokratisch gesinnter BankkundInnen, konnte
die Wiedereröffnung ihres Kontos erreicht werden.
Unter der Maßgabe des seit 1947 völkerrechtlich verbriefen Rechts der PalästinenserInnen auf Selbstbestimmung, setzt sich die "Jüdische Stimme für gerechten Frieden in Nahost" für eine ausgleichende Friedenslösung ein, die auch eine Vorbedingung ist für die gesicherte und unbedrohte Existenz Israels.
Die "Jüdische Stimme für gerechten Frieden in Nahost" möchte darauf hinwirken, dass die Bundesregierung
ihr außenpolitisches und ökonomisches Gewicht in der Europäischen Union, in den Vereinten Nationen sowie
in Nahost nachdrücklich und unmissverständlich dafür einsetzt, einen lebensfähigen, souveränen Staat Palästina auf integriertem Hoheitsgebiet und innerhalb sicherer Grenzen zu schaffen und sich damit aktiv an
der Verwirklichung eines dauerhaften und für beide Nationen lebensfähigen Friedens zu beteiligen.
Die "Jüdische Stimme für gerechten Frieden in Nahost" wurde im November 2003 von in Deutschland lebenden Juden und Jüdinnen als deutsche Sektion des ein Jahr zuvor in Amsterdam gegründeten Verbands European Jews for a Just Peace (EJJP), ins Leben gerufen. Dieser Verband, 2002 von 18 jüdischen Organisationen
aus 9 europäischen Ländern gegründet, hat seinen Sitz heute in London. Außer in Deutschland hat die EJJP
Sektionen in Belgien, Dänemark, Frankreich, Italien, Niederlande, Österreich, Schweden, Schweiz und Großbritannien.
Die Forderungen der „Amsterdamer Gründungserklärung“ der EJJP von 2002 sind Bestandteil des Selbstverständnisses der Jüdischen Stimme ebenso wie aller anderen EJJP-Sektionen:
 Vollständiger Abzug Israels aus den besetzten Gebieten und der Abbau aller dort befindlichen israelischen Siedlungen.
 Jede Gewalt gegen ZivilistInnen in dem Konflikt, egal von welcher Seite an wem begangen, wird verurteilt.
 Israel wird in den Grenzen von 1967 anerkannt.
 Das Recht der Palästinenser, im Gazastreifen, im Westjordanland und in Ost-Jerusalem einen eigenen Staat zu gründen, wird anerkannt.
 Das Recht beider Staaten, Jerusalem als ihre Hauptstadt zu haben, wird anerkannt.
 Israel wird dazu aufgerufen, seinen Teil an der Lösung des palästinensischen Flüchtlingsproblems beizutragen, und verpflichtet, eine gerechte, faire und praktische Lösung auszuhandeln.
Die Preisverleihung erfolgt am 9. März 2019 im Rahmen einer öffentlichen Feier
in der Aula der Georg-August-Universität in Göttingen.

====================================================

Declaration of EJJP (European Jews for a Just Peace)

Friday 16 December 2016 by EJJP

In Germany, the account of the group “Jewish Voice for a Just Peace in the Middle East” (Jüdische Stimme für gerechten Frieden in Nahost”) has been closed by the “Bank for Social Economy” (Bank fuer Sozialwirtschaft AG).

The Israeli government attempts to forbid any criticism of its policy, both inside in Israel and abroad. It pretends that all the people criticizing Israel are anti-Semitic.

Certain organizations, such as the Bank for Social Economy, have voluntarily chosen to serve the Israeli repressive political agenda, and attempt to silence critical voices.
The fact that organizations such as the Bank of Social Economy censor criticism of the State of Israel in the name of rejecting anti-Semitism is a direct insult to us Jews. The State of Israel does not represent us. We demand that any moral individual or organization will not allow their justified outrage against anti-Semitism to be turned into a foreign policy tool by the Israeli government.

The right to call for boycott as a form of political pressure, as part of the global BDS movement founded by Palestinians to promote the implementation of international law, is protected by the freedom of expression, by European law and specifically by German law. The Bank for Social Economy, however, makes its own law.
Because we are Jewish, we cannot ignore the crimes committed by the State of Israel in our name: occupation, colonization, apartheid, destruction of Palestinian society and war crimes. We refuse to take responsibility for those crimes just because we are Jews. We also refuse to be punished for exercising our right to criticize those crimes.

Because we are Jewish, we support what the Palestinian people claim for freedom (end of occupation and colonization, destruction of the Wall of separation, end of the blockade of Gaza, freedom for all Palestinian prisoners), equality of rights between Israelis and Palestinians and justice (the right of return for Palestinian refugees). These are the three demands of the BDS movement.


===========================================================



Pitzer Professor Daniel A. Segal Selected for Palestinian American Research Center Seminar

Claremont, Calif. (March 28, 2018)—Pitzer College Professor Daniel A. Segal has been accepted to participate in the Palestinian American Research Center (PARC) US Faculty Development Seminar on Palestine this summer. The PARC 2018 Faculty Development Seminar will be held from June 20 to July 3, 2018, in Jerusalem and the West Bank.

Segal, Jean Pitzer professor of anthropology and professor of history, will be one of approximately a dozen US faculty members participating in the ninth annual Faculty Development Seminar on Palestine. The seminar’s Jerusalem-based activities will include visits to Palestinian universities, research institutes and cultural institution as well as roundtable discussions, tours of historic cities and meetings with Palestinian colleagues. PARC says seminar participants will “deepen their knowledge of their fields of interest in Palestine and build relationships with Palestinian colleagues and institutions.”

Daniel A. Segal is an anthropologist and historian whose courses at Pitzer College include a two-semester world history sequence and a seminar on Donald Trump’s America. In 2017, he was awarded a Fulbright US Scholar research fellowship to examine the entry of the Brazilian state into the northern Amazon. He was the inaugural director of Pitzer’s Munroe Center for Social Inquiry and is a former fellow of the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University, as well as the past secretary of the American Anthropological Association and past president of the Society for Cultural Anthropology. He graduated summa cum laude from Cornell University and earned his MA and PhD from the University of Chicago.

About Pitzer College

Pitzer College is a nationally top-ranked undergraduate liberal arts and sciences institution. A member of The Claremont Colleges, Pitzer offers a distinctive approach to a liberal arts education by linking intellectual inquiry with interdisciplinary studies, cultural immersion, social responsibility and community involvement. For more information, please visit www.pitzer.edu.


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