Pitzer College, Claremont, California, is under attack by the BDS groups to suspend its Study Abroad Program with the University of Haifa.
The University of Haifa Study Abroad Program at the International School, promises “an experience that you will never forget!” The courses are taught in English by faculty from various departments within the University. All classes are academically accredited per the standards and criteria of North American and European universities. The disciplines include Anthropology, Arabic Language and Culture, Communications, English Language and Literature, Economics and Business Management, Hebrew Language, History, Holocaust Studies, Law, Literature, Maritime Civilizations, Middle Eastern Studies, Peace and Conflict Studies, Philosophy, Political Science, Psychology, Religious and Jewish Studies, and Sociology.
The University of Haifa is considered the most diverse in Israel, boasting a 35 percent Arab student enrollment.
On March 30, the Claremont Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) relaunched their academic boycott campaign to suspend Pitzer College’s study abroad program with the University of Haifa. SJP held an event with over 40 students and community members. The event is part of a series of festivities SJP organized to celebrate Palestine Freedom Weeks. The call to suspend the program is based on “Israel’s discrimination.” SJP says the “University of Haifa’s systematic discrimination against Palestinian, Arab and Muslim students. Most Palestinian students are barred from entry into the program” which undermines Pitzer’s commitment to academic freedom. “Because of the violence and discrimination faced by Palestinians at the University of Haifa and in occupied Palestine, we believe that no student should study abroad at a university operating on occupied land — especially considering that many Palestinian students cannot attend this program.” SJP’s demands the program be suspended until “the Israeli state ends its restrictions on entry to Israel based on ancestry and/or political speech and the Israeli state adopts policies granting visas for exchanges to Palestinian universities on a fully equal basis as it does to Israeli universities.” SJP organizer Miriam Farah told the press, “It’s important for us to target the institutions that we’re currently at and ask ourselves, ‘how does our current institution further perpetuate Israeli violence and Israeli apartheid?’” The Suspend Pitzer Haifa campaign circulated a petition in support of the demands for suspension.
Daniel A. Segal, Jean M. Pitzer Professor of Anthropology and Professor of History, whose expertise areas are: The Caribbean; post-Columbian world history; the social construction of race, as the Pitzer website reveals, is among the leading voices calling to suspend the Pitzer-Haifa program. He posted on his website, “Recent Public Statements I Endorse (all issued by organizations within which I serve on the executive committee or equivalent),” which includes a letter by Jewish Voice for Peace, from June 9. 2022; and, a letter by USACBI, the U.S. campaign focused on a boycott of Israeli academic and cultural institutions, from April 12, 2022.
However, the protest groups against the Pitzer study abroad with Haifa have a long history.
In 2018, the Pitzer faculty voted to suspend the Study Abroad Israel program, which started in 2007, to suspend the collaboration because of a “violation of Palestinian rights.”
Segal, who is Jewish spearheaded the motion. He declared that “the college should stand against Israel’s restrictions on academic exchange, including a 2017 law to bar entry to those who support BDS against the Jewish state.” The BDS supporters urged the study program to be resumed only after Israel ends its entry restrictions based on “ancestry and/or political speech,” and grants visas to Palestinian students on a “fully equal basis.” In 2017, the Pitzer Student Senate voted to bar the use of student funds by five firms, including Caterpillar and Hewlett-Packard, that were complicit in “suppressing Palestinian rights.”
Segal said that the concerns about singling out Israel should not be used to impede social justice. While students and faculty members complainants of the statement “From the River to the Sea, Palestine Will Be Free” as an anti-Semitic threat, Segal dismissed this claim. He stated, “that claim about that expression is a common lie of Zionist propaganda, precisely to trick people like her into censoring pro-Palestinian speech… Some naïve people might even have been duped by this lie, this propaganda, and genuinely think that the phrase means that, but it’s nonsense — malicious nonsense.”
The then-Pitzer President, Melvin L. Oliver condemned the vote and, together with the college trustees, nullified it.
Interestingly, also in 2018, Segal was accepted to participate in the Palestinian American Research Center (PARC) US Faculty Development Seminar on Palestine. PARC’s mission is to “promote and facilitate scholarly research on Palestine, build a broader and deeper knowledge base of scholarship on Palestine, initiate and encourage exchange between U.S. and Palestinian scholars and institutions, and widely disseminate scholarly research on Palestine.”
Segal was one of the dozen US faculty members participating in the ninth annual Faculty Development Seminar on Palestine which is Jerusalem-based, and includes visits to Palestinian universities, research institutes and cultural institution and roundtable discussions, tours of historic cities, and meetings with Palestinian colleagues. PARC states that seminar participants will “deepen their knowledge of their fields of interest in Palestine and build relationships with Palestinian colleagues and institutions.”
Segal’s courses at Pitzer College include a two-semester world history sequence and a seminar on Donald Trump’s America.
Segal is an example of how Palestinians recruit Jewish or Israeli academics. For him, it doesn’t matter if the Palestinians are ruled by dictatorships that execute gays and dissidents and suffer the worse types of human rights abuses, as long as Israel is to be blamed.
IAM will report on this issue in due time.
Study Abroad & International Programs » Approved Programs and Exchanges for Pitzer Students » Pitzer Direct Enroll – Israel: Haifa
Pitzer Direct Enroll – Israel: Haifa
Open to Pitzer students only.
Program Title: Semester at the University of Haifa
Location: Haifa, Israel
Host Website: University of Haifa International School – https://uhaifa.org
Students must be in good academic standing and have a 3.00 or higher GPA. Preference given to juniors and first semester seniors but sophomores are eligible if space is available.
Suggested general preparation options include: Comparative Politics; Intercultural Communications; Language Culture and Society; Introduction to International/ Intercultural Studies; Introduction to Sociocultural Anthropology; Engaging Difference.
Students must first apply through Pitzer’s Office of Study Abroad and International Programs. If accepted by Pitzer, students will then be asked to complete the Haifa application.
Fall program: Early August to early January. Note: Students will take Intensive Hebrew Ulpan or Intensive Arabic from early August to late August. The actual semester program runs from mid October to early January.Spring program: Late January to early June – Intensive Hebrew Ulpan or Intensive Arabic winter program runs late January to mid February. Semester program runs late February to early June.
Pre-semester Intensive Hebrew Ulpan or Intensive Arabic, and the minimum full-time course-load equivalent to four PItzer course credits during the regular semester, and the Pitzer course MLLC110 Intercultural Learning: Portfolio Writing via Sakai.
Students will take either an Intensive Hebrew Ulpan or Intensive Arabic prior to the semester program. Students may choose to continue their language study during the regular semester.
The university does not offer support for independent study projects.
The semester program will consist of courses offered by the University of Haifa International School, which are taught in English. For course offerings, go the course catalog
The International School offers a variety of courses taught in English, an internship program, Arabic Language.Culture and Civilization: https://uhaifa.org/academics/study-abroad/semester-year-abroad/course-catalog. Green Technologies also available.
Students have course options outside the International School. If a student is proficient in Hebrew, he/she can select courses offered by other departments within the University of Haifa. The English Language and Literature Department as well as the Fine Arts Department are options for students who are not proficient in Hebrew but wish to take courses outside the International School. It should be noted that the University of Haifa and International School calendars differ. Students who take courses outside the International School should be prepared for a longer semester.
Pre-semester Intensive Hebrew Ulpan or Intensive Arabic (5 credits), and 12 or 13 credits during the regular semester. Additionally, students will receive 0.5 Pitzer course credits for the writing course via Sakai. (See above under Required Courses.) In total, students should end up with 4.75 or 5.00 course credits.
Housing and Board Options
There are two types of dormitory accommodations available to international students: modest apartments of three double rooms and a shared bathroom, kitchen, and living space or apartments of six single rooms, each room with its own bathroom, and a shared kitchen and living space. All international students will be sharing their suite with Israeli students, a diverse population of Hebrew, Arabic, English, Russian, and Spanish speakers. There is no meal plan. Students receive a stipend to prepare meals in their suites.
Approved Study Abroad Programs for Pitzer College Students
Africa and Middle East GHANA – SIT Ghana Globalization and Afro-Chic ISRAEL – University of Haifa LEBANON – American University of Beirut MOROCCO – Al Akhawayn University RWANDA – SIT Rwanda SOUTH AFRICA – University of KwaZulu Natal MULTI-COUNTRY – *Pitzer in Southern Africa The Americas ARGENTINA – ISEP Universidad del Salvador; ISEP Universidad Católica de Córdoba BRAZIL – Pitzer in Brazil Summer Program CHILE – ISEP Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaíso COSTA RICA – *Pitzer in Costa Rica Semester Program; *Pitzer in Costa Rica Summer Health CUBA – Sarah Lawrence College in Cuba ECUADOR – *Pitzer in Ecuador MEXICO – Autonomous University of the Yucatan Asia and Oceania AUSTRALIA – University of Adelaide; ISEP Direct at La Trobe University; ISEP Direct at University of Technology in Sydney BHUTAN- Royal Thimphu College HONG KONG – Lingnan University JAPAN – Kwansei Gakuin University Semester and Summer Program KOREA – ISEP Ewha Womans University; ISEP Korea University; ISEP Yonsei University KYRGYZSTAN – Bard Abroad in Bishkek NEPAL – *Pitzer in Nepal NEW ZEALAND – ISEP Massey University in Palmerston North VIETNAM – *Pitzer in Vietnam Summer Program Europe DENMARK- ISEP University of Aalborg ENGLAND – Sarah Lawrence College with University of Oxford; Sarah Lawrence College London Theatre Program with the British American Drama Academy; University of Birmingham; University of Bristol; University of Essex FRANCE- Sarah Lawrence College in Paris; Sciences Po; University of Nantes GERMANY- Bard Abroad in Berlin; ISEP Justus-Liebig Universtät Giessen; Leuphana University of Lüneburg GREECE – College Year in Athens IRELAND – University College Cork ITALY – *Pitzer in Italy; The Centro: Intercollegiate Center for Classical Studies in Rome NETHERLANDS – ISEP Tilburg University SCOTLAND – University of Aberdeen SPAIN – University of León; ISEP University of Murcia; Spanish Institute for Global Education with University of Sevilla, University of Pablo de Olavide or EUSA Centro Universitario SWEDEN – ISEP Mälardalen University; ISEP Södertörn University Domestic Exchanges Arizona Northern Arizona University – School of Indigenous Studies Maine Colby College New York Bard College – BGIA, New York City New York Sarah Lawrence College Pennsylvania Haverford College * Indicates a Pitzer College run program. Program options subject to change each year. Pitzer College Direct Run Programs Pitzer College embraces a unique set of educational objectives that encourage students from all majors to think about the world in ways that expand their understanding of other cultures. To further its educational objective of intercultural understanding, Pitzer has carefully developed its own study abroad programs. These programs employ a nationally recognized cultural immersion model integrating intensive language instruction, study trips, family stays, a core course on the host culture, community service, and the opportunity to pursue an independent study project. The Pitzer in Brazil Summer Program provides students with an unparalleled opportunity to engage with a city that has retained and celebrated its African roots and improve their Portuguese language skills. The program takes place over six weeks in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil. The city is an UNESCO World Heritage site, the first colonial capital of Brazil, and the center of Afro-Brazilian culture. During the Pitzer in Costa Rica Summer Health Program students explore important public health concepts, develop their Spanish language abilities, and have an opportunity to become immersed in the health care industry in Costa Rica. Through the Pitzer in Vietnam Summer Program students study Vietnamese language, history, culture, political structures, and environmental issues. The program is based in Hue, Vietnam which underwent significant damage during the war but recently many of its extraordinary historical monuments, including its Imperial (“Forbidden”) City have been extensively restored. The Pitzer in Costa Rica Semester Program is a great option for students who want to develop their Spanish language abilities and have an interest in ecology, environmental studies, chemistry, engineering, biology, ecotourism, and cultural studies. The Pitzer in Ecuador Semester Program provides a dynamic setting for studying the Ecuadorian economic, political, cultural, and environmental reality. The program is based in Quito, the one of the most beautiful cities in South America and is affiliated with Universidad San Francisco de Quito (USFQ). The Pitzer in Italy Semester Program goes beyond an acquaintance of Italian culture. The program is based in Parma which provides students with a high degree of integration into Italian family life and community. Students learn about the Emilia-Romagna region and how it has played a vital role in Italy’s economic, cultural, and political life. Pitzer in Nepal Semester Program is the college’s longest-running program and has gained recognition for its highly effective approach to language and cultural training. Through the program, students become acquainted with some of the main historical, social, and political issues fundamental to Nepal’s modern identity. Pitzer in Southern Africa Semester Program is a multi-country comparative studies semester program in Botswana and South Africa. It provides students with an opportunity to learn about the multiple ways governments, NGOs, and local communities choose to approach issues such as the colonial legacy, development, power, human rights, big game conservation, tourism, health care, education, and poverty alleviation.
April 14, 2023 12:08 am
Pitzer paints over pro-Palestinian artwork, messages on Free Wall
On Wednesday, April 12, Claremont Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) announced an April 14 event to repaint the Pitzer College Free Wall.
This followed an April 11 email from Pitzer’s Vice President of Student Affairs Sandra Vasquez to Pitzer students confirming that the Pitzer administration removed pro-Palestinian artwork and messages painted by Claremont Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) on the wall.
Prior to the administration’s repainting, the wall contained Palestinian symbols such as a keffiyeh pattern, an olive leaf and an outline of the state of Palestine with the Palestinian flag inside of it. It also featured statements like “Suspend Pitzer Haifa,” “Free Palestine” and “From the River to the Sea, Palestine will be Free.” SJP initially spray-painted the messages on March 30, the day of their Suspend Pitzer Haifa campaign relaunch.
Vasquez explained that she directed the removal following concerns from a Pitzer student and a faculty member.
“[The] Office of Student Affairs leadership took immediate steps to share our acknowledgement of [the] error, an explanation of how it occurred, and an apology with a concerned faculty leader, both in-person and in writing via email,” Vasquez said in the email. “Our office made an honest error, and again, I sincerely apologize.”
Pitzer Professor of Anthropology and History and proponent of SJP’s campaign Dan Segal contacted Vasquez on Thursday, April 6, confirming the administration’s involvement after hearing about the issue. Segal shared that Vasquez explained that the student and faculty member complainants had interpreted the statement “From the River to the Sea, Palestine Will Be Free” as an anti-Semitic threat.
“I told her the truth: that that claim about that expression is a common lie of Zionist propaganda, precisely to trick people like her into censoring pro-Palestinian speech,” Segal said. “Some naïve people might even have been duped by this lie, this propaganda, and genuinely think that the phrase means that, but it’s nonsense — malicious nonsense.”
He sent an email to Pitzer faculty later that day stating that the painted over wall constituted “a grievous violation of speech rights” and targeted Palestinian-identified students.
“In wider U.S. society, anti-Palestinian bigotry —racism, to speak honestly — is normalized. And rather than Pitzer being an exception to this wickedness, it is especially true at Pitzer,” Segal said in an email to TSL. “This new censorship by the Pitzer administration hardens that normalization of anti-Palestinian racism by this Pitzer administration.”
SJP was not consulted prior to their artwork and messages being painted over, Palestinian student and SJP member Jacob Brittain PZ ’23 explained.
“It was a complete falling apart of the administration structure and their communication, since it was not even clearly communicated [that] when [they] do remove anything from the Free Wall, this is supposed to happen,” Brittain said.
Brittain clarified that the “From the River to the Sea, Palestine Will Be Free” statement is a common phrase used in support of Palestinian freedom.
“Understanding the [intentions] of where [the statement] comes from is the key purpose,” Brittain said. “I think that’s something that allows me to feel like I have a voice when I hear it or when I say it.”
Segal criticized Vasquez’s email response, sharing that the administrative apology was too abstract in mentioning the censorship.
“This so-called apology thus fails to acknowledge, and fails to accept responsibility for, the harms done by this administrative censorship to Palestinian and Palestinian-American students at Pitzer and at the 5Cs,” Segal said via email.
According to Brittain, Pitzer administration has offered to reimburse the spray paint and materials needed to reinstate the mural.
SJP member Evelyn Lillimoe PZ ‘25 stated that she was not completely surprised at Pitzer’s actions given their precedent of opposing student support for Palestinian liberation, referencing former Pitzer President Melvin Oliver using two vetoes during his tenure in response to resolutions in support of Palestine.
“Pitzer has a long history of silencing student voices that are for Palestinian immigration and specifically Palestinian student voices,” Lillimoe said. “I think this act of censorship was shocking but not necessarily unsurprising.”
In reparation for the act of censorship, Brittain and Lillimoe ask that Pitzer support their Suspend Haifa Pitzer campaign.
“If Pitzer is truly dedicated to social responsibility and uplifting student voices, then what they need to do is support our campaign to conditionally suspend the study abroad program at the University of Haifa because that is a way that we can materially contribute to the fight for Palestinian Liberation,” Lillimoe said.
The addition of the “inadequate” apology to the censorship and previous veto of the Suspend Pitzer Haifa resolution signals a broader anti-Palestinian trend, according to Segal.
“My response to this administration is this: your anti-Palestinian racism is showing,” Segal said in his April 11 email.
Nhi Nguyen contributed reporting.
April 6, 2023 10:58 pm
SJP relaunches campaign to suspend Pitzer Haifa study abroad program
By Jake Chang and Sajah Ali
On Thursday, March 30, Claremont Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) relaunched their academic boycott campaign to suspend Pitzer College’s direct enrollment study abroad program with the University of Haifa in Israel.
SJP held the relaunch at Pitzer’s Grove House, where over 40 students and community members gathered to listen to a presentation held by club organizers. The event, which was announced on the club’s Instagram page, is part of a series of festivities SJP organized as part of Palestine Freedom Weeks.
The boycott campaign announced last Thursday models after its iteration in the 2018-2019 school year, when SJP addressed grievances with the Haifa program and called upon its conditional suspension based on their demands. The call to suspend the program based on Israel’s discrimination and its subsequent Pitzer College Council motion was a source of tension and controversy between students, faculty and Pitzer’s then-administration.
In their campaign statement published last Thursday, SJP emphasized the University of Haifa’s systematic discrimination against Palestinian, Arab and Muslim students. Most Palestinian students are barred from entry into the program, which they said undermines Pitzer’s commitment to academic freedom.
“Because of the violence and discrimination faced by Palestinians at the University of Haifa and in occupied Palestine, we believe that no student should study abroad at a university operating on occupied land — especially considering that many Palestinian students cannot attend this program,” SJP said in their statement.
Currently, SJP’s demands include that the program be suspended until “the Israeli state ends its restrictions on entry to Israel based on ancestry and/or political speech and the Israeli state adopts policies granting visas for exchanges to Palestinian universities on a fully equal basis as it does to Israeli universities,” SJP said in their campaign statement.
If they were to suspend the Haifa program, Pitzer would become the first institution nationally to endorse the academic boycott, according to SJP.
“It’s important for us to target the institutions that we’re currently at and ask ourselves, ‘how does our current institution further perpetuate Israeli violence and Israeli apartheid?’” SJP organizer Miriam Farah CM ‘23 told TSL.
In 2019, the Pitzer College Council, which is composed of students, faculty and staff, voted 67 to 28 in favor of conditionally suspending the program, following more than a year of organizing. Pitzer became the first higher education institution to pass such a motion.
However, former Pitzer President Melvin Oliver vetoed the vote less than three hours after it occurred, citing the political nature that would be implicated in the suspension, stating that “[i]t is rarely, if ever, the role of the college to be taking such positions” in a press release.
Oliver has since retired from his role as president and Strom Thacker is set to take on his role this July. Farah added that with this new campaign, SJP hopes to make the feelings of the Pitzer community clear to Thacker.
“It’s very important for us to consider these shifting dynamics of concern and how students and faculty can have an active role in the new president’s agenda,” Farah said.
The campaign is part of a wider trend advocating for Palestinian liberation internationally, namely the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement that was adopted by the National Students for Justice in Palestine in 2005.
SJP cited the wave of support in academia, including the Middle East Studies Association vote to endorse the Palestinian call for BDS on March 23, 2022. However, SJP organizers like Anna Babboni SC ‘24 hope that the 5C community becomes more engaged in such conversations about BDS on campus..
“There’s been some loss of momentum about taking up BDS on these campuses, so even just talking about the academic boycott […] is a huge way to create a domino effect on our campuses to get people interested and committed to Palestinian liberation and freedom,” Babboni said.
Pitzer Professor of Anthropology and History Dan Segal is a strong proponent for the Suspend Pitzer Haifa campaign and was previously involved in leading the initial faculty vote in 2018 that catalyzed the College Council motion the following year.
As a person of Jewish background, Segal has been active in Palestinian solidarity work in the United States for decades by showing support for Palestinian freedom and liberation. He said he cannot support Pitzer in facilitating the program.
“We shouldn’t have an exchange relationship with a university, for instance, in which Palestinian students don’t have equal rights at those universities to Jewish students,” Segal said.
Segal also called upon Haifa’s involvement with occupation forces as a reason that Pitzer should not maintain an exchange relationship with the university. In addition, he endorses the BDS movement in providing a nonviolent path for institutions to show that they are unwilling to support the Israeli state.
“When that message gets across, that’s when Israel will come finally to the negotiating table and will negotiate an end to their atrocities [and] their human rights violations,” Segal said.
Segal also called upon the next Pitzer president to act differently than his predecessor.
“We have to count on him […] not to support the denial of freedom to other people [and] not to support other people living under repression,” Segal said. “If he were to veto a successful suspension of the Pitzer Haifa program and show that he, like Melvin Oliver is a supporter of apartheid, is a supporter of murderous ethnic cleansing, then very clearly he’s unfit to serve.”
The launch of the boycott campaign is part of the Palestinian Freedom Weeks that SJP is currently hosting through March and April. According to Babboni, SJP aims to promote cultural events, conduct political education and advocate for the Claremont community to take up BDS.
On April 2, SJP and the 5C Prison Abolition co-hosted a talk titled “Policing in the US and Palestine.” Around 30 students attended the discussion with the Stop LAPD Spying Coalition, an organization that builds community power to abolish police surveillance and its deliberate harm toward Black and Brown people.
During the talk, members of the Coalition spoke about abolitionist organizing and the connection between US and Israeli policing and human rights.
Farah said the talk was important in drawing connections between the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) and the Israeli Defense Fund (IDF).
“What I found most interesting was how police organizations and forces in LA have close ties to Zionist and Israeli organizations,” Farah said. “I think oftentimes people forget how much funding the U.S. government gives to Israel, nearly 4 billion [dollars] per year, and most of it goes to military aid, so I think it’s important for us to draw these connections.”
On Tuesday, March 28, SJP also held an Academic Boycott 101 event, along with a history of BDS at the 5Cs. Farah said she sees these events as a way for students from any background to participate in the BDS movement and provide feedback.
The Suspend Pitzer Haifa campaign circulated a petition in support of the demands for the conditional suspension.
“We want to reiterate the point that the Pitzer community voted to suspend this program during the 2018-2019 school year and there is continued support for that resolution,” Farah said.
Babboni emphasized the importance of the petition in guiding SJP’s future actions.
“We want to show that this is a community ask, that this is what the Pitzer community wants,” Babboni said. “We want to pulse check where people are at with how committed they feel to taking up the academic boycott and what the boycott means to them and get the ball rolling for our future campaign strategy.”
Segal called upon the 5C community and administration to show continued support for the campaign and expand throughout the consortium.
“The challenge ought to be to the faculty, students and staff at each of the other colleges which have not ended their exchange relations with Pomona [College], Scripps [College] and [Claremont McKenna College],” Segal said. “Every college and university in this consortium should ask itself, ‘Can they support a program that is bolstering apartheid, a program that denies academic freedom to Palestinians?’”
In an April 4 email to TSL, Assistant Vice President of College Communications Wendy Shattuck told TSL that Pitzer was aware of the campaign but had no further comments at the time.
Suspend Pitzer Haifa 2023-2024
We, Claremont Students for Justice in Palestine, call on Pitzer College to suspend its exchange with the University of Haifa until
(a) Israel ends its discriminatory restrictions on entry based on ancestry and/or political speech and
(b) Israel adopts policies granting visas for exchanges to Palestinian universities on a fully equal basis as it does to Israeli universities
- In 2018, Pitzer College’s faculty voted to conditionally suspend the College’s exchange with University of Haifa until the above conditions were met. The resolution then moved to the College Council, where it passed again with ⅔ majority
- This marked a historic win for the BDS movement and Palestinian freedom, making Pitzer the first institution of higher education in the country to cut ties with an Israeli study abroad program
- However, merely four hours after the bill passed, President Melvin Oliver nullified the vote and flew to the University of Haifa to affirm his support of Israeli apartheid, thus undermining the Pitzer community’s embrace of the academic boycott in support of Palestinian freedom
- Throughout Pitzer’s 60-year history, the Pitzer administration and board of trustees have twice unilaterally rejected a democratic motion set by its College Council or the Student Senate. Both vetoes addressed bills that fought for Palestinian liberation, demonstrating the extent to which Pitzer College disregards community calls for justice in Palestine
- Pitzer’s “core” values include “social responsibility,” “intercultural understanding,” and “student engagement.” We must hold the college to an ethical and democratic standard regarding their stance on Palestinian freedom, justice, and equality
- Between 1947 and 1948, more than 40,000 Palestinians were forced out of their homes in Haifa alone, and refugees still, to this day, cannot return to their homes. Descendants of these refugees who study at the Claremont Colleges would likely be barred from this study abroad program. How can we have a program that some of our own students cannot participate in due to their ethnicity?
- Prioritizing human rights, ethical considerations, and supporting the academic boycott is the pinnacle of academic freedom and a larger fight for justice internationally
- Palestinian and Arab students and faculty at the University of Haifa have urged us to take up this fight: “Since we the Palestinian students in Haifa University are banned from supporting or calling for the boycott of Israeli universities and Israeli academia in general, we thank the rallying students for rising the Palestinian cause in American universities.”
Given President Oliver’s recent retirement and the reasons described above, it is time for President-Designate Strom Thacker to abide by the Pitzer community’s overwhelming support of Palestinian freedom by cutting its ties with the University of Haifa. One tangible way we can support Palestinian freedom in our campuses is by making sure we’re not supporting institutions that contribute to discrimination and oppression. As the US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel asserts, “To enroll, or participate in any way, in a study abroad program at an Israeli institution means ignoring if not perpetuating the ongoing violation of the academic- and, indeed, human- freedoms of Palestinians.” Join us to demand the conditional suspension of Pitzer’s study abroad program at the University of Haifa by signing this petition. You can also access further resources at our website.
In solidarity and struggle,
Claremont Students for Justice in Palestine
Pitzer College Council votes on whether to suspend its Haifa study abroad program today. Here are the key players
By Jaimie Ding and Patrick Liu
The Pitzer College Council will vote today on whether to suspend the school’s study abroad program with the University of Haifa in Israel. Advocates for suspending the program, including Pitzer College professor Dan Segal cite Israel’s “discrimination on the basis of ancestry and legitimate political speech” as motivation for bringing the motion forward.
Here are the key players on both sides of the debate and events which have occurred in the lead-up to the vote.
SUSPEND THE PROGRAM
Dan Segal, a professor of anthropology and a faculty representative on Pitzer’s Study Abroad and International Programs Committee, brought forward the initial motion to suspend the Haifa program at the Nov. 8 faculty meeting. He has been the most vocal faculty member in support of suspending the program.
In comments to the Pitzer Board of Trustees, Segal wrote that participating in the study abroad program “exposes [Pitzer students] to discrimination on the basis of ancestry and legitimate political speech — specifically speech in favor of the nonviolent pursuit of social justice” and that the original motion passed by faculty “lends crucial support for academic freedom for Palestinian universities.”
On Tuesday, Segal co-sponsored an amended motion with Faculty Executive Committee Chair Claudia Strauss that lays out a uniform policy ending study abroad programs in countries that “restrict entry on the basis of either (a) legally protected political speech or (b) race or ancestry (as distinct from citizenship).”
Under the resolution, the FEC would initiate a case study of any program violating the aforementioned policies before having Pitzer College Council vote on its suspension.
This policy would be applied to all Pitzer study abroad programs.
After establishing this policy, the motion would apply it to Haifa — suspending the program.
This amended motion is a “direct response to the concern voiced by some faculty and students that absent such an initial statement of uniform policy, some outside audiences will misread and/or misrepresent the motion as somehow having a double-standard about the Israeli state,” Segal said via email.
Students for Justice in Palestine
Students for Justice in Palestine is a “grassroots student organization that is part of a national coalition of college chapters,” SJP chair Lea Kayali PO ’19 said via email. “SJP raises awareness about the situation in Palestine and advocates for an end to the Israeli occupation through educational initiatives, college motions … and student actions.”
In advance of the Haifa vote, the organization has focused on outreach to Pitzer faculty and student senators, and on building a coalition of other campus groups, according to SJP member Jorj Chisam-Majid PZ ’20. Several Pitzer affinity groups have provided statements of support for the Haifa motion.
SJP feels “very confident about the vote because we have received a lot of support and have had very successful outreach campaigns,” Chisam-Majid said. “What we are more worried out is a situation where [Pitzer] President [Melvin] Oliver and the Board of Trustees veto the vote — which would be another huge blow to the shared governance and Pitzer’s commitment to social justice.”
Added Kayali: “In the U.S., we have a unique obligation to be attentive to and act on Israeli human rights violations. The U.S. gives Israel $3.8 billion in military aid annually, and routinely defends Israel’s violations of international human rights.”
DON’T SUSPEND THE PROGRAM
Pitzer President Melvin Oliver
At a Pitzer College Council meeting last November, President Melvin Oliver opposed the faculty motion, questioning why the resolution targeted Israel only, and not other countries that have allegedly perpetrated human rights abuses, including China and Nepal.
After the College Council vote, Oliver will make a final decision on the Haifa program’s fate, taking into consideration the council decision. However, the president has historically honored College Council decisions, according to Pitzer Student Senate member Isaiah Kramer PZ ’20.
Claremont Jewish Organizations (Claremont Progressive Israel Alliance, Claremont Colleges Hillel, J Street U Claremont Colleges)
The Claremont Colleges Hillel, J Street U Claremont Colleges and Claremont Progressive Israel Alliance released a joint statement March 13 urging the Pitzer College Council to apply the same standards to all of Pitzer’s study abroad programs or “vote down the motion if it remains as-is.”
The statement mentions a Jewish student leader in opposition to the Haifa motion who was targeted by “menacing emails and had their name placed on a hate site,” and condemns Islamophobic rhetoric targeting Muslim and Arab students at Pitzer.
Zachary Freiman PO ’20, who is on the board of the Claremont Progressive Israel Alliance, said “the effort to delegitimize the State of Israel, whether through the anti-Semitic [Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions] campaign or other means, and scrub the Jewish connection to the Land of Israel is a modern-day form of anti-Semitism.”
Claremont Colleges Hillel, a 5C Jewish student organization, posted a statement on its Facebook page.
“We have heard from many students, especially Jewish students, that they have felt ostracized and confused by the rhetoric surrounding the upcoming vote,” the post states. “We certainly empathize with this perspective as the movement to suspend the Haifa program seems to have been selectively chosen to single out Israel.”
The joint statement from Hillel, J Street and CPIA also acknowledged that “there is no question that Palestinians live under occupation and are subject to discrimination.”
EVENTS ON CAMPUS
Israel on Campus Coalition
The Israel on Campus Coalition posted a video on its Facebook page March 11 in opposition to suspending the Haifa program. The text in the video, which featured interviews with 5C students read, “How would you feel if your student exchange program was cancelled … Only because of where you come from?”
The ICC is an organization that “unite[s] and empower[s] pro-Israel campus organizations,” according to its website. It is unclear whether the organization is working with 5C students or groups.
Jessi Hjelle SC ’21 said her comments in the video were misconstrued to seem like she supported the Haifa program when she actually opposes it.
Hjelle said she was approached by a group of people who appeared to be students, asking her if she wanted to be in a study abroad video. They asked if she planned to study abroad and where, and what she would do if she was told she could not study abroad in her preferred country.
“At no point during this time did these people mention Israel or Haifa to me,” Hjelle said via message. “They took my answers and used them out of context for their own propaganda.”
When Hjelle reached out to ICC to ask if they would edit her out of the video, she said they ignored her.
SJP released a statement condemning the video as “unethical propaganda” and stating that they “denounce ICC’s disingenuous distortion of student opinion, designed to fabricate a false narrative.”
Posters on campus and other threats
Posters have appeared across Pitzer’s campus depicting a tweet from several years ago allegedly from the Palestinian Sunni-Islamist fundamentalist organization Hamas, which the U.S. State Department classifies as a terrorist organization, expressing support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, accompanied by a photo of masked Hamas militants carrying rifles.
The posters urge Pitzer to keep the Haifa program and have become a source of fear for some Muslim and Palestinian students on campus.
Chisam-Majid said they were “terrified” by the posters, which “clearly draw on old racist and Islamophobic tropes that insinuate any activism by us is similar to ‘terrorism’ and that the BDS movement is somehow violent.”
Posters like these often come before a round of doxxing and harassment — especially by outside actors, they said.
At the March 10 Pitzer Student Senate meeting, Kramer said he had filed a safety report. He also said there was security camera footage of someone putting up posters, and security will attempt to identify the responsible individual.
Pitzer’s Dean of Faculty Nigel Boyle said administrative offices have also received anonymous harassment via phone calls and emails. IT was able to trace some of the emails to Pennsylvania, he said.
“Obviously the fear is that that’s something that could escalate quite nastily,” Boyle said. “You always worry how certain individuals might react to inflammatory pieces they might read.”
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.
Office of Communications
AJC Praises Pitzer College President Oliver’s Decision to Preserve Haifa University Program
March 15, 2019 — Los Angeles
American Jewish Committee (AJC) praised Pitzer College President Melvin L. Oliver for his principled stance in affirming that a study abroad partnership with the University of Haifa in Israel will continue despite a vote by the school’s College Council recommending that the program cease to operate.
“Some will say that I am taking my own position on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in choosing not to implement the recommendation of the College Council. I am not. Instead, I am refusing to permit Pitzer College to take a position that I believe will only harm the College,” Oliver wrote in a strong statement issued soon after the vote.
The drive to end the Haifa University partnership was initiated by a Pitzer professor and other Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS)-affiliated activists on campus.
“By singling out Israel, the recommendation itself is prejudiced,” wrote Oliver. “If implemented, the recommendation would unnecessarily alienate a large cross section of the College’s constituencies. The reputational harm to the College would be irreparable and as president of his institution, I cannot permit that to happen.”
Calling the College Council recommendation “an academic boycott of Israel,” Oliver wrote, “I categorically oppose any form of academic boycott of any country. We cannot allow our objections to the policies of any nation’s government to become a blanket indictment of the nation itself and, by extension, its citizens.”
AJC has advocated for months for a rejection of the proposed boycott of Haifa University.
“The College Council action was an outrageous attack on academic freedom,” said AJC Los Angeles Assistant Director Siamak Kordestani and AJC Director of Campus Affairs Zev Hurwitz. “The measure threatened to allow a dangerous precedent – that it is acceptable for outside political influence to limit student experiences.”
Oliver has been vigorously supportive of academic freedom since the fall semester, when the attempt to end relations with the Haifa campus began. At the time Oliver also spoke out strongly against ending this academic opportunity for Pitzer students.
“By preventing the implementation of an effort to sever ties with Israel’s most diverse campus, President Oliver demonstrates moral courage, support for true academic freedom, and the preservation of neutrality for Pitzer College on contentious conflicts,” said Kordestani and Hurwitz.
https://www.latimes.com/local/education/la-me-edu-pitzer-faculty-israel-20181208-story.htmlPitzer College faculty moves to suspend Israel program in support of Palestinian rights
BY TERESA WATANABESTAFF WRITER
DEC. 8, 2018 5 AM PT
Pitzer College faculty have voted to suspend a study abroad program in Israel, sparking widespread controversy over what is believed to be the nation’s first such campus action in support of Palestinian rights.
The program with the University of Haifa is tiny — only 11 students have participated since it began in 2007 — but its potential suspension has sparked outsized response from those who hail it as a human rights breakthrough and others who say it unfairly singles out Israel and denies academic opportunities to Pitzer students.
Faculty and students on a college governing council will vote next semester on whether to support last month’s faculty decision at the small liberal arts college in Claremont. Last week, Pitzer President Melvin L. Oliver condemned the vote at the governing council meeting, saying it was a repudiation of the college’s educational mission to promote intercultural understanding.
But Daniel Segal, the anthropology and history professor who spearheaded the motion, said the college should stand against Israel’s restrictions on academic exchange, including a 2017 law to bar entry to those who support boycotts, divestment or sanctions against the Jewish state. The faculty motion calls for the study abroad program to be resumed only after Israel ends its entry restrictions based on “ancestry and/or political speech” and begins to grant visas for exchanges to Palestinian universities on a “fully equal basis”to those it grants for exchanges to Israeli ones.
Segal, who is Jewish, said his tradition’s ethics obliged him to support the human rights not only of Jews but of all people.
The recent faculty vote marked the latest controversy at Pitzer over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Last year, the Pitzer Student Senate voted to bar the use of student funds for goods or services provided by five firms, including Caterpillar and Hewlett-Packard, that the students believed were complicit in suppressing Palestinian rights. But Oliver and college trustees nullified the vote in what they acknowledged was an unprecedented move against student autonomy.
The Pitzer faculty also voted last month to oppose that action by Oliver and the trustees.
Ron Robin, president of the University of Haifa, said it was particularly ironic that faculty chose to target the study abroad program on his campus because it is the most diverse in Israel, with the proportion of Arab students — 35% — higher than the Arab population in Israel at large. His said the university’s social mission is to create a broad middle class inclusive of all religions, races and ethnicities.
“We have Jews and Arab faculty and students coexisting and this seems to contradict the narrative about Israel as an apartheid state,” Robin said in an interview. “We hope we’re a crystal ball of what Israeli society could look like.”
Students at Pitzer haven’t made a lot of use of the program. None have participated in it since 2016, a college spokeswoman said.
Claire Wengrod, a senior majoring in political studies and member of the college Faculty Executive Committee, said the program should remain an option for students. She and other student senators are sponsoring a resolution to oppose suspension of the program, criticizing faculty for not consulting students first. The Student Senate is set to vote Sunday.
“I support students having the choice where they want to study,” Wengrod said. “I don’t think it’s right for the school or faculty to prevent students from doing it.”
But Lea Kayali, president of Students for Justice in Palestine at the Claremont Colleges consortium of Pitzer and four other undergraduate campuses, said her organization feels differently.
“We are really ecstatic to see the faculty supporting Palestinian students and all those effected by Israel’s atrocious border and visa policies,” she said in an email. “For us, it is time that the college stand in support of students denied educational experiences in occupied Palestine.”
In the past two years, Israel’s restrictions on visas have sharply decreased the number of international academics at Palestinian universities, jeopardizing their programs, according to the Committee on Academic Freedom of the Middle East Studies Assn. of North America. But the Israeli Supreme Court recently ruled that a student’s political views alone could not be used to deny entry for studying in Israel.
Advocates for Israel said they feared the Pitzer action could embolden faculty on other campuses to follow suit. AMCHA Initiative, a California-based nonprofit that fights anti-Semitism on college campuses, this week launched a national campaign with 100 other organizations to urge college leaders to condemn faculty who promote academic boycotts of Israel.
AMCHA organized a similar effort in 2013 after the American Studies Association endorsed an academic boycott of Israel.
“Curtailing student academic freedom and educational opportunities for political reasons is reprehensible and a very dangerous precedent,” said Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, the nonprofit’s director.
Oliver, in his remarks to the college council, said that Pitzer continues exchanges with countries such as China and Nepal with “significant human rights abuses.”
“We need to reject this restriction and double down on our engagement with communities we disagree with, whose political systems we decry, and where discrimination and bias are endemic,” he said.
Segal said concerns about singling out Israel should not be used to impede social justice.
U.S. FACULTY DEVELOPMENT SEMINAR ON PALESTINE
2023 U.S. Faculty Development Seminar on Palestine Travel Fellowships
Two program dates: April 24 – May 7, 2023 or May 15 – May 28, 2023 in Jerusalem and the West Bank
EXTENDED DEADLINE: Applications due December 28, 2022
Awards announced January 30, 2023
The Palestinian American Research Center (PARC) announces its 14th annual Faculty Development Seminar (FDS) on Palestine competition for U.S. faculty members with a demonstrated interest in, but little travel experience to, Palestine. Applicants may come from any field of study. Each of our 2023 programs will host 12 U.S. faculty members to participate in roundtable discussions; visits to Palestinian universities, research institutes, and cultural institutions; tours of historic cities; as well as meetings with Palestinian colleagues. Through these activities, participants will learn about the region, deepen their knowledge about their fields of interest in Palestine, and build relationships with Palestinian colleagues and institutions.
- Be U.S. citizens.
- Be full-time faculty members at recognized U.S. colleges or universities. Applicants may come from any academic discipline, including the arts, humanities, social sciences, economics, law, health, and sciences.
- Have a demonstrated interest in Palestine.
- Have little previous travel experience to Palestine.
- Be willing to integrate their experiences from the seminar into their own teaching, research and/or other projects.
- Be willing to use their skills and experience to benefit Palestinian colleagues and institutions.
- Be a member of PARC. Visit the PARC membership page for more information.
PARC will make all arrangements for the program, including hotel, site visits, tours, and meetings with Palestinian colleagues. PARC will cover all expenses for in-country, group ground travel, accommodations, and group meals. International travel and personal and free day expenses will be the responsibility of each faculty member and/or their university. In cases of demonstrated need, there is limited funding available to cover partial costs for international travel.
Professors from Minority Serving Institutions and Community Colleges are especially encouraged to apply. PARC will provide three travel stipends up to $1,000 each for airfare for professors from these institutions.
Funding for these three participants is provided by the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs through an agreement with CAORC.
One thought on “Palestinian Groups Urge to Suspend Pitzer College Study Abroad Program with the University of Haifa”
Judeophobes need no schooling: