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Letter to UC President Napolitano

Letter to UC President Napolitano Regarding Anti-Zionist Political Advocacy and Activism in Classrooms in Violation of UC Policies



November 1, 2016


Dear President Napolitano,

We are 47 religious, civil rights, education and research organizations, as well as 176 individual faculty members on campuses across the country. Many of our members are part of the UC community, including UC alumni, students and faculty. We write to express our grave concern at what we believe to be the improper behavior of anti-Zionist faculty and student instructors, who use the classroom as a pulpit for political advocacy and activism in violation of UC policies and conventional academic ethics designed to curb exactly such abuse.

An examination into the vetting process for the student-taught course “Palestine: A Settler-Colonial Analysis,” at UC-Berkeley, revealed that the Regents Policy on Course Content was either ignored or breached by the course’s sponsoring department, Ethnic Studies. Even after Dean Carla Hesse asked Ethnic Studies to re-review the syllabus in light of the Regents Policy, the department chair approved the course, denying that it had any particular political agenda or that it crossed the line from education to indoctrination. We find it hard to believe that a course with an obviously one-sided anti-Israel reading list, exclusively anti-Israel guest speakers, and a clear intent to justify the elimination of the State of Israel is considered to be consistent with Regents Policy.

This course at UC-Berkeley is not an isolated case. In a similar case a year ago, an almost identical course at UC Riverside, “Palestine & Israel: Settler-Colonialism and Apartheid,” was proposed by a student instructor under the supervision of an openly anti-Zionist faculty advisor in the English Department. When confronted with similar concerns about an inadequate vetting process that did not ensure the course’s compliance with the Regents Policy on Course Content before its approval, UCR officials there, too, claimed after the fact that the unambiguously one-sided, proselytizing course was in compliance with all UC policies. In stark contrast, Verity Educate, a non-partisan, non-profit group that analyzes the educational accuracy and objectivity of classroom curricula, determined that the UCR course “reflects a singular interpretation” and cautioned that the purposeful lack of political balance will result in students “com[ing] to see one argument as the mainstream or accepted view.”

We are deeply troubled that courses like these receive approval, despite the fact that they are blatantly politically-motivated and intended to indoctrinate students and are thus in violation of the Regents Policy on Course Content. We suggest that the faculty members responsible for overseeing course content, particularly at the departmental level, are failing to exercise due diligence in reviewing and approving courses either because they share the anti-Zionist political perspective of the proselytizing instructors and faculty and condone the promotion of that perspective in the classroom, or because they hope to avoid the controversy that rejecting the courses could initiate.

On at least four UC campuses, entire departments are dominated by faculty who have publicly endorsed a boycott of Israeli universities and scholars, and several department chairs and program directors have publicly endorsed an academic boycott of Israel. These departments have misused academic programming on their campuses to promote the political program of BDS.

We firmly believe in and strongly support the protections provided by the Constitution’s First Amendment for extramural expression by all university faculty members, even their right to express opinions and support causes that we find morally reprehensible or even antisemitic. We object, however, when faculty members use their university positions and taxpayer resources to recruit for an antisemitic political movement, indoctrinate their students to support the elimination of the Jewish state, or allow their colleagues to do so. As the UC-wide Committee on Academic Freedom has made abundantly clear, professors “who abuse their position to indoctrinate students cannot claim the protection of academic freedom.”

The effects of this abuse extend beyond corruption of the academic mission. Recent studies show that anti-Zionist expression, particularly the promotion of BDS, whether found on the campus quad or in the lecture hall, is strongly correlated with acts of anti-Jewish hostility, including assault, harassment, discrimination, suppression of speech, and displays of antisemitic graffiti and flyers (such as those seen recently at UC- Berkeley). Tellingly, these studies also show a very strong correlation between faculty who have endorsed an academic boycott of Israel and acts of anti-Jewish hostility. Schools with one or more faculty boycotters are four times more likely to be the scene of incidents targeting Jewish students for harm.

In 2014, your office issued two statements reaffirming that faculty and student instructors are bound by the Regents Policy on Course Content. However, as evidenced by the recent examples at UC-Berkeley and UC-Riverside, it is clear that the Regents Policy is being disregarded on UC campuses. And, with the notable exception of Dean Carla Hesse at UC-Berkeley, it seems that UC administrators are not reminding faculty of the vital importance of safeguarding academic freedom from abuse and of the faculty’s obligation to be diligent in enforcing the Regents policy.

Therefore, we urge you to take the following steps:

1. Issue a statement that describes and re-asserts the Regents Policy on Course Content and the UC Policy on Academic Freedom (APM 010), and that clarifies that the “advance of personal interest” and “political indoctrination” constitutes serious misuse of the classroom.

2. Charge each of the UC Chancellors with urging their respective academic senates to ensure that all courses are explicitly and carefully evaluated for their compliance with the standards of academic propriety as spelled out in the Regents Policy on Course Content.

Thank you for your attention to this matter. We look forward to hearing from you.


The Undersigned 47 Groups and 176 Faculty Members 

Academic Council for Israel
Accuracy in Academia
Aggies for Israel
Alpha Epsilon Pi Fraternity (AEPi)
Alums for Campus Fairness
AMCHA Initiative
American Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists
American Institute for Jewish Research
Americans for Peace and Tolerance
American Truth Project
BEAR: Bias Education, Advocacy & Resources
Chabad Jewish Student Group at UC Berkeley
Club Z
Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA)
Davis Faculty for Israel
Eagles Wings
Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET)
Fuel For Truth
Hasbara Fellowships
Institute for Black Solidarity with Israel
Iranian American Jewish Federation
Israeli-American Council (IAC)
Israel Peace Initiative (IPI)
JAM – Jewish Awareness Movement
Jerusalem U
Jews Indigenous to the Middle East and North Africa (JIMENA)
Middle East Forum
National Conference on Jewish Affairs
National Council of Young Israel
Middle East Political and Information Network (MEPIN)
Proclaiming Justice to the Nations
Scholars for Peace in the Middle East
Simon Wiesenthal Center
Stop BDS on Campus
Students and Parents Against Campus Anti-Semitism
Students Supporting Israel
Students Supporting Israel at UC Irvine
Students Supporting Israel at UCLA
Students Supporting Israel at UC Santa Barbara
The Israel Christian Nexus
The Israel Group
The Shofar Project
Zionist Organization of America


* indicates faculty at a University of California campus 

* Alex Groisman, UC San Diego, Associate Professor of Physics 
Alexander Kogan, Rutgers University, Professor 
* Alexander Shukolyukov PhD, UC San Diego, Project Scientist 
* Alexei A. Maradudin, UC Irvine, Research Professor 
* Alvin Sokolow, UC Davis, Emeritus 
Amalia Kessler, Stanford University, Professor 
* Amina Harris, UC Davis, Director, Honey and Pollination Center 
* Ana Kasirer-Friede, UC San Diego, Project Scientist 
Andrea Greenbaum, Barry University, Professor 
* Andrew Lowy, UC San Diego, Professor 
* Andrew Viterbi, UC San Diego Dept. of Electrical & Computer Engineering, Professor Emeritus 
* Arnold Felsenfeld MD, UC Los Angeles, Professor of Medicine Emeritus 
* Avi Yagil, UC San Diego, Professor 
* Barbara Weiser MD, UC Davis School of Medicine, Professor Emeritus 
Barry R. Chiswick, George Washington University, Professor 
* Barry Weissman, UC Los Angeles, Professor Emeritus 
* Benjamin Grinstein, UC San Diego, Distinguished Professor and Departmental Chair 
* Boaz Arzi, UC Davis, Associate Professor 
* Brian Kaye, UC San Francisco, Clinical Professor of Medicine 
* Brian Keating, UC San Diego, Professor 
Bruce A Phillips, University of Southern California & Hebrew Union College, Professor 
Bruno Chaouat, University of Minnesota, Professor 
Carmel Chiswick, George Washington University, Research Professor 
* Daniel Arovas, UC San Diego, Professor of Physics 
* Daniel Cole, UC Los Angeles, Associate Professor 
* Daniel J.B. Mitchell, UC Los Angeles, Professor Emeritus 
* Daniel Neuhauser, UC Los Angeles, Professor 
Daniel Palanker, Stanford University, Professor 
* Daniel Selden, UC Santa Cruz, Professor 
Daphne Desser, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Professor 
* David Bensimon, UC Los Angeles, Professor 
* David C. Rapoport, UC Los Angeles, Professor Emeritus 
* David Feifel, UC San Diego, Professor 
* David Goodblatt, UC San Diego, Professor 
* David H. Gershuni, UC San Diego, Professor Emeritus 
* David Kleinfeld, UC San Diego, Distinguished Professor 
* David Kliger, UC Santa Cruz, Professor Emeritus 
David Orzech PhD, San Francisco State University, Professor Emeritus 
David Patterson, University of Texas at Dallas, Professor 
* David Savar MD FACS, UC Los Angeles, Associate Professor 
* Dennis Carson, UC San Diego, Professor 
Dennis Rutledge, George Mason University, Professor 
Dr. Bernice Stone, California State University, Fresno, Professor 
* Dr. Ivan Schuller, UC San Diego, Distinguished Professor 
Dr. Jonathan Roth, San Jose State University, Professor 
Dr. Robert O. Freedman, Johns Hopkins University, Visiting Professor 
* Edward Rabin, UC Davis, School of Law, Professor of Law Emeritus 
* Edwin M. Epstein, UC Berkeley, Professor Emeritus 
* Ehud Greenspan, UC Berkeley, Professor of the Graduate School 
* Eli Yablonovitch, UC Berkeley, Professor 
* Elijah Polak, UC Berkeley, Professor Emeritus 
Ellen Cannon, Northeastern Illinois University, Professor of Political Science and Public Administration 
Elliott Bloom, Stanford University, Professor Emeritus 
* Eric Gans, UC Los Angeles, Distinguished Professor Emeritus 
* Ethan Miller, UC Santa Cruz, Professor & Veritas Presidential Chair in Storage 
* Eyal Raz, UC San Diego, Professor of Medicine 
* Flor Feldman, UC Berkeley Extension, Mathematics Instructor 
Franck Salameh, Boston College, Associate Professor of Near Eastern Studies 
* Fred Milstein, UC Santa Barbara, Professor Emeritus 
* Gabe Vorobiof MD FACC FASE, UC Los Angeles, David Geffen School of Medicine, Associate Professor 
Gabriel Brahm, Northern Michigan University, Associate Professor 
* Gary Fouse, UC Irvine Department of Continuing Ed, Adjunct Lecturer 
* Guershon Harel, UC San Diego, Professor 
H. C. Tenenbaum DDS Dip. Perio. PhD FRCD(C), University of Toronto, Tel Aviv University, Professor 
* Harold Burger, UC Davis, Professor of Medicine Emeritus 
* Harry Pellman MD, UC Irvine, Clinical Professor of Pediatrics 
* Harry Rubin, UC Berkeley, Professor 
* Howard Taras, UC San Diego, Professor 
* Ilan Benjamin, UC Santa Cruz, Professor 
* Ilan Roth, UC Berkeley, Retired 
* Ira Monosson, UC Los Angeles and University of Southern California, Asst Clinical Professor, Emeritus 
Irving Biederman, University of Southern California, Professor 
Itzhak Bars, University of Southern California, Professor 
J. Edward Wright, University of Arizona, Professor 
* Jack F. Kirsch, UC Berkeley, Professor of the Graduate school 
* Jascha Kessler, UC Los Angeles, Professor 
* Jason Sicklick, UC San Diego School of Medicine, Associate Professor 
Jay D. Amsterdam MD, University of Pennsylvania, Professor Emeritus 
* Jay Rosenheim, UC Davis, Professor 
Jeffrey D. Ullman, Stanford University, Professor of Computer Science Emeritus 
Jeffrey Herf, University of Maryland, College Park, Distinguished University Professor 
* Jeffrey Jacobs, UC Los Angeles, Director of Psychological Services 
Jeffrey Koseff, Stanford University, Professor 
John Riskind, George Mason University, Professor 
John Rothmann, University of San Francisco, Fromm Institute, Professor 
* Jon Schuller, UC Santa Barbara, Professor 
* Joseph L. Witztum MD, UC San Diego, Distinguished Professor of Medicine 
* Joshua Feder MD, UC San Diego, Associate Clinical Professor 
* Judea Pearl, UC Los Angeles, Professor 
* Karen L. Fox-Asraf, UC Irvine Extension, Academic Appointee, Retired 
Karen Petersen, Middle Tennessee State University, Interim Dean of Liberal Arts & Professor 
Kent Harber, Rutgers University at Newark, Professor 
* Larry Yelowitz, UC Irvine, Professor Emeritus 
* Leeka Kheifets, UC Los Angeles, Professor 
* Leila Beckwith, UC Los Angeles, Professor Emeritus 
Leonard Saxe, Brandeis University, Professor 
Linda Zwang-Weissman, Santa Monica College, Adjunct Professor 
* Louis Bouchard, UC Los Angeles, Associate Professor 
Louis Steinberg, Rutgers University, Associate Professor 
* Marc Lerner, UC Irvine, Clinical Professor 
* Marci Reiss, UC San Diego, Lecturer, Staff 
Mark Levine, University of Denver, Professor 
* Marvin Alkin, UC Los Angeles, Professor Emeritus / Research Professor 
* Melvin Scheinman, UC San Francisco, Professor 
Mervin F. Verbit, Touro College and University System, Professor 
* Michael J Saxton, UC Davis, Research Chemist Emeritus 
* Michael Kaback MD, UC San Diego School of Medicine, Professor Pediatrics & Reproductive Medicine 
* Michael Pollak, UC Riverside, Professor Emeritus 
Michael Rockland, Rutgers University, Professor of American Studies 
Michael Schuffler, University of Washington, Professor Emeritus 
Miriam Bailin, Washington University in St. Louis, Professor of English 
Miriam Elman, Syracuse University, Associate Professor 
Mohammed Al-Azdee, University of Bridgeport (UB), Associate Professor, Chair Mass Communication 
Monica Osborne, Pepperdine University, Visiting Assistant Professor 
* Morton Denn, UC Berkeley, Professor of Chemical Engineering Emeritus 
* Neil Levine MD, UC San Diego, Professor 
Nina Sabghir, York College, Assistant Professor 
Nir Yakoby, Rutgers University, Associate Professor 
* Nora Laiken PhD, UC San Diego School of Medicine, Lecturer, Asst. Dean Educational Support Services 
* Norma Landau, UC Davis, Professor Emerita 
Ofer Ben-Amots, Colorado College, Professor and Department Chair 
P. Darin Payne, University of Hawaii, Associate Professor 
* Pamela Cosman, UC San Diego, Professor, Associate Dean for Students 
* Paul J. Feldstein, UC Irvine, Professor of Health Care Management and Policy, Emeritus 
Peter Golden, Rutgers University, Professor Emeritus 
Philip Carl Salzman, McGill University, Professor of Anthropology 
* Philip Lubin, UC Santa Barbara, Professor of Physics 
R. Amy Elman, Kalamazoo College, Professor 
* Ralph Brindis MD MPH, UC San Francisco, Clinical Professor of Medicine 
* Ralph Lachman MD, UC Los Angeles and Stanford University, Professor Emeritus/Clinical Professor 
Ralph Rabkin, Stanford University, Professor of Medicine Emeritus 
* Raphael Zidovetzki, UC Riverside, Professor  
* Raya Feldman, UC Santa Barbara, Associate Professor 
* Richard Kaner, UC Los Angeles, Professor 
Robert B. Levy, University of Miami, Professor 
Robert Friedmann, Georgia State University, Professor Emeritus 
* Robert H. Cole, UC Berkeley, Professor of Law Emeritus 
Robert Levine, Ohio State University, Professor of Linguistics 
Robert Phillips, Ball State University, Professor 
* Robert Winer, UC Irvine College of Medicine, Adjunct Professor of Medicine, Retired 
* Robert Zeiger, UC San Diego, Clinical Professor Pediatrics 
* Robin Morris, UC Santa Cruz, Associate Adjunct Professor 
Ronald Mehler, California State University, Northridge, Professor 
* Russ Kino, UC Los Angeles, Assistant Professor Medicine 
* Ruth Covell, UC San Diego, Clinical Professor 
Ruth Weisberg, University of Southern California, Professor 
Samuel Edelman, University of Miami, Miller Center Fellow and Adjunct Professor 
Sandor Reichman, California State University, Northridge, Professor of Chemistry Emeritus 
Sara Reguer, Brooklyn College, Professor/Chair 
* Sarale Cohen, UC Los Angeles, Professor Emeritus 
* Sheldon Rothblatt, UC Berkeley, Professor Emeritus 
* Sheldon Wolf, UC Los Angeles, Professor 
* Shimon Weiss, UC Los Angeles, Distinguished Professor 
* Sonia Ancoli-Israel, UC San Diego, Professor Emeritus 
Spencer Pack, Connecticut College, Professor of Economics 
* Stanley Brandes, UC Berkeley, Professor 
Stanley Dubinsky, University of South Carolina, Professor of Linguistics 
Stanley Messer, Rutgers University, Distinguished Professor 
* Stephen C. Bondy, UC Irvine, Professor 
* Stephen White, UC Davis, Professor 
* Steven P. Segal, UC Berkeley, School of Social Welfare, Professor of the Graduate Division 
* Steven Schwartz, UC Los Angeles, Assistant Professor 
* Steven Tadelis, UC Berkeley, Professor 
* Steven Weinbaum, UC Davis, Professor Emeritus 
* Stuart Schweitzer, UC Los Angeles, Professor 
Susan Trencher, George Mason University, Professor 
* Svetlana Jitomirskaya, UC Irvine, Professor 
* Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, UC Santa Cruz, Lecturer 
* Vladimir Mandelshtam, UC Irvine, Professor 
Wendy Mulcahy, CSU Chico, Faculty 
* William Newman, UC Los Angeles, Professor 
* William Schwartz MD, UC San Francisco, Clinical Professor of Medicine, Retired 
Yakov Eliashberg, Stanford University, Professor 
* Yehuda Bock, UC San Diego, Distinguished Researcher 
* Yitzhak Tor, UC San Diego, Professor 
 Zev bar-Lev, San Diego State University, Professor Emeritus 

Cc:  UC Regents
UC Chancellors
Regent Eddie Island, Chair Academic and Student Affairs Committee UC Board of Regents
Aimee Dorr, UC Provost and Executive Vice President
Carla Hesse, Executive Dean of the College of Letters and Science
Robert L. Powell, Chair Academic Senate UC Berkeley
Senator Carol Liu, Chair California Senate Standing Committee on Education
Assembly Member Jose Medina, Chair California Assembly Higher Education Committee
Assembly Member Shirley Weber, Chair Assembly Select Committee on Campus Climate
Senator Marty Block, Chair California Legislative Jewish Caucus

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