Letter to UC President Napolitano Regarding UAW2865
To: UC President Napolitano
August 12, 2014
Dear President Napolitano,
We represent 12 organizations deeply concerned with the serious and growing problem of hate-filled rhetoric about Israel that sometimes rises to the level of antisemitism on campuses across the country, including at the University of California.
As you may be aware, the 83-member joint council of UAW 2865, representing all of the TA’s, tutors and readers at the 9 teaching campuses of the University of California, issued a statement outlining the union’s intent to support the anti-Israel and antisemitic Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, and to seek a full-membership vote on the statement this coming year.
While we support the right of every member of UAW 2865 to exercise his or her freedom of speech outside of the instructional setting, we are greatly concerned that these union members, who are responsible for instructing undergraduate students on 9 UC campuses, will bring their unscholarly, politically-motivated and antisemitic propaganda and advocacy into UC classrooms, where it certainly does not belong.
Alarmingly, the union leadership itself contends that as “educators”, union members not only have the right to voice their antisemitic political opinions on the campus, but the responsibility to “educate” others about them:
“We have a responsibility as educators to both learn about and teach the social issues of our time, including pressing global struggles such as the struggle of the Palestinian people for liberation from settler-colonialism and apartheid.”
Teaching undergraduate students one-sided propaganda which falsely alleges that Israel is a “settler colonial” and “apartheid” state worthy of elimination and promoting an antisemitic boycott of Israel do not constitute education but unabashed political indoctrination, which is expressly forbidden by the UC Regents in their Policy on Course Content (also known as the Regents Policy on Academic Freedom):
“[The Regents] are responsible to see that the University remain aloof from politics and never function as an instrument for the advance of partisan interest. Misuse of the classroom by, for example, allowing it to be used for political indoctrination… constitutes misuse of the University as an institution.”
Moreover, if TA’s, tutors and readers feel free to “teach” anti-Israel propaganda and promote BDS to their undergraduates, it can’t help but create a hostile, antisemitic environment for many Jewish students, who have already reported in the UC Jewish Student Campus Climate Report that campus-based BDS activities “project hostility, engender a feeling of isolation, and undermine Jewish students’ sense of belonging and engagement.” Other Jewish students on UC campuses have described feeling “continuously intimidated” and “repeatedly threatened,” and that their personal and mental well-being, and even their physical safety, were jeopardized as a result of BDS campaigns on their campuses.
As UC President, you are responsible for ensuring that all University policies and rules are properly enforced, and that all students — including Jewish students — feel safe and supported on their UC campuses. We therefore urge you to do the following:
- Publicly reaffirm the UC Regents Policy on Course Content and describe how you intend to enforce that policy in the coming academic year.
- Provide public assurances that you will not allow UAW 2865 members to promote hateful antisemitic propaganda or the boycott of Israel as part of their contractual teaching responsibilities at the University of California.
- Instruct the University’s collective bargaining representatives to deny and resist any UAW Local 2865 proposals which seek to inject their biased and improper position on relations with Israel into the University’s dealings with the UAW and the individuals whom the UAW claims to speak for.
- Vigorously oppose any effort or proposal from UAW Local 2865 that any pension fund provided by the University for its employees adhere to any policies of divestment or boycott of businesses that directly or indirectly have business, cultural or academic relations with Israel, and its citizens and institutions of both its Government and civil society.
Thank you in advance for your attention to this serious and urgent matter. We look forward to hearing from you soon.
Americans for Peace and Tolerance
Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law
Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America
Institute for Black Solidarity with Israel
Proclaiming Justice to the Nations
Scholars for Peace in the Middle East
Simon Wiesenthal Center
The Lawfare Project
Zionist Organization of America
Cc: UC Regents
UC Vice President for Human Resources Dwaine Duckett
California Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson
California Senator Carol Liu, Chair of the Senate Standing Committee on Education
California Assembly Member Das Williams, Chair of the Assembly Committee on Higher Education
California Assembly Member Shirley Weber, Chair of the Select Committee on Campus Climate
California Senator Marty Block, Chair of Legislative Jewish Caucus
California Jewish Community Leaders