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PRESS RELEASE: Pitzer Vote 3.14.19

AMCHA Statement on Pitzer Vote to End Study Abroad in Israel

Contact: Nicole Rosen

Santa Cruz, CA, March 14, 2019 – Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, AMCHA Initiative’s co-founder and director, issued the following statement:

“What happened today at Pitzer is an academic abomination.  Prioritizing politics over students is reprehensible, but sadly, the Pitzer College Council did just that. Academic boycotts violate the rights of students and faculty on U.S. campuses, and this precedent-setting vote is frightening. Fortunately, the buck stops with Pitzer President Oliver who clearly understands this.   As he stated back in November, ‘To deny Pitzer students who want to study at Haifa University the opportunity to study abroad and to enter into dialogue and promote intercultural understanding at the altar of political considerations is anathema to Pitzer’s core values’ and would ‘foolishly alienate Jewish and non-Jewish constituents.’ Oliver also questioned why Pitzer should cancel its study abroad programs in Israel when there are other countries with contentious issues in which Pitzer has study abroad programs. ‘China currently has 1 million Muslims imprisoned in re-education camps.  Why would we not suspend our program with China?’ questioned Oliver.  ‘Or take our longest standing program in Nepal where the Pitzer in Nepal program has been run for over 40 years.  During that time they have had a bloody civil war that killed 19,000 people.  Why Israel?’  The Pitzer professors who orchestrated this move should be ashamed of themselves for promoting a reprehensible and hypocritical boycott that tramples on the academic rights and educational opportunities of their own students and colleagues in the name of politics, and goes against everything a university and its faculty should stand for.”

Following attempts by faculty at the University of Michigan and Pitzer College to implement academic BDS, AMCHA launched an anti-academic boycott campaign. The organization has been leading a diverse group of 101 civil rights, religious, education, faculty and student groups spanning the political left, right and center and mobilizing a grassroots effort that calls on university presidents to recognize and condemn an academic boycott that violates the academic freedom and educational opportunities of U.S. students. Since AMCHA launched its campaign, the 10 chancellors of the University of California put out a strong statement to all UC faculty and the entire UC community condemning the academic boycott and recognizing the “direct and serious threat” it poses to UC students and faculty.

AMCHA monitors more than 400 college campuses across the U.S. for anti-Semitic activity. It is the only organization that documents incidents in real time on its website for the public.  AMCHA recorded 469 known anti-Semitic incidents in 2015, 639 in 2016, 652 in 2017, 694 in 2018, and 78 so far in 2019. Its daily Anti-Semitism Tracker, organized by state and university, can be viewed here.

AMCHA’s research has shown that schools with faculty who support an academic boycott of Israel are five times more likely to have acts of anti-Jewish aggression, including assault, harassment and vandalism.

AMCHA Initiative is a non-partisan, non-profit organization dedicated to combating anti-Semitism at colleges and universities in the United States.

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