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Santa Cruz, CA, April 9, 2024 – AMCHA Initiative Director Tammi Rossman-Benjamin issued the following statement today in response to Pitzer College’s removal of the study abroad program at the University of Haifa in Israel from its list of pre-approved programs, following a years-long antisemitic academic boycott campaign carried out by Pitzer students and faculty:

We are deeply troubled by Pitzer College's tolerance for - if not total capitulation to - the virulently antisemitic academic boycott of Israel campaign (academic BDS), whose explicit goal is to purge campuses of Zionism and Zionists, a campaign redolent of Nazi Germany and its successful purge of Jewish students and faculty from its universities. The enormous threat of academic BDS is not that it will lead to shutting down a study abroad program, but that its implementation creates an intolerably hostile and unsafe campus for anyone who supports Israel or Jewish self-determination.

Long before Pitzer’s recent decision to close down its Haifa program, anti-Zionist students and faculty launched aggressive efforts to implement academic BDS at Pitzer, using the campus square and classroom to demonize, delegitimize and call for the destruction of the Jewish state, and to vilify, bully, exclude and suppress its on-campus supporters, especially Jewish students. Against the backdrop of such behavior, how could any Pitzer student feel safe attending an Israel-abroad program, taking classes or doing research about Israel, or even simply expressing support for Israel?

Pitzer administrators who have allowed this antisemitic campaign to unfold on their watch can simply not be trusted to keep Jewish students safe on their campus. Pitzer parents, alumni, donors and prospective students should be advised, and act accordingly. 

College and university leaders, too, would do well to understand that what happened at Pitzer could easily happen on their campuses as well. They must immediately establish robust safeguards to ensure that an academic boycott of Israel may never be implemented at their schools.

Although Pitzer administrators claim that the Haifa study abroad program was suspended because of low enrollment, they had recently come under enormous pressure from anti-Zionist students, faculty, alumni, and outside organizations to close the program in compliance with an international academic boycott of Israel campaign.

Similar attempts by students and faculty in 2018-2019 to shut down the Haifa study abroad program in compliance with the academic boycott of Israel campaign were vetoed by then-Pitzer President Melvin Oliver.

The guidelines of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI), which informed the efforts to shut down Pitzer’s Haifa study abroad program, call for boycotting educational programs in or about Israel and canceling or shutting down pro-Israel events and activities, as well as encourage the denigration, protest and exclusion of pro-Israel individuals — all activities that can have a devastating impact on students and faculty who want to study in or about Israel, or who identify with the Jewish state.

AMCHA Initiative’s studies have consistently found a strong correlation between BDS activity and acts of antisemitic assault, harassment and vandalism on campuses nationwide.

AMCHA Initiative is a non-partisan, non-profit organization dedicated to combating antisemitism at colleges and universities in the United States. The organization monitors more than 600 campuses for antisemitic activity, as defined by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) and the U.S. government. AMCHA is not a pro-Israel advocacy organization, nor does it take a position on current or past Israeli government policies; criticism of Israel that does not meet the IHRA and U.S. government criteria is not considered antisemitic by the organization. AMCHA has recorded more than 6,000 antisemitic incidents on college campuses since 2015 which can be accessed through its Antisemitism Tracker.

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