In light of a recent statement by the UCLA Academic Senate Committee on Academic Freedom approving of a UCLA professor using his class website to promote the academic boycott of Israel, the AMCHA co-founders sent a letter to the UC Regents and other UC and state leaders, urging them to ensure that UC classrooms are not being used to promote anti-Jewish bigotry.
In a letter to Dr. Andrew Leuchter, head of the UCLA Academic Senate, AMCHA co-founders addressed a letter sent to Dr. Leuchter by a group called “California Scholars For Academic Freedom,” which alleged that Dr. Leuchter’s recent statements against the promotion of the boycott of Israel are a violation of academic freedom. AMCHA co-founders showed that the primary concern of CS4AF is not the protection of academic freedom, but rather the protection of academics who wish to exploit the privilege of academic freedom in order to promote an academic boycott of Israel, which, ironically, itself been declared a violation of academic freedom.
The AMCHA Initiative succeeded in eliciting a statement from Dr. Andrew Leuchter, head of the UCLA Academic Senate, regarding the promotion of an anti-Semitic boycott of Israel on a class website. After consulting with top UCLA administrators, he wrote in an email to the AMCHA Initiative that “it is not appropriate for a faculty member to post a political petition on which he is a signatory as part of a course…and that posting of such materials was a serious error in judgment.” Professor Shorter, at the request of Dr. Leuchter, was then counseled by his department chair not to repeat the mistake.
Dr. Leuchter’s statement is an implicit acknowledgement by UC faculty and administration, for the first time, that promoting the boycott of Israel is a political action and therefore subject to state laws and university policies that prohibit the use of public resources for political activities.
The AMCHA Initiative uncovered evidence that a UCLA professor has been using his official class website to promote an anti-Semitic boycott of Israel. AMCHA Initiative co-founders sent UC President Yudof, UCLA Chancellor Block, and leaders of the UC and UCLA Academic Senates the evidence, and posed one simple question to each of them: Is this protected by the UC rules of academic freedom?