Support CSU Faculty Rights to Endorse the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel
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On Friday, January 31, the Office of the Chancellor of the California University System issued a statement from Chancellor Timothy P. White denouncing the Asian American Studies Association, American Studies Association, and Native American Studies Association resolutions endorsing the 2005 call by Palestinian academics, artists, and organizations calling for an Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (ACBI).
“The California State University denounces the resolution calling for an academic boycott of the higher education institutions in Israel, which was issued by the American Studies Association and has been supported by other organizations. Academic boycotts violate the basic tenets of higher education including academic freedom and scholarly dialog. Boycotts attempt to limit the unfettered creation, discovery and dissemination of knowledge vital to our tripartite mission of research, teaching and service. These characteristics are essential to preparing students with the analytical and critical thinking skills to lead in business, community, educational and civic organizations.” (http://www.amchainitiative.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/ASAResolutionFINAL.pdf)
The statement is “strongly support[ed]” by Leslie E. Wong, President of San Francisco State University, as announced on the SFSU Office of the President website, reading: “Position on the ASA Boycott Resolution: I strongly support the following statement from CSU Chancellor Timothy P. White regarding the ASA's boycott resolution” (http://president.sfsu.edu/president/position-asa-boycott-resolution).
The CSU Office of the Chancellor, and the SFSU Office of the President, repeats common refrains by university administrations against ACBI by claiming that boycotts violate the values on which higher education is built and so undermine the university’s core mission and values, deny the rights of faculty to academic freedom, are a form of censorship, and interfere with student learning. These common reactions dismiss, however, the international human rights accords and judgments regarding Israel’s occupation of Palestine, including the rights of Palestinians to education and cultural exchange, as well as the specifics of ACBI’s call in relation to US academic institutions and their faculty and students. Some quick clarifications:
1) The United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, the United Nations Committee on Human Rights, and the International Court of Justice have identified Israel’s relationship to Palestine as that of an “apartheid regime,” characterized by a 30-foot security wall around the West Bank and the barriers around the Gaza Strip as well as by Jewish-only settlements and roads, a discriminatory water and utility system, the use of identification cards, the egregious restrictions of travel, the denial of marriage and other civil rights, exploitative labor practices, and the lack of medical services.
2) The Right to Education Campaign in Palestine has documented the repeated repression, criminalization, and violence against Palestinian faculty, students, and cultural producers (artists, performers, etc.). Israel greatly restricts Palestinian academics and cultural producers from travel, performance, and funding opportunities that make it near impossible for them to conduct research, present papers, or practice their art in Palestine, Israel, and abroad.
3) ACBI calls for a boycott of academic institutions, not individual faculty or cultural producers. As long as individuals are not officially representing an Israeli institution—academic, military, or government—they are welcome to participate in academic exchanges, public talks, and conferences.
The CSU Office of the Chancellor’s statement does not represent us as CSU faculty.
We affirm our support of ACBI and encourage other academics and cultural producers to follow with resolutions like that of AASA, ASA, and NAISA.
Rabab Abdulhadi, San Francisco State University
Joanne Barker, San Francisco State University
Luz Calvo, CSU East Bay
Falu Bakrania, San Francisco State University
Jason Ferreira, San Francisco State University
Andrew Jolivette, San Francisco State University
Catrióna Rueda Esquibel, San Francisco State University
John-Carlos Perea, San Francisco State University
Information about ACBI and BDS: http://www.bdsmovement.net
The Right To Education Campaign in Palestine: http://www.right2edu.org
Who Profits: The Israeli Occupation Industry: http://www.whoprofits.org
The American Studies Association answers to frequently asked questions about the boycott: http://www.theasa.net/images/uploads/ASA_Boycott_FAQs.pdf
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