Following Pitzer College President Melvin Oliver’s courageous move, anti-Israel student activists began circulating a petition condemning him, which has already garnered several hundred signatures.
U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib (Mich.), a Democratic party congresswoman and promoter of the BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) movement against Israel, came out recently in support of a move by anti-Israel faculty members at Pitzer College in Claremont, California, to end its study-abroad partnership with the University of Haifa.
Last week, the Pitzer College Council, which includes both faculty and students, voted to suspend cooperation with the Israeli university, but college president Melvin L. Oliver said that he would not follow through on the recommendation.
Leading the BDS effort was Professor Daniel Segal, an anthropology and history professor.
The anti-Israel motion would mean boycotting an Israeli university where 35 percent of the students are Arabs.
“We have Jews and Arab faculty and students coexisting, and this seems to contradict the narrative about Israel as an apartheid state,” said University of Haifa President Ron Robin, adding that he would like to see his institute as “a microcosm of what Israeli society could look like.”
When the motion passed, Robin wrote: “While such proponents of the BDS movement in the academic community utilize a free speech argument to justify boycotts of Israeli institutions, those who support these votes at Pitzer are actually undermining academic freedom and free speech by depriving students of their freedom to choose where to study abroad.”
In vetoing the motion, Oliver said that “under the College’s system of shared governance, the motion is a recommendation to the president of the College. As president of Pitzer College, I have determined that I will not implement this recommendation.”
Oliver stressed that the institute of higher learning should not take sides in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
“I am refusing to permit Pitzer College to take a position that I believe will only harm the college,” he stated.
Following Oliver’s courageous move, anti-Israel student activists have circulated a petition condemning the college president, which has already received several hundred signatures nationwide.
Encourage the Pitzer College president to continue to stand by his convictions. Tell him that you stand with him in support of academic freedom!
Contact Dr. Melvin Oliver and urge him to implement his veto of the BDS motion!
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