Santa Cruz, CA, September 3 – As students head back to college and begin to pick their classes, AMCHA Initiative today posted on its website a list of 218 professors identifying themselves as Middle East scholars, who recently called for the academic boycott of Israel.
“How can professors who are so biased against the Jewish state accurately or fairly teach students about Israel or the Arab-Israel conflict?” asked Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, AMCHA Initiative co-founder and faculty at the University of California Santa Cruz. “Students who wish to become better educated without subjecting themselves to anti-Israel bias, or possibly even antisemitic rhetoric, may want to check which faculty members from their university are signatories before registering.”
Last month, about 200 professors identifying themselves as “Middle East scholars” on more than 100 U.S. campuses signed a petition calling on their colleagues in Middle East Studies “to boycott Israeli academic institutions,” and pledging “not to collaborate on projects and events involving Israeli academic institutions, not to teach at or to attend conferences and other events at such institutions, and not to publish in academic journals based in Israel.”
“It’s bad enough that these professors have revealed themselves to be wildly biased against one, and only one, Middle Eastern country. Even more troubling, however, is the fact that many of these patently biased boycotters of Israel are affiliated with government-designated, taxpayer-funded National Resource Centers (NRC) on their campuses,” stated Leila Beckwith, AMCHA Initiative cofounder and UCLA emeritus professor. “Clearly NRC-affiliated faculty who have publicly vilified Israel and committed themselves to refusing ‘to collaborate on projects and events involving Israeli institutions’ have violated both the letter and spirit of the federal law which funds their teaching and research.”
Established by Congress under Title VI of the Higher Education Act and administered by the U.S. Department of Education, university-hosted NRCs nationwide receive more than 30 million dollars annually for the purpose of equipping students with a full and unbiased understanding of the regions and countries of the world that are vital to U.S. security interests. These Centers are also required by law to maintain linkages with overseas institutions of higher education that “contribute to the teaching and research of the Center.”
Of the 20 universities that received federal funding to support Middle East Studies NRCs in the 2010 – 2014 grant cycle, faculty affiliated with 16 of them have shown their unambiguous anti-Israel bias by signing the petition to boycott Israeli universities and scholars: Columbia University, Duke University, Georgetown University, George Washington University, Harvard University, New York University, Princeton University, University of California Berkeley, University of California Los Angeles, University of Chicago, University of Michigan Ann Arbor, University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, University of Pennsylvania, University of Texas at Austin, University of Washington Seattle, and Yale University.
A full list of professors who have signed the petition at each U.S. college and university can be found HERE.
AMCHA Initiative is a non-profit organization dedicated to investigating, documenting, educating about, and combating antisemitism at institutions of higher education in America. AMCHA Initiative’s efforts are bolstered by a network of more than 5,000 members and supporters of the Jewish community — including university alumni, parents and grandparents, rabbis, religious school principals and synagogue members — who have joined together to speak in one voice to ensure the safety and well-being of Jewish students on college and university campuses across the country.
Tammi Rossman-Benjamin is a lecturer at the University of California, Santa Cruz and cofounder of the AMCHA Initiative, a non-profit organization that combats campus anti-Semitism.