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Petition: Tell University Leaders the Academic Boycott of Israel Hurts Our Students

"I didn't think it would happen again...This is an epidemic that's starting." - Jake, a University of Michigan student denied a letter of recommendation to study abroad in Israel due to the academic boycott

Following alarming reports of faculty members at the University of Michigan and elsewhere intentionally undermining the ability of students to study in and about Israel, we, the undersigned stakeholders, are calling on university leaders across the nation to prevent the implementation of an academic boycott of Israel that directly impedes students’ rights.

We urge academic leaders at institutions of higher education across the U.S. to sign the University Leaders Statement Against the Implementation of an Academic Boycott of Israel (below).  

University Leaders Statement Against the Implementation of an Academic Boycott of Israel

Individual faculty members and students have the free speech right to declare their public approval of an academic boycott of Israel. However, we are concerned at the prospect of some individuals on our campuses actually proceeding to implement an academic boycott by complying with the 2014 guidelines of the Palestinian Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI). Implementing these guidelines will not only inflict serious harm on Israeli academic institutions, but on faculty and students at our own schools as well.

Among a wide range of recommended practices, PACBI guidelines specifically urge members of the academic community “to boycott and/or work towards the cancellation or annulment of events, activities, agreements, or projects involving Israeli academic institutes or that otherwise promote the normalization of Israel in the global academy…or violate the BDS guidelines.” Were faculty or students on our campuses to fully implement these guidelines, they would be engaging in activities that directly and substantively harm their own students and colleagues, including:

  • Undermining a faculty member’s collaborative research or teaching projects with Israeli universities and scholars;
  • Interfering with the equal non-discriminatory treatment of all applicants for admissions to graduate programs;
  • Disrupting and shutting down events featuring Israeli leaders or scholars organized by their colleagues or students;
  • Working toward the closure of their own university’s study abroad programs in Israel; and
  • Refusing to write letters of recommendation for their students who want to pursue studies in Israel.

All of these actions to implement academic boycotts of Israel subvert the scholarly and educational opportunities or curtail the academic freedom of colleagues and students who are members of our own campus communities. Some of the action above, along with other forms of personal assault, are carried out by students as well. Treating one’s own students or one’s student or faculty colleagues as collateral damage to a political agenda is wrong and violates the principles of collegiality and academic integrity central to our institutions. We condemn such behavior in the strongest terms.
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3. Are You Signing as a Stakeholder of a College/University or a Supportive Member of the Public?
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