The Education Abroad Program (EAP) Equality Coalition, a group of concerned faculty and students at UC Davis, is today presenting a letter endorsed by 389 signatories to Vice Provost William Lacy requesting that the university discontinue its Summer Program in Israel, opened this year. The letter contains both individual signatures and endorsements from organizations such as Teachers Against the Occupation, Arab Resource and Organizing Center and the Jones United Methodist Churches of San Francisco. The letter points out that the Israel program fails to meet the standards embodied in UC Davis’s published Principles of Community, which forbid discrimination on the basis of ethnicity and call for dignity and equality of treatment for all.
Despite assurances of formal security clearances being granted, Arab-American students cannot expect to remain immune to the challenges and problems faced by such persons in daily life in Israel, and would therefore be unable to experience education abroad as a free and open inquiry into and experience of living in another country. Students will not visit Palestinian universities or the occupied territories and will be prevented from gaining any first-hand experience of the appalling conditions of life under occupation: the check-points, the illegal settlements, the ‘security’ wall, the expropriation of Palestinian land and water supplies, the de-facto and (in the case of Gaza) undisguised economic blockade, among other breaches of human rights.
Such trips as are planned for the students will take place under the armed supervision of members of the Israeli Defense Force, the same body that has been responsible for the deaths of over 1500 people in Gaza, as well as for the bombing and destruction of Palestinian homes and public buildings, among them schools and universities. The reopening of the Israel program in the aftermath of the Gaza massacres gives the appearance that UC Davis is at best indifferent to these events or, at worst, willing to endorse Israel’s past and present behavior toward its non-Jewish citizens and neighbors. In the light of these serious concerns the signatories believe that the program should be closed forthwith.