The following statement by academics and activists, including members of the Organizing Collective of the US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, was issued in support of students at the University of California, Davis, who successfully passed a resolution for divestment in support of Palestinian human rights in their university student senate on January 30. Following the victory of the students’ campaign, Chancellor Linda Katehi issued a statement censuring the student government’s decision. This statement comes to support the students’ campaign and reject all forms of silencing and censorship being used against Palestinian, Arab and solidarity organizers speaking for Palestine on campus:
Dear Chancellor Katehi, Provost Hexter, and Executive Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs de la Torre:
We write to share the below statement with you, which we will be publicly circulating.
We congratulate SJP-Davis and the student senate at UC Davis for passing the historic divestment resolution in support of justice for Palestinians. However, the administration’s repression and distortions in the media of the rousing BDS victory at UC Davis are disgraceful postures we are familiar with by now as forms of backlash against the increasingly successful campus movement for BDS grows across the US. A statement of censure was sent by the Chancellor of UC-Davis immediately after the successful vote in the student government to divest from Israel. Students for Justice in Palestine was rebuked despite the fact that SJP was following all the democratic processes of student governance. As in Professor Steven Salaita’s case, the nebulous excuse of “civility” reared its head to disguise a double standard that, in the US academy, seems to be deployed frequently and systematically against those who speak up against the Israeli government. Wrote Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi:
“We recognize that this is a sensitive topic for many on our campus, one that is very personal and emotional. It is for this reason that we must exercise sensitivity, restraint and respect in relation to the issue. Prior to the debate last night, those in attendance were reminded of our Principles of Community. We affirmed the right to freedom of expression, but also affirmed our commitment to the highest standards of civility and decency toward all.”
Chancellor Katehi calls for “respect” and “decency” while at the same time disrespecting and disregarding a grassroots, anti-racist student movement made up of a diverse coalition of students calling for global justice. The double standard university administrators continue to use when it comes to the issue of justice for Palestinians in Palestine/Israel is deplorable.
In condemning the divestment resolution, not only is the UC-Davis administration flouting the democratic process of campus governance, it is also undermining the admirable work and courageous organizing of students who are speaking up against an ideology (Zionism) based on terror and land-grabbing and the long-standing oppression of Palestinians. The academic, economic, and scientific development of Palestinian society is strangled by Israel’s occupation and racist policies and the university ought to consider projects that could be led by UC Davis to promote Palestinian development in these areas, given the Chancellor’s stated commitment “to academic and research programs across the globe.”
In fact, Palestinian academics and civil society groups have called for a boycott of Israeli academic institutions that are complicit with the occupation, yet UC Davis partners with an institution that is perhaps among the most egregious, Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, which produces research and technologies that enable the illegal military occupation of Palestine: http://www.arcadiabio.com/news/press-release/arcadia-biosciences-university-california-davis-and-technion-announce-grant-key. Technion is a leading manufacturer of weapons and defense systems that have been used to kill civilians in Lebanon and the Occupied Palestinian Territories:
http://electronicintifada.net/blogs/nora/palestinian-boycott-campaign-end-cornells-collaboration-technion. We also point out that the collaboration of UC Davis with Technion is in violation of the guidelines for academic boycott of Israel: http://www.arcadiabio.com/news/press-release/arcadia-biosciences-university-california-davis-and-technion-announce-grant-key. If your real interest is fostering improved human relationships we urge UC Davis to end formal partnerships with institutions responsible for the deaths of innocent people.
SJP is on the right side of history. The engaged students the university administration has censured have chosen to withdraw their complicity with Israel’s apartheid policies and war crimes. Palestinian and Arab Americans are all part of the university community and their lives, and the lives of Palestinians and Arabs overseas, matter too.
University of Toronto
Albert G. Milbank Professor of International Law, Emeritus
Research Fellow, Orfalea Center for Global Studies
UC Santa Barbara
Department of English
University of Hawai”i
American University in Cairo
Salah D. Hassan
Department of English
Michigan State University
Labor for Palestine
Former President, Association of Legal Aid Attorneys/UAW 2325
Professor of English
University of California, Riverside
University of New Mexico
Bill V. Mullen
American Studies and English
University of Illinois at Chicago
Al-Quds University, Palestine
Malini Johar Schueller,
University of Florida