The US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel is working with organizations, faculty and students to Boycott Study Abroad in Israel on campuses and communities across the country and around the world. The research overview below provides background information, analysis, specific problematic programs and resources to learn more and help you organize at your school, college or university. Visit the campaign page for more resources and to take the pledge! You can also download our activist toolkit for organizers.
For most American universities and colleges, Study Abroad programs are a revenue-saving component of their operations. Typically, it is cheaper to house and educate students overseas than at home, while equivalent or premium fees are charged for tuition and board. In addition, these options are attractive to students, and, in some cases, the locations offer geographical and cultural opportunities that are not available at home.
In the case of Study Abroad in Israel (SAI), there are political reasons for the proliferation of these programs. Over the last decade, a concerted effort has made, as part of hasbara (the pro-Israel propaganda initiative) by Israeli authorities and allied Zionist organizations to attract and recruit high-profile American varsity names. Beginning in 2010, the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in partnership with Masa and the Jewish Agency, set out to target elite U.S. universities as part of this effort. Delegations of senior officials were invited to Israel, and funding was extended to help these officials explore the establishment of programs. In a sense, these programs are part of Israel’s strategy of “edu-washing” the Occupation and its apartheid regime i.e. using higher education to cover up Israel’s systematic abuses of human rights as well as its violation of the right to education of Palestinians.
Israeli elites, and leaders of allied international Zionist organizations, are well aware that American campuses are a battleground, and that they risk losing the support of a generation of educated youth, and especially young Jews, for the Israeli state. Study Abroad programs in Israel are seen as a complement to Birthright Israel trips for Jewish youth and the Israel Experience in the business of winning hearts and minds. Indeed, they are often marketed to Jewish students as the next step after the short, initial trip offered through Birthright Israel.
Regardless of the motivations behind the establishment of these programs, entry to Israel is increasingly restricted, and many population groups risk being rejected and subjected to interrogation and detention, whether because of student’s ethnic or religious background, or their political orientation. In every instance, these restrictions and the accompanying harassment, including for those targeted by Israel’s travel ban on BDS supporters, are outright violations of the principles of nondiscrimination upheld in every American institution of higher education as well as the principle of freedom of political expression.
In addition, most of these SAI programs are offered in affiliation with an Israeli university, and so they are embedded in Israeli academic institutions and rely, however indirectly, on Israeli state funding. They are complicit with the well-documented research and pedagogical role that these universities play in enabling the occupation, Israel’s apartheid policies, and settlement-building on and theft of Palestinian land, as well as propagating Zionist mythologies and racist narratives about Palestine and Palestinians and censoring Palestinian students. In some cases, these SAI programs also are complicit in state-centered national security, counterterrorism, and policing projects and part of the collaboration between the U.S. and Israel in programs targeting Arabs, Muslims, and communities of color.
Here is a selective list of U.S. colleges and universities that offer Study Abroad programs in Israel. If your college is on the list, then it is out of compliance with campus rules against discrimination, in addition to violating the academic boycott of Israeli institutions. Make a plan to research your school’s program(s) and use the Toolkit resources to challenge its existence.
N.B. Many more campuses (not on this list) offer students access to, or help in enrolling in, existing programs at Israeli universities that welcome international students. If credit earned at these programs is accepted at your school then it is also be in violation.
New York University—Tel Aviv
Georgetown University–Tel Aviv
Case Western Reserve University—Technion
University of Miami—Jerusalem
Barnard College—Ben Gurion, Haifa, Tel Aviv
Harvard University—Hebrew University
George Mason University—Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Tiberias
Emory University, Tel Aviv
University of Chicago—Jerusalem
Dickinson College— Ben Gurion
California State University–Haifa
University of Baltimore—Haifa
University of Pennsylvania—Ben Gurion
Long Island University Post—Ben Gurion
University of Massachusetts–Haifa
Princeton University—Haifa, Tel Aviv
Virginia Commonwealth University—Hebrew
University of Wisconsin-Madison— Hebrew
University of Pittsburgh—Jerusalem, Tel Aviv
Brandeis University—Haifa, Tel Aviv, Ben Gurion
University of Kansas–Tel Aviv,Jerusalem
University of Virginia–Tel Aviv, Jerusalem
Tulane University—Tel Aviv
University of Michigan--Tel Aviv, Jerusalem
Central Washington University–-Eilat
University of Maryland—Tel Aviv
Wesleyan University-–Ben Gurion, Hebrew, Haifa