USACBI salutes Pitzer faculty’s groundbreaking vote to suspend Study Abroad in Israel

USACBI applauds the Pitzer College faculty’s precedent-setting vote to suspend their Study Abroad program at Haifa University. Earlier this year, USACBI launched a national campaign demanding the end of Study Abroad collaborations with Israeli universities on US campuses.  The Pitzer faculty vote is fully in accord with this campaign. Together with their insistence that the Pitzer President and Board of Regents implement students’ divestment resolution, their decisive endorsement of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement provides clear recognition of the pervasive structural racism that Palestinian students endure at the hands of the Israeli state.

Pitzer faculty called for an end to the exchange program “until (a) the Israeli state ends its restrictions on entry to Israel based on ancestry and/or political speech and (b) the Israeli state adopts policies granting visas for exchanges to Palestinian universities on a fully equal basis as it does to Israeli universities.”

As USACBI has argued, to participate in study abroad programs in Israel is to be complicit with the denial of academic freedom to Palestinian students and faculty, who are routinely prevented from teaching and attending classes, conducting research, attending conferences, and receiving scholarships.  Moreover, Israeli universities are complicit with the ongoing Nakba against the Palestinian people: the universities are built on stolen Palestinian land; they maintain discriminatory, anti-Arab and anti-Palestinian curricula; and they conduct the research that animates and sustains the Israeli military and security state apparatuses.

As has been made all too clear by recent events, the Israeli state also openly discriminates against students and academics of Palestinian descent who attempt to pass through Israeli-controlled borders, to the point that the U.S. State Department has issued a clear warning to Arab, Muslim, and Palestinian travelers to the region.  As well, Israel openly denies entry to people who belong to certain political organizations or who support BDS.

Pitzer faculty rightly refuse this discriminatory treatment for their students and refuse the college’s complicity with the oppression and suppression of academic freedom of Palestinians.  In a separate motion, Pitzer faculty also voted to “object” to Pitzer President and Board of Trustee Members’ decision to nullify a Student Senate resolution calling for Pitzer to divest from Israel.  Faculty noted that the President and Board singled out this Student Senate resolution as the only instance of “not accepting the Senate’s long standing autonomy in controlling its funds in the context of Pitzer’s governance system.”

We congratulate Pitzer faculty for their support for democratic student governance in the face of administrative overreach, an issue that has long plagued Palestine advocacy on campus.  USACBI also affirms the rights of student governments to support the Palestinian call for boycott, divestment and sanctions and to demand implementation of divestment resolutions from campus administrations.

These developments are especially welcome coming amidst ongoing attempts by some administrations at US universities, such as the University of Michigan, and by Zionist organizations such as Canary Mission, to intimidate, harass, punish, and silence faculty and student protest against Israeli policies.

The connections between the Palestinian freedom struggle and democratic university governance are not lost on USACBI; they are intertwined both in the actions taken at Pitzer as well as in the larger struggles for freedom and justice in which all of us are daily engaged.  As Pitzer students and faculty have demonstrated, the movement for BDS and Palestinian liberation, like all freedom struggles, will never be successfully silenced by oppressors and bullies.

–The USACBI Organizing Collective


Photo: Mural at Pitzer College. @lakitalki, Flickr

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