Category Archives: Academic Boycott

30+ NYU Student Groups Pledge Non-cooperation with NYU Tel Aviv (Mondoweiss)

30+ NYU Student Groups Pledge Non-cooperation with NYU Tel Aviv

We, the undersigned student clubs, pledge to not participate in or apply to study abroad programs hosted at NYU Tel Aviv. Our participation would render us complicit in the state of Israel’s targeted discrimination against activists and Palestinian and Muslim students. In January 2018, Israel released a list of twenty organizations whose members are denied entry into the country because of their endorsement of the Palestinian call for BDS (Boycotting, Divesting from, and Sanctioning Israel).

The University, as an adoptee of AAUP principles of academic freedom, has the duty to uphold these standards throughout the Global Network University (GNU) and be proactive in addressing any violations of these principles. NYU must upgrade its commitment to ensure equal access to GNU sites and to appeal decisions of entry within the Global Network. Until then, the members of our clubs will not study away and/or visit NYU Tel Aviv.

In the Spring of 2018, the NYU Student Government Assembly passed a resolution expressing concern over the lack of global mobility and cited NYU Tel Aviv as a case study. Citing the U.S. Department of State’s website, the resolution cites the fact that “upon arrival at any of the ports of entry, Palestinians, including Palestinian-Americans, may wish to confirm with Israeli immigration authorities from what location they will be required to depart. Some have been allowed to enter Israel or visit Jerusalem but told they cannot depart Israel via Ben Gurion Airport without special permission, which is rarely granted. Some families have been separated as a result, and other travelers have forfeited airline tickets.”

Recently, we have been seriously troubled by the case of University of Michigan Associate Professor John Cheney-Lippold, in which after refusing to write a recommendation for a student’s study in Israel application, has been arbitrarily punished through a freezing of his pay and a cancellation of all sabbaticals for the next two years. This sets a dangerous precedent, in which departments have the ability to unjustly penalize faculty simply for their support of Palestinian human rights. As a department, we stand within solidarity with Cheney-Lippold and any faculty and students that support the Israeli academic boycott for Palestinian human rights.

We, the undersigned student clubs, pledge to not participate in or apply to study abroad programs hosted at NYU Tel Aviv.

Signed,

  1. African Students Union
  2. Aftab
  3. Asian American Political Activism Coalition
  4. Bella Quisqueya
  5. Black and Brown Coalition
  6. Black Student Union
  7. Brownstone Publication
  8. CampGrrl
  9. Hermandad de Sigma Iota Alpha, Inc
  10. Incarceration to Education Coalition
  11. International Socialist Organization
  12. Jewish Voice for Peace at NYU
  13. La HerenciaLatina
  14. LUCHA – Latinos Unidos Con Honor y Amistad
  15. Muslim Graduate Student Group
  16. Muslim Students Association
  17. NYU Against Fascism
  18. NYU Disorient
  19. NYU Dream Team
  20. NYU GSOC UAW Local 2110
  21. NYU Law Students for Justice in Palestine
  22. NYU MEXSA
  23. Pakistani Students Association
  24. Phi Iota Alpha Fraternity, Inc.
  25. PorColombia
  26. Sanctuary
  27. SHADES
  28. Students for Justice in Palestine
  29. Student Labor Action Movement, United Students Against Sweatshops Local #44
  30. T Party
  31. The Incarceration Education Coalition
  32. Young Democratic Socialists of America

Letter to the University of Michigan President Regarding John Cheney-Lippold (AAUP)

Letter to the University of Michigan President Regarding John Cheney-Lippold

The AAUP’s Department of Academic Freedom, Tenure, and Governance has sent a letter to the president of the University of Michigan responding to the university’s statement that it will discipline professor John Cheney-Lippold for his decision not to write a letter of recommendation for a student. Cheney-Lippold was sent a letter by the interim dean of the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts, notifying him of actions that she had taken as a result of her determination that his “conduct ha[d] fallen far short of the University’s and College’s expectation for how LSA faculty interact and treat students.”

From AAUP’s letter:

The Association’s interest in the case of Professor Cheney-Lippold stems from our longstanding commitment to academic freedom and tenure, the basic tenets of which are set forth in the enclosed 1940 Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure.That document, a joint formulation of the AAUP and the Association of American Colleges and Universities, has received the endorsement of more than 250 educational and professional organizations. . . .

. . . [c]harges that may lead to the imposition of severe sanctions are to be preceded by an informal inquiry conducted by a duly constituted faculty committee charged with determining whether proceedings for imposing sanctions should be undertaken. Following such a determination, AAUP-supported standards require an administration to demonstrate adequate cause for imposing a severe sanction in a hearing of record before an elected faculty body.

Click here to download the full letter to the University of Michigan

File:
Michigan-Cheney-Lippold.pdf

Publication Date:
Tuesday, October 16, 2018

AAUP, AFT, Rutgers Faculty Union Oppose DOE Investigation

AAUP, AFT and Rutgers Faculty Union Oppose Education Department Investigation 

WASHINGTON—American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten, American Association of University Professors President Rudy Fichtenbaum and Rutgers AAUP-AFT President Deepa Kumar issued the following joint statement in response to the Trump administration’s probe into anti-Semitism at Rutgers University:

“We are currently living in a period when racist and xenophobic hatred is being seen more and more on college campuses. The events in Charlottesville, Va., during the summer of 2017 are seared in our memory, but the issue remains: Earlier week, anti-Semitic fliers were plastered around the campus of University of California, Davis; Sacramento City College was defaced with swastikas; and the president of the United States continues to claim that George Soros is funding his opposition. In light of that, we would expect this administration—particularly the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights—to use its limited resources to investigate serious offenses that threaten the safety and civil rights of students on these campuses. 

“Instead, the department has chosen to reopen a 7-year-old case and investigate in particular an allegation that only certain students were charged fees to attend an event organized by a pro-Palestinian group called Never Again for Anyone. This event brought together people of all religions and activists from both sides, including Holocaust survivors, to discuss the nuances of a complicated issue. It is exactly the type of open dialogue we should be encouraging on our college campuses. The initial claim that any criticism of Israel and its policies toward Palestinians—at this event or any other—is anti-Semitic, was mistaken, and the initial investigation of the incident by the Department of Education under the Obama administration said just that.

“Now, years later, the DeVos Education Department is trying to use the Office for Civil Rights to expand the definition of anti-Semitism to include criticism of Israel’s policies toward Palestinians. This is a very dangerous move, as what happened on the Rutgers campus seven years ago was a free exchange of ideas, expressly allowed by the First Amendment, and such an exchange of ideas should be welcomed on our campuses—even when they’re ideas with which we disagree. Religious bias is far different than a discussion of a nation-state’s policies. 

“We are very concerned about the rise of anti-Semitism in America. What we cannot countenance, however, is the Trump and DeVos administration attempting to equate advocacy for Palestinians with anti-Semitism. That is dead wrong. Our unions are committed to both the free expression of ideas and to challenging racism, xenophobia and anti-Semitism on our campuses. The fight against hate is undermined when Trump administration officials attempt to equate political debate with racial, ethnic or religious intolerance. If our institutions of higher learning cannot provide space for open political debate, then democracy will wither even more under this administration.”

###

 

UCU Congress rejects “confusing” definition of antisemitism (Free Speech on Israel and BRICUP)

UCU Congress rejects “confusing” definition of antisemitism

Press Release from Free Speech on Israel and BRICUP (British Committee for the Universities of Palestine)

for immediate release – 29th May 2017

UCU Congress rejects “confusing” definition of antisemitism

Support for Palestinian professor denied entry to Israel

Free Speech on Israel, a Jewish-led organisation which defends the right to criticise Israel, and the British Committee for the Universities of Palestine, which campaigns for academic and cultural boycott of Israel, today welcomed the vote by the University and College Union (UCU) to reject the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism.

Motion 57, submitted by UCU branches at the University of Leeds, Goldsmiths, and the University of Brighton, along with two strengthening amendments from Queen’s University Belfast and London Retired Members Branch, was carried overwhelmingly in the closing minutes of UCU’s annual Congress in Brighton.  Only one delegate spoke against the motion.

UCU Congress delegates standing up to racism

UCU had previously, in 2011, rejected the “Working Definition of Antisemitism” of the EU Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC).  The IHRA definition strongly resembles the EUMC version.  Today’s vote strengthens UCU’s existing policy.

Both these definitions are considered highly problematic because they seek to conflate criticism of Israel with genuine anti-Jewish racism: examples cited in them make explicit reference to Israel.  The UK Government has adopted the IHRA definition, and in February this year Universities Minister Jo Johnson wrote to Universities UK insisting that university activities must respect the definition.  In particular, he alleged that “anti-Semitic incidents … might take place under the banner of ‘Israel (sic) Apartheid’ events.”  Some universities have banned or curtailed campus events during Israeli Apartheid week or subsequently, and campaigners for Palestinian human rights consider that the definition is being used to censor legitimate political activity and debate which criticises the Israeli occupation and human rights abuses.

In moving the motion, Mark Abel of Brighton UCU noted that an event organised by Friends of Palestine had been cancelled by the University of Central Lancashire, who cited the IHRA definition as making the event ‘unlawful’.

Reacting to this wave of censorship the new, Jewish-led organisation Free Speech on Israel, along with Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC), Independent Jewish Voices, and Jews for Justice for Palestinians, obtained a legal Opinion from the eminent human rights lawyer Hugh Tomlinson QC.

The Opinion is devastating: it characterises the IHRA definition as confusing, not legally binding, and putting public bodies that use it at risk of “unlawfully restricting legitimate expressions of political opinion”.  A public body that bans a meeting under the IHRA definition without any evidence of genuine antisemitism could be breaching the European Convention on Human Rights which guarantees freedom of expression (Article 10), and freedom of assembly (Article 11).

In concluding his speech, Mark Abel said: “This is a dangerous conflation of anti-Zionism and anti-semitism. … It is a definition intended to silence those who wish to puncture the Israeli state’s propaganda that it is a normal liberal democratic state.”

Mike Cushman, a UCU member and co-founder of FSOI, said: “Free speech on Israel welcomes UCU’s recognition that fighting antisemitism is a separate struggle from defending the rights of Palestinians, and that both these struggles are important. Putting these in opposition to each other assists both antisemites and war criminals.”

Les Levidow, a UCU member speaking for BRICUP, said: “Congratulations to UCU for defending free speech on Israel/Palestine by rejecting the government-IHRA agenda to weaponise antisemitism, conflated with anti-Zionism.”

UCU Congress also passed a motion in support of Professor Kamel Hawwash, a UCU member at the University of Birmingham, who was prevented from entering Israel on 7th April on a trip with his wife and young son to visit relatives in occupied East Jerusalem.  It seems likely that Prof. Hawwash was banned under the new Israeli boycott law, which prevents activists accused of supporting BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) from entering Israel.  Prof. Hawwash was until recently the vice-chair of PSC.  The General Secretary of UCU will now be writing to the Israeli Embassy and the FCO to urge that the ban on Prof. Hawwash and all non-violent human rights campaigners be lifted.

ENDS

Motion 57 As amended and agreed

Composite: International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-semitism

Congress notes:

  1. UCU’s exemplary anti-racist work, eg. Holocaust Memorial Day materials
  2. policy (2011) dissociating UCU from the ‘EUMC working definition’ of anti-semitism
  3. the close similarity between the IHRA and EUMC definitions, including their conflation of antisemitism with criticism of Israel
  4. that government has formally adopted the IHRA definition of anti-semitism
  5. that this definition conflates anti-semitism with criticism of the state of Israel and has been used to intimidate academics who are engaged in activities that are critical of the policies of the Israeli government but that are not anti-semitic
  6. government-inspired attempts to ban Palestine solidarity events, naming Israeli Apartheid Week
  7. The legal opinion from Hugh Tomlinson QC, obtained by PSC and other groups, characterising the IHRA definition as confusing, not legally binding, and putting public bodies that use it at risk of ‘unlawfully restricting legitimate expressions of political opinion’.

Congress re-affirms:

  1. UCU’s condemnation of all forms of racial or religious hatred or discrimination
  2. UCU’s commitment to free speech and academic freedom
  3. the importance of open campus debate on Israel/Palestine.

Congress resolves that UCU dissociates itself from the IHRA definition and will make no use of it (eg. in educating members or dealing with internal complaints).

Congress instructs:

  1. NEC to contact all members in a dedicated communication urging report to NEC of all repressive uses of the IHRA definition
  2. conduct research about the implications of the use of the IHRA definition
  3. general secretary to write to VCs/principals urging staff protection from malicious accusations, and freedom of political criticism
  4. president to issue, and circulate to members, a detailed press statement on UCU’s criticism of the IHRA definition
  5. lobby government to seek a review of its endorsement of the IHRA definition and to replace it with one that will both protect free speech and combat anti-semitism.

Recalling the experience of Fraser vs UCU, we call upon the NEC to take a position against any university management that reacts to spurious accusations of anti-semitism by banning speakers who are opposed to the policies of the state of Israel but who have not in any way expressed racism against Jewish people.

LFP Bulletin: Graduate Student Workers Resist New Attack on UAW 2865 BDS Resolution

Click here to subscribe to Labor for Palestine bulletins

Screenshot 2016-05-28 11.05.17View in PDF format: Graduate Student Workers Resist New Attack on UAW 2865 BDS Resolution

=====
Contents:

May 27, 2016
Graduate Student Workers Resist New Attack on UAW 2865 BDS Resolution
— and more, from Labor for Palestine
Please forward widely!

Union Members Struggle for a Democratic Debate on Palestine: Statement from UAW 2865,GEO-UAW 2322, and GSOC-UAW 2110 Palestine Solidarity Caucuses on UAW 2865 BDS Vote Nullification
Three UAW Locals have overwhelmingly endorsed, by full member vote, to support boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) in solidarity with Palestinian workers and society. This grassroots momentum has only increased despite anti-democratic actions by higher up Union officials to quell debate on the issue among locals.
Click here to read full statement
Like UAW 2865 BDS on Facebook
Like GEO-UAW 2322 BDS on Facebook
Like GSOC-UAW 2110 BDS on Facebook

Rank and file challenge US union bosses over BDS (Electronic Intifada)
“Despite the attempts of top-down … officials to crush our union democracy, the tide of rank and-file support is against them,” Keady added. “We will work hard to implement the will of our members until Palestinians have won justice, freedom and equality.”
Click here to read full article

Click below to like and share this online poster:

Like TAA/AFT Local 3220 on Facebook

Is BDS Simply a ‘Campus Movement?’How Deceitful Can Thomas Friedman Actually Be? (Huffington Post)
Michael Letwin, Co-Convener, Labor for Palestine; Former President, Association of Legal Aid Attorneys/UAW 2325 comments, “By respecting the BDS picket line, a growing number of U.S. trade unions are honoring the most fundamental labor principle: An injury to one is an injury to all. The refusal by ILWU Local 10 dockers to handle Israeli Zim Line cargo in 2014 shows the unparalleled power of labor solidarity against apartheid Israel.”
Click here to read full article

Resource: Labor for Palestine: Challenging US Labor Zionism (American Quarterly)
Notable challenges to this dominant Labor Zionism began in the late 1960s. These include positions taken by the League of Revolutionary Black Workers in 1969 and wildcat strikes against the United Auto Workers (UAW) leadership’s support for Israel in 1973. Since September 11, 2001, Israel’s wars and other apartheid policies have been challenged by New York City Labor Against the War (NYCLAW), Labor for Palestine, ILWU Local 10 dockworkers, UAW Local 2865 graduate students at the University of California, the United Electrical Workers, and others. Increasingly, such efforts have made common cause with racial justice and other movements, and—at the margins—have begun to crack Labor Zionism’s seemingly impregnable hold in the United States.
Click here to read full article
Like Labor for Palestine on Facebook
Visit Labor for Palestine Online
Get information, invite speaker, start a chapter
Donate to Labor for Palestine

Union Members Struggle for a Democratic Debate on Palestine: Statement from UAW 2865, GEO-UAW 2322, and GSOC-UAW 2110 Palestine Solidarity Caucuses on UAW 2865 BDS Vote Nullification

Screenshot 2016-05-27 09.03.37For Immediate Release
May 26, 2016

Union Members Struggle for a Democratic Debate on Palestine:
Statement from UAW 2865, GEO-UAW 2322, and GSOC-UAW 2110 Palestine Solidarity Caucuses on UAW 2865 BDS Vote Nullification

UAW 2865 BDS Caucus Press Contact: uaw2865bds@gmail.com
GEO-UAW 2322 Palestine Solidarity Caucus Contact: anna.waltman@gmail.com
GSOC-UAW 2110 BDS Caucus Contact: gsocmembersforbds@gmail.com

Three UAW Locals have overwhelmingly endorsed, by full member vote, to support boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) in solidarity with Palestinian workers and society. This grassroots momentum has only increased despite anti-democratic actions by higher up Union officials to quell debate on the issue among locals. The UAW’s Public Relations Board (PRB) is the latest body to attempt to quell labor solidarity with Palestinians by affirming the UAW International Executive Board’s (IEB) nullification of Local 2865’s majority member vote to support BDS.

UAW Local 2865, which represents over 14,000 graduate student workers at the University of California, voted in December 2014 to support BDS with 65% of voting members in favor. The vote saw unusually high turnout, greater than that of a recent contract ratification vote. A few members who opposed the resolution engaged a union-busting corporate law firm to appeal the vote. In December 2015, the International Executive Board struck down the BDS resolution, despite affirming the democratic integrity of the vote. This week, the UAW PRB, a body charged with reviewing decisions of the Executive Board on appeal, affirmed the nullification.

The PRB’s decision to uphold nullification of the BDS vote is based solely on a thread of antidemocratic thinking that misrepresents basic facts. They posit that because the UAW International president signed a letter opposing BDS in 2007 – without any record of discussion or debate within the IEB, let alone the membership – the International Union now holds a position against BDS and subordinate Locals cannot assert a different position. The PRB ignored the clear language of the resolution, which simply called on the UAW IEB to change its current position of investment in multinational corporations that enable human rights abuses. Because the original BDS vote thereby recognized the authority of the IEB, the PRB decision represents an attempted ban on even raising the debate within the UAW.

Local 2865 BDS Caucus member Jennifer Mogannam, a rank and file member, said, “This decision cannot erase the fact that increasing numbers of UAW members stand in solidarity with Palestinian workers. The PRB’s decision tells us that the President of UAW in 2007 had a different view. Clearly, several thousand UAW members from coast to coast disagree with the president from 2007. The International Union cannot just reach into a dusty file cabinet to shut down the growing number of members who want to discuss and change the union’s position on BDS.”

Liz Jackson, attorney from Palestine Legal, commented, “This mirrors the national trend of suppression: members are voting by democratic majorities to support BDS, but when the upper echelons of the power structure disagree, they frequently resort to shutting down debate from the top. This may work in the short term, but suppression of speech cannot stop a sea change in public opinion.”

A growing number of graduate student worker organizations have endorsed BDS. In April, the New York University Graduate Employee Union (GSOC-UAW 2110) and the University of Massachusetts, Amherst Graduate Employee Union (GEO-UAW 2322), representing over 2,000 members each, endorsed by full membership vote the call from all major Palestinian trade unions and civil society groups to impose BDS against Israel. Last week, the Teaching Assistants’ Association (TAA/AFT Local 3220) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, representing over 9,000 graduate workers and students, voted overwhelmingly in favor (81%) of adopting a BDS resolution.

“Already, the clear will of the membership of three UAW locals is to support our Palestinian counterparts, including workers and broader society, in their struggle against racism, dispossession, and apartheid. Despite the attempts of top-down International Union officials to crush our union democracy, the tide of rank-and-file support is against them. We will work hard to implement the will of our members until Palestinians have won justice, freedom, and equality.” – Joe Keady, GEO/UAW2322 rank & file member

Union officials suppress member support for BDS (Palestine Legal)

Palestine Legal

Union officials suppress member support for BDS

May 25, 2016
UAW
CREDIT: CLYDE ROBINSON

As a growing number of local unions endorse Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) in solidarity with Palestinian workers, the United Auto Workers (UAW) Public Review Board last week affirmed a decision to nullify the BDS resolution adopted by members of Local 2865.

UAW Local 2865 – which represents over 14,000 graduate student workers at the University of California (UC) – voted by an overwhelming majority in December, 2014 to demand that their union and their employer, the UC, divest from companies complicit in human rights violations against Palestinians. A few members who opposed the resolution engaged a union-busting corporate law firm to appeal the vote. In December 2015, the International UAW, which oversees Local 2865, nullified the vote – despite its own finding that the local conducted a fair and democratic election. The local union appealed, and last week, the union’s Public Review Board affirmed the nullification.

The new decision reasons that because the UAW International president signed a letter opposing BDS in 2007, UAW now holds a position against BDS, and subordinate membership groups cannot assert a different position. But this reasoning ignores the fact that the 2007 statement was signed without any record of discussion among the Executive Board, much less any debate among the UAW’s membership.

Rank and file member of Local 2865, Jennifer Mogannam, said, “This decision cannot erase the fact that increasing numbers of UAW members stand in solidarity with Palestinian workers. … Clearly, several thousand UAW members from coast to coast disagree with the president from 2007. The International union cannot just reach into a dusty file cabinet to shut down the growing number of members who want to discuss and change the union’s position on BDS.”

Liz Jackson, Palestine Legal staff attorney, commented, “The nullification reflects the national trend of suppression. People are voting by democratic majorities to support BDS. But when higher officials disagree – like state legislators, university administrators, and presidential candidates – they resort to shutting down debate from the top. This may work in the short term, but attempts to suppress speech cannot stop a sea change in public opinion.”

Popular support for BDS is growing as three more graduate student worker organizations adopted resolutions this spring. In April, the New York University Graduate Employee Union (GSOC-UAW 2110) and the University of Massachusetts, Amherst Graduate Employee Union (GEO-UAW 2322), representing 2,000 members each, endorsed by full membership vote the call from all major Palestinian trade unions and civil society groups to impose BDS against Israel.

Last week, the Teaching Assistants’ Association (TAA/AFT Local 3220) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, representing over 9,000 graduate workers and students, also voted overwhelmingly in favor of adopting a BDS resolution.

Urgent Action: Sign appeal to the UN about Israel’s war of repression on BDS — and other news from Labor for Palestine

View in PDF format: LFP Update 3

Screenshot 2016-05-17 17.58.54Update 4

Urgent Action: Protest Israel’s war on BDS
“We’re urging the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to take the necessary measures to uphold and protect the rights of Palestinian, Israeli and international human rights defenders who campaign nonviolently for Palestinian rights, including through the BDS movement. Please click here to add your name to our appeal now.”


Update 5

May 21, 2016 NYC — Labor for Palestine at the Left Forum: Confronting Racism, Zionism & Injustice on the BDS Picket Line
How growing U.S. labor solidarity with Palestine is helping to rebuild a democratic, militant, anti-racist, effective workers’ movement — at home and abroad. Click here to RSVP and for full text.


Screenshot 2016-05-17 18.00.10


Update7

Posters Salute UAW 2110, 2322, and 2865 BDS Resolutions
Download here.


Update8

Response to President Hamilton, NYU
(GSOC Members for BDS)
“As with the boycott of Apartheid South African universities–which NYU eventually supported, revealing that the university has not always been categorically against such boycotts–we hope to create pressure so that Israel respects the freedoms of the Palestinians, including their academic freedoms.” Read full text.


Update9

UAW 2865 Condemns Horowitz Posters, Climate of Islamophobia and Racism
“Make no mistake, it is the repeated ignoring and delegitimization of Islamophobia, racism, and complicity in the routine suppression of pro-Palestine speech and activity on university campuses that allowed for the sort of escalation we have seen from David Horowitz and his followers, whose actions epitomize the often ignored intersection of Islamophobia, racism, and the demonization of pro-Palestine sentiment.” Read full text.


Update10

Amherst Professors: UAW Resolution affirms human rights (Daily Collegian)
“It is encouraging to us as faculty that GEO, the largest collective bargaining unit within UAW Local 2322, and representing over 2,000 graduate student workers at our flagship campus, voted overwhelmingly (95 percent) in favor of the resolution to stand in solidarity with Palestinian civil society. In doing so it became the second major body of unionized workers in the U.S. to formally join the BDS movement by membership vote.” Read full text.


Where Did The Palestinians Go?
In 1948, around 80% of Palestinians were forced out of their homes during the creation of Israel. That event is known as the Nakba, or “the Catastrophe.” So where did they go? And how many Palestinians are there around the world now?

Response to President Hamilton, NYU (GSOC Members for BDS)

GSOC is here to stayMay 3, 2016

Response to President Hamilton, NYU

Dear President Hamilton,

In response to your recent memo on the democratic decision of the graduate student union GSOC-UAW 2110 to endorse and join the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, we would like to highlight some errors and register our disappointment in the manner it was issued.

First, your memo misrepresents the boycott and the referendum  Our vote for boycott never targets individual academics, but rather seeks to break ties with institutions that participate in the oppression of Palestinians and the curtailing of their human rights and academic freedoms. Under the academic boycott, no restrictions are placed on working with individual Israeli scholars–those following the boycott are still welcome to invite Israeli scholars to conferences, to co-author papers with them, and to coordinate research (so long as these scholars are not acting as official representatives of the Israeli state). What the boycott targets are institutional ties with Israeli universities and research institutes. For a full detailing of the academic boycott procedures, please refer to the guidelines provided by the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural boycott of Israel (PACBI).

Furthermore, while your statement claimed that our vote called on NYU to “divest from all Israel-related investments”, in truth it calls on NYU to divest from “Israeli state institutions and international companies complicit in the ongoing violation of Palestinian human and civil rights”. We are calling for divestment based on companies’ conduct and role in the oppression of Palestinians, not divestment from any company vaguely “related” to Israel.

Second, we are disappointed that the memo does not acknowledge that this was a democratic referendum passed with strong support by 66% of voting GSOC members. Your dismissive attitude suggests that you have little regard for the actual concerns of NYU students, which have been given voice by GSOC’s vote. Moreover, the claim that the pledges of GSOC members could conflict with their responsibilities as employees of NYU is opaque, somewhat threatening, and certainly false. It is inappropriate for university officials to make vague, unsubstantiated gestures that suggest there might be negative consequences for individual graduate students who follow their conscience.

Third, your failure to address blatant human rights violations is appalling and insulting to both the cause of Palestinian human rights and the democratic vote put forth by the GSOC. This is yet another regrettable instance in which the lives of Palestinians are unaccounted for and their voices are silenced. Contrary to the memo, opponents of BDS are not the only ones who claim that their position is in favor of academic freedom. We, along with all supporters of BDS, are deeply concerned with academic freedom, and indeed, the shocking lack of such freedom for Palestinian universities, students, and academics is one of the reasons we have called for boycott. As with the boycott of Apartheid South African universities–which NYU eventually supported, revealing that the university has not always been categorically against such boycotts–we hope to create pressure so that Israel respects the freedoms of the Palestinians, including their academic freedoms.

We hope that out of respect for your graduate students and for justice, you issue a clarificatory statement acknowledging these errors.

Sincerely,

GSOC members for BDS

Two Posters Salute graduate employee members of UAW 2110, 2322, and 2865 for respecting the BDS picket line