400 New York University members sign letter urging boycott of Tel Aviv campus

Boycott letter originally denounced by NYU administration as at odds with the tenets of academic freedom now has over 400 signatures.

Dan Verbin ,

Manhattan, New York
Manhattan, New York
ISTOCK

An open letter signed by over 400 New York University (NYU) faculty, students and groups pledges “non-cooperation with the school’s Tel Aviv campus until “the Israeli state ceases its military campaign and takes action to end discriminatory policies that limit Palestinian students’ access to education.”

The letter also calls to “refrain from faculty collaborations with NYU Tel Aviv, as well as engagement with the study abroad program in Tel Aviv.”

The “Statement of Solidarity with Palestine from NYU Community” was originally authored on May 21 by members of the group Faculty of Color for an Anti-Racist NYU. The letter was later republished on June 17 on Medium, with an invitation for faculty, students and campus groups to sign.

On May 25, NYU spokesperson John Beckman said in a statement that NYU did not support the petition.

“Such a boycott is at odds with the tenets of academic freedom. Academic freedom rests, in large part, upon the principle of free exchange of ideas. Ostracizing colleagues or programs in this way flies in the face of that principle, and it suppresses free speech and debate, precisely the opposite of a university’s mission,” Beckman said.

He added that the resolution was discriminatory by targeting members of NYU based on their nationality. He said that university administration considered“the effort to repudiate engagement regrettable and misguided.”

The letter accused Israel of having a “long-standing record of settler colonial violence and dispossession, including discriminatory policies against Palestinians, persons of Arab descent, persons of Muslim heritage, and those who support Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) and related positions of dissent.”

It claims that “discriminatory laws and routine limits on Palestinian mobility also prevent Palestinian students from enrolling in higher education institutions in Israel. These systematic policies have led international human rights organizations to declare Israel’s system of rule as apartheid.”

It also stated, “In recent weeks, Israel’s brutal military action within Israel and Palestine has escalated effects of longstanding discriminatory policies. These actions have already killed hundreds, injured thousands and destroyed many civic institutions, including schools run by the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) and others.”

The letter does not mention the over 4,000 rockets fired over 11 days by Hamas at Israeli civilian areas.

It goes on to “pledge non-cooperation with the Tel Aviv program until the Israeli state ceases its military campaign and takes action to end discriminatory policies that limit Palestinian students’ access to education. We will refrain from faculty collaborations with NYU Tel Aviv, as well as engagement with the study abroad program in Tel Aviv.”

Signatories to the open letter now number over 100 faculty and groups, including Jewish Voice for Peace, the Black Student Union and the Graduate Student Organizing Committee.

A May 27 letter by the NYU chapter of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) disagreed with the university’s position and lent its support to the letter, saying they supported “the autonomy of NYU faculty in choosing not to cooperate with the study abroad program at NYU’s Tel Aviv site.”



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