Israeli academics will always be welcome in the United States, and while there
are occasional incidents of hostility toward Israel on American campuses, there
is no “big pattern,” University of Miami president and former US health
secretary Donna Shalala told The Jerusalem Post on Saturday night.
joined the presidents of the major American universities to denounce the boycott
of Israeli academics. I sent a personal letter to the presidents of universities
here, as did the other presidents, promising there would be no boycott in the
United States and that Israeli scholars would always be welcome in the US,” said
Shalala, a third generation descendant of Lebanese Maronite immigrants, who was
the first Arab American to serve in a cabinet position and also the first to
serve as a president of a major American university.
Shalala, who is
currently in Israel with a delegation of US university presidents sponsored by
Project Interchange, added: “I believe that we were appalled by any such
Whether it’s disinvestment or a boycott against Israeli
academics, it’s inappropriate and not worthy of any educational institution. I
know of no American university that would support such a
Speaking about the sometimes hostile atmosphere toward Israel
on US campuses and occasions on which Israeli speakers have been heckled,
Shalala said: “There may be incidents, but I have been president of three
universities – Miami, Wisconsin and Hunter College – and there is an atmosphere
of tolerance in our universities. Certainly those of us who lead institutions
make it very clear that everyone is welcome. I don’t see a big pattern, even
though there are reports [of such incidents] periodically.”
while she believed it was a minority that is behind such incidents, it
imperative to remain “on the alert for anti-Semitism and to make it very
that it’s unacceptable and to denounce it whenever it occurs.”
who first came to Israel as a backpacker in the 1960s and also taught
UNRWA camps in Lebanon, said she felt it was important to bring as many
as possible to visit Israel in order to “hear Israelis talk about their
and what they are trying to achieve as well as to meet Arabs.”
Israel, the delegation of university presidents met with Israeli and
leaders and academics, and Shalala said they had explored opportunities
cooperation with Palestinian academic institutions. She said there had
opposition to this from Israel.
“One of the things we were doing here,
the college presidents, is looking for opportunities, and we met with
the heads of Palestinian institutions, and we are going to look for some
opportunities where we can be helpful.
We met with the American
ambassador and indicated that we want to be helpful. I think that
strengthen higher educational institutions is one element towards peace,
point of view, because it raises everybody, and anything we can do to
everyone is what we will try to do.”
Shalala also revealed that she would
be meeting with officials from Bar-Ilan University, which was recently
to establish a medical school in the Galilee, to examine the possibility
cooperation with the University of Miami’s medical school.
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