Should Your Child Go To A College Whose Faculty Supports The Anti-Semitic Boycott Against Israel?

Many considerations go into the decision of where to attend college. Up until fairly recently, however, the comfort of being Jewish, and the atmosphere toward Israel, were not major factors. Today, however, with the alarming reports from students witnessing and experiencing anti-Semitism, and the attacks on Israel by not only students but faculty, parents and their children would be wise to investigate what is going on, and how the administrators are responding, before deciding on a college.

Nearly 5,000 professors around the world, half from the United States, support the anti-Semitic BDS movement and/or signed onto petitions or statements that exceeded the bounds of legitimate criticism of Israel. According to the leaders of the BDS campaign, Jews have no right to self-determination in their homeland, two-states for two people is not a solution to the conflict with the Palestinians and Israel should be destroyed. As Prof. As’ad AbuKhalil, a BDS proponent from California State University, Stanislaus, explained: “The real aim of BDS is to bring down the state of Israel….That should be stated as an unambiguous goal. There should not be any equivocation on the subject. Justice and freedom for the Palestinians are incompatible with the existence of the state of Israel.”

Parents, do you want to send your child to a university where faculty advocate these anti-Semitic and undemocratic views? If not, you should take a careful look at the table below showing the top 10 universities with the most faculty members who hold these views.

NYU - 163

Princeton - 79

Stanford - 45

University of California, Berkeley - 41

University of Illinois - 41

Columbia University - 40

University of California, Los Angeles - 38

University of Michigan - 37

University of Massachusetts - 36

Harvard – 35

Another 77 are from the CUNY system.

In anthropology departments alone, more than 1,000 professors have joined the anti-Semitic (BDS) movement. The American Anthropological Association voted 1040-36 on November 20, 2015, in favor of adopting a motion to boycott Israeli academic institutions. A final vote is set to take place in April, where more than 10,000 members will vote on the issue, and we are likely to lose because the BDSers are loud and organized and those who are opposed are less so. Here are the universities with the largest number of anthropology faculty calling for a boycott of Israel:

Harvard – 21

University of Chicago – 20

Columbia – 18

Yale – 17

Stanford – 17

UC Santa Cruz -- 14

Brown – 13

University of Illinois – 13

Northwestern – 12

University of California, Berkeley -12

University of Michigan -- 12

University of Washington – 10

University of California, Los Angeles - 10

NYU - 10

At the CUNY system alone, 34 anthropology professors have endorsed BDS.

It is particularly disturbing to see some of the most elite universities on the top 10 list of university faculty advocating boycotts.

Why is this a problem?

First, these professors have the capacity to poison the minds of the Nation’s future leaders. Second, they may have an adverse impact on other faculty. Third, they create the impression that Israelis and other students who support Israel are unwelcome. Fourth, they illustrate the administration’s toleration of anti-Semitism. Fifth, these professors undermine the academic integrity of their departments and the university by displaying ignorance of the facts about Israel.

What makes the situation worse is that the BDS campaign accomplishes nothing positive. It does not promote peace; it hurts rather than helps Palestinians in the territories; it roils the campus and sets students against each other; it distracts from more important issues that directly impact students and the university (e.g., tuition) and it embarrasses the university and soils its reputation.

The good news is that NO university has boycotted Israel nor will any do so. To the contrary, ties between American and Israeli institutions are stronger and broader than ever, with hundreds of joint projects, degrees and study abroad programs, and hundreds of faculty engaged in cutting edge research with Israeli counterparts that is advancing basic research, agriculture and scientific innovation, as well as providing much needed funding for academic endeavors.

As the BDS movement grows, however, it may be time to take measures to show there is a cost to the failure of university officials to ensure that their universities are welcoming to Jewish students and, more important, that they are upholding academic values. 

  • A good place to start would be to demand that administrators and other faculty condemn the BDS movement and the faculty that support it because it is anti-Semitic and undermines the university’s commitment to free and open inquiry.
  • Faculty advocating the boycott should be monitored to ensure they are not imposing their political views on their students in the classroom.
  • Departments and universities should disaffiliate from any association that calls for a boycott of Israel and inform them that their journals will no longer be considered in tenure decisions (this will hit them where it really hurts).
  • Universities should also reiterate their objection to calls for divestment or boycotts directed at Israel. They should go even further by proactively increasing ties with Israeli universities.

It is probably too much to expect parents to discourage their students from going to the elite schools on these lists, but, at the very least, these universities should be made aware that students are thinking twice about applying to institutions whose reputations are being damaged by the anti-Semitic faculty they employ and shield behind the abuse of academic freedom.