The faculty of Pitzer College in California has voted to suspend its study abroad program in Israel after members of the faculty joined students in protesting its existence. The College has claimed to Breitbart News that the program remains in place “while the topic is undergoing a college-wide shared governance process.”
The faculty of Pitzer College in Southern California have voted to officially suspended its study abroad program in Israel after a group of students and faculty complained about its existence.
The faculty has now voted to suspend the 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.”
In a statement, the University of Haifa, which runs Pitzer’s study abroad program in Israel, defended the country against Pitzer’s claims.
“While we support the values of freedom of speech and academic freedom, we oppose the BDS movement against Israel as well as boycotts targeting any individual or institution on the basis of nationality, ethnicity, religion, race, gender, or other discriminatory factor,” the university wrote in a statement. “Israel’s commitment to an open and inclusive society in which multiculturalism and interfaith tolerance thrive is no more evident than on the University of Haifa campus, where an approximately 25-percent-Arab student body exceeds the 20-percent-Arab population of the country as a whole.”
In a statement to Breitbart News, a Pitzer College spokesperson said, “The faculty did vote on a motion to suspend the program. At this time, the Haifa study abroad program continues to be available while the topic is undergoing a college-wide shared governance process.”
The Claremont chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine celebrated the vote and condemned the university for supporting the study abroad program in the first place.
“Israel has passed increasingly draconian policies banning political speech and barring activists for Palestinian human rights from entering the country,” the student group wrote in a statement. “On top of this, Israel has a systemic practice of racial discrimination at the border, meaning that this program is largely inaccessible to students from Middle Eastern descent. By encouraging other Pitzer students to embark on this program, the college has been consciously supporting these discriminatory practices.”
This isn’t the first anti-Israel incident that took place at a university in 2018. Earlier this year, a professor at the University of Michigan refused to write a recommendation letter for a student looking to study abroad in Israel. In October, the university banned all professors from refusing to write letters of recommendation based on their political beliefs. While some criticized the move as an academic freedom violation, others praised the university for forcing their professors to support their students. Those with the latter perspective argued that refusing to write a letter of recommendation for certain students based on their desired abroad program location violated their freedom to pursue their education.
Update — This article has been updated with a statement from Pitzer College which disputes that the college has cut off the Israel study program, but does confirm that faculty have voted to do so.