(May 3, 2019 / JNS) The faculty of New York University’s Department of Social and Cultural Analysis (SCA) voted overwhelmingly on Thursday to officially end its relationship with its Tel Aviv campus.
One faculty member voted against the resolution of non-cooperation.
While the move will not prohibit faculty members and students from doing research on the campus in Israel, the SCA will not officially sponsor any faculty exchanges or student study-abroad program there.
NYU Professor Andrew Ross, who has an anti-Israel history that includes glorifying Palestinian terrorism and currently serves on the board of the U.S. Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, told Newsweek that the resolution is less about taking a position against Israel and more about the university being “bound by these ethical [principles] of nondiscrimination and equal opportunity and if some of our students and faculty can’t access a program, then that’s a real problem.”
Michael Low, a student at NYU and the vice president of Realize Israel, told Newsweek that the course of action was “essentially yet another boycott of NYU’s already marginalized Jewish community.”
“If you are a champion of peace, start demonstrating your ability to create peace locally by treating all students with respect, even if they do not share your views,” he said.
NYU spokesperson John Beckman told JNS, “We are deeply committed to our vibrant program in Tel Aviv, and believe that we, as a community, strongly benefit from engaging across borders, including, of course, the free exchange of people and ideas. Over many decades, NYU’s Global network has embraced the notion that contact across borders is a crucial component of a modern educational experience.”
Beckman mentioned NYU’s opposition to academic boycotts as “they are at odds with the tenets of academic freedom and exchange” and that, regarding the SCA vote, “Our Tel Aviv campus does not draw on faculty from the Department of Social and Cultural Analysis for its academic program, so there does not seem to be a practical effect to the vote. Furthermore, NYU has not had a student denied entry to Israel to study at our Tel Aviv campus.”
Pro-Israel organizations, including Alums for Campus Fairness and Club Z, denounced the faculty decision.
“Universities should be pillars of truth, academic freedom and open discourse,” Alums for Campus Fairness executive director Avi Gordon told JNS. “It’s our goal in this situation to hold the University administration accountable for these important values. Alums for Campus Fairness’ NYU Chapter, consisting of over 400 alumni, hope that President [Andrew] Hamilton will come out unequivocally condemning this dangerous and one-sided action.”
Hamilton has said the boycott Israel initiative is “contrary to our core principles of academic freedom, antithetical to the free exchange of ideas and at odds with the university’s position.”
“This resolution is nothing more but virtue-signaling; it helped not one single person, it solved not one single issue,” Club Z executive director Masha Merkulova told JNS. “It made Mr. Andrew Ross feel self-righteous, without doing anything to actually deserve it.”
“Let us not be fooled, this resolution of non-cooperation is equal to the calling for boycott of the Jewish state and should be treated as such by the university,” she continued. “And it is time for Jewish parents to vote with their dollars and to take NYU off the list of consideration for their kids to attend. There are plenty of other great schools who aren’t endorsing anti-Semitism at every turn.”
“We are appalled at the shady tactics being used by faculty boycotters at NYU to prevent interested students from learning about the Middle East and Israel,” AMCHA Initiative co-founder and director Tammi Rossman-Benjamin told JNS. “Make no mistake about it, this has nothing to do with human rights or peace. It is all part of the global BDS movement’s attempt—this time involving faculty who are shamefully abusing their professional roles and positions—to shut down all pro-Israel views and intimidate those who hold them into silence, all to create a vacuum that allows for injecting a one-sided anti-Israel narrative onto campus and into the classroom.”
“Unsurprisingly, SCA is misrepresenting the policies of the United Arab Emirates to cover up its blatant hypocrisy. Israeli citizens are prohibited from entering the UAE, meaning Israeli NYU students cannot study in Abu Dhabi unless they hide their identity and use a passport from a different country,” Rena Nasar, StandWithUs tri-state campus director, told JNS. “We urge NYU to denounce SCA’s assault on academic freedom in the strongest terms and follow up by deepening its cooperation with Israeli academic institutions.”
The SCA move is the latest in what has been an academic year full of anti-Israel activity on campus.
The university gave its President’s Service Award to its Students for Justice in Palestine chapter in April, despite the group’s affiliation with the BDS movement and its anti-Israel activity. Hamilton skipped the ceremony.
Last December, the SJP affiliate at NYU was instrumental in passing a resolution calling for divestment in companies that do business with the Israeli military.