New York University Department Votes to Not Cooperate With Study Abroad Program in Israel
By a majority vote, faculty in NYU’s Department of Social and Cultural Analysis have passed a resolution that pledges non-cooperation with the university’s study abroad program in Tel Aviv. Citing the obligation to uphold the university’s Policy of Ethical Conduct on non-discrimination and equal opportunity, the faculty declared non-cooperation with the program until the Israeli state both ends its restrictions on entry based on ancestry and political speech, as well as adopts policies granting visas for exchanges to Palestinian universities on a fully equal basis as it does to Israeli universities. Members of the department as well as the NYU community at large have been impacted by these policies and so their right to academic freedom and movement has effectively been constrained.
The passage of the resolution comes after a year-long campaign initiated by undergraduates and graduate students within the department. The student campaign called on the department’s faculty to take action in response to the restrictions placed upon individuals of Palestinian descent or those speak critically of the Israeli state. Recent amendments to Israel’s Law on Entry single out several groups, among them Jewish Voice for Peace, which have chapters with large student memberships on NYU’s campus. The resolution, which prohibits the use of department resources for faculty teaching or exchanges at the Tel Aviv site, acknowledges that the operation of the program is in apparent violation of core university values. According to Andrew Ross, a professor who directs the department’s American Studies Program, “the faculty took this step in recognition of university policy and to protect the department from complicity with these forms of racial, religious, and political profiling.”
“This historic vote is the culmination of a student-led initiative,” reported Rose Asaf, a senior in the department, and president of NYU’s chapter of Jewish Voice for Peace.“We the students asked our department to not cooperate with a wing of the university that discriminates against us students ideologically, racially, and religiously. And they answered. This is the outcome of undergraduate students, graduate students, and faculty coming together, recognizing a problem, and acting.”
Text of the resolution: Non-Cooperation with NYU-Tel Aviv
Faculty and student members of the Department of Social and Cultural Analysis seek at all times to uphold this university’s basic principles of non-discrimination and equal opportunity in our relationships with other NYU departments and programs. We feel that these principles, set forth in the Code of Ethical Conduct, are being effectively violated in the operation of NYU’s study abroad program in Tel Aviv. Access to the program is clearly being obstructed by Israel’s long-standing discriminatory policies (as acknowledged by the State Department) of barring entry to Palestinians or persons of Arab descent and Muslim heritage, and by the recent amendments to its Law of Entry, which advocate for the exclusion of persons on account of their political speech. Moreover, the Israeli government routinely prevents Palestinian students from enrolling in higher education institutions outside of the West Bank and Gaza. Students accepted at NYU, for example, have been unable to obtain their visas from the US consulate in Jerusalem due to the Israeli government’s restrictions on movement from the West Bank and Gaza.
The NYU administration has indicated its disagreement with the Israeli state’s policy of barring entry based on political speech. However, in noting that “no NYU student has been prevented from going to Israel,” the administration fails to take into account the Palestinian members of the NYU community from the West Bank and Gaza who are unable to enter Israel, in addition to those with American citizenship who have been banned based on their Palestinian heritage and political activity. Participating in the program while members of our own department are barred entry to their homeland and sites of research serves to reproduce the racial inequalities of Israel’s policies in our own workplace.
We pledge non-cooperation with the Tel Aviv program until (a) the Israeli state ends its restrictions on entry based on ancestry and 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.
We urge other departments to pass similar resolutions in the spirit of abiding by NYU’s Code of Ethical Conduct and opposing racial and religious profiling on campus.
**According to the amendment, the excluded groups include: American Friends Service Committee, American Muslims for Palestine, Code Pink, Jewish Voice for Peace, National Students for Justice in Palestine, US Campaign for Palestinian Rights, and the BDS National Committee.
N.B. Students for Justice in Palestine and Jewish Voice for Peace have chapters at NYU and many SCA students are members.