On Dec. 13, 2018, the chancellors of all 10 University of California campuses released and signed a statement condemning academic boycotts of Israeli scholars and institutions of higher education.
The boycott would hinder students and faculty from taking part in academic events sponsored or funded by Israel, studying abroad in Israel or holding talks with Israeli state officials. In the statement, the chancellors stated that as leaders of the University of California campuses, they wrote the statement to reaffirm their long-standing opposition to an academic boycott of Israeli academic institutions and individual scholars.
“Our commitment to continued engagement and partnership with Israeli, as well as Palestinian colleagues, colleges, and universities is unwavering. We believe a boycott of this sort poses a direct and serious threat to the academic freedom of our students and faculty, as well as the unfettered exchange of ideas and perspectives on our campuses, including debate and discourse regarding conflicts in the Middle East,” the chancellors wrote.
The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) was initiated in 2004. Their website states that PACBI was started to contribute to the struggle for Palestinian freedom, justice and equality. It proposes a boycott of Israeli academic and cultural institutions for their “deep and persistent complicity in Israel’s denial of Palestinian rights that are stipulated in international law.”
Their website outlines events, activities or situations that are in violation of the Palestinian academic boycott, including academic events convened or co-sponsored by Israeli institutions or their support and lobby groups in various countries.
In an interview with the Highlander, Chancellor Kim Wilcox reiterated what was said in the statement. He wrote, “We believe a boycott of this sort poses a direct and serious threat to the academic freedom of our students and faculty, as well as the open exchange of ideas and perspectives on our campuses, including debate and discourse regarding conflicts in the Middle East.” He stated that many leaders in various fields are academics with ties to the Middle East, and many of UCR’s students have interest in or connection to Middle Eastern higher education institutions. “With this in mind we want UCR faculty and students to have the ability to acquire and share knowledge,” stated Wilcox. He did not offer any additional comment.
Students for Justice in Palestine and Highlanders for Israel did not provide comment before the time of print.