Stanford University History Professor Joel Beinin, who teaches courses about the Middle East and openly supports the academic boycott of Israel.
This week, AMCHA Initiative released new research that provides the first-ever empirical evidence suggesting that faculty who support the academic Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel are actively promoting that political agenda directly to students in their classrooms.
The study, which examined 50 syllabi at 40 public and private colleges and universities, reveals that:
The stark differences between the average percentage of course readings with pro-BDS authors within the two groups leaves little doubt that instructors who support academic BDS make a calculated choice to heavily weight their course materials with readings authored by BDS supporters. These results, in turn, imply that not only are academic boycotting instructors actively including pro-BDS readings, they are also severely limiting or completely excluding readings that would provide a more balanced picture of Israel.
AMCHA Initiative fully acknowledges that freedom of speech protects faculty’s right to sign petitions and make extramural statements in support of academic BDS and academic freedom generally protects their right to develop and teach courses as they see fit. However, the report notes the serious and harmful consequences of faculty bringing their support for academic BDS into the classroom.
Distorting and blocking the flow of knowledge is a violation of the norms and standards of scholarly inquiry and undermines the university’s academic mission. Furthermore, faculty who use their classrooms to give academic legitimacy to a wholly one-sided, anti-Israel perspective, in compliance with the guidelines of academic BDS, can engender among their students hostility not only towards Israel, but towards Israel’s on-campus supporters. Such sentiments can easily lead to acts targeting Jewish and pro-Israel students for harm, as AMCHA’s previous research has shown.
The report urges college and university leaders to take the following immediate steps to address these disturbing new findings:
The report concluded, “Ultimately, it is up to academic departments and faculty senates to determine whether the promotion of one-sided, highly politicized course content is deemed a legitimate use of academic freedom, or an abuse of it. However, given the clear and present harm that such politicization can cause to our schools, our students and society, it is time for tuition and taxpayers, as well as state and federal legislators, to demand that faculty address this question forthrightly, and to hold them accountable for their answer.”
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