University Chancellors & Presidents:

Statements Following Campus BDS Resolutions


    In advance of the American Anthropological Association academic boycott vote, University of California President and each of the 9 Chancellors signed a statement which expressed that, “The University of California believes that an academic boycott is an inappropriate response to a foreign policy issue and one that threatens academic freedom and sets a damaging precedent for academia. We urge Association members to consider the boycott’s potentially harmful impacts and oppose this resolution.”
    When he was President of Harvard University, Lawrence Summers labeled anti-Israel divestment initiatives on his campus “anti-Semitic in effect if not intent.” More recently in January 2015, he suggested that “failure of American academic leaders to aggressively take on the challenge posed by the Boycott, Divestment, Sanction movement represents a consequential abdication of moral responsibility.”
    Following the passage of an anti-Israel divestment resolution in Loyola University’s student government in April 2015, University President Father Michael Garanzini sent a letter to the campus community condemning the resolution for being divisive and saying that it “pits student against student.”
    Prior to a BDS vote by the student government in June 2016, President Wim Weivel sent a message to the campus community that called the BDS resolution “divisive and ill-informed.” He further stated, “The tone and tenor of the BDS movement has made members of our community feel unsafe and unwelcome at PSU, and it is not acceptable to marginalize or scapegoat them. Anti-Semitism cannot and will not be tolerated on our campus.”
    Stanford University President John Hennessy issued a statement in February 2015 following the Stanford student senate’s passage of an anti-Israel divestment resolution, in which he said that in his 15 years as President and more than 30 years as a faculty member he had “never seen a topic that has been more divisive within the university community,” and he warned that “an atmosphere of intimidation or vitriol endangers our ability to operate as an intellectual community.”
    In a November 2015 statement following a contentious divestment vote on his campus, UC Santa Cruz Chancellor George Blumenthal expressed his fear that the resolution “will have a chilling effect on individuals within our campus community” and that its passage “may create an environment in which some of our Jewish students feel alienated and less welcome on our campus.”
    In a 2010 statement firmly rejecting the notion that the University of California would divest from Israel or companies doing business with Israel, UC President Mark Yudof and Board of Regents Chair Russell Gould and Vice Chair Sherry Lansing stated: “This isolation of Israel among all the countries in the world greatly disturbs us and is of grave concern to members of the Jewish community.”
    March 8, 2016 – University of Minnesota President, Eric W. Kaler – “The University does not endorse measures advocated in the SJP resolution, which has been offered in support of the Boycott Divestment Sanctions (BDS) movement. The BDS Movement, while not directly mentioned in the resolution, has called for a comprehensive academic, cultural, economic and consumer boycott of Israel. In general, our university should be wary about such boycotts, given our core values of academic freedom and our commitment to the free exchange of ideas, uncertainty about the impact of such efforts, and concerns that we may be unfairly singling out one government and the citizens of the country in question. In this case, my concerns are heightened by the fact that the Global BDS movement does not seem to distinguish between opposition to the policies of the government of Israel and opposition to the existence of Israel.”
    August 13, 2016 – Yeshiva University President, Richard M. Joel –  “As an educator and university president, I see a profound contradiction between the boycott, divestment and sanctions, or B.D.S., movement and the mission of higher education. B.D.S. paints in deceptively broad strokes an issue that is deeply complex. It condemns the entire nation of Israel and shuns all of its considerable human and material capital, including academics, regardless of political orientation, and technology, regardless of positive utility. The effects of this movement are far-reaching. Disturbing evidence shows that it has become a convenient excuse to delegitimize or malign Jewish identity on several college campuses, and Jewish students have become targets of anti-Semitic slurs, graffiti and hate speech by fellow students and, in some shocking incidents, by faculty members. This trend must be confronted. One of our primary jobs as educators is to ensure the safety and well-being of our students. To do so, colleges and universities must think and act seriously about cultivating and promoting civility on our campuses and make clear that free, meaningful expression can survive only in an environment where there are appropriate rules of engagement. It will not tamp down the crucial exchange of ideas. It will make this exchange more dignified, more meaningful and even more productive. Free speech for all has to ensure safe speech for all.”