By Aryeh Savir/TPS • 9 January, 2020
A new and shocking study has found that faculty on US campuses who support the academic the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement is actively promoting their political agenda directly to students by utilizing their time in the classrooms.
The study by the AMCHA Initiative, which provides the first empirical evidence on the subject, examined 50 syllabi at 40 public and private colleges and universities over an 11-year period and found that BDS-supporting instructors had an average of 78% of their course readings authored by BDS supporters, whereas non-BDS-supporting instructors had an average of 17% of their course readings authored by BDS supporters.
“These data demonstrate that the large quantitative difference between the groups is not just the result of a few outliers, but represents a qualitative difference between these two groups of instructors in terms of how they select course readings,” AMCHA, an anti-Semitism watchdog, stated Wednesday.
The researchers further charged that these results 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.”
In their report, “Bringing BDS into the Classroom,” the authors fully acknowledged 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 also raised concerns about the “serious and undeniably harmful consequences of politically-motivated faculty weaponizing their course curricula.”
They noted that “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.”
The researchers also warned that “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, sentiments that can easily lead to acts targeting Jewish and pro-Israel students for harm.”
“Signing a petition in your own name on your personal time is one thing, but substituting personal politics for sound pedagogy from a lectern in a university classroom is something altogether very different,” stated Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, one of the report’s lead researchers.
AMCHA’s previous research supports this new report.
Its 2017 study, “The Impact of Academic Boycotters of Israel on US Campuses,” provided evidence that academic boycotters are using their own academic departments’ public events as venues for promoting boycotts.
The study found that departments of Middle East, Ethnic and Women’s Studies with faculty members who had expressed public support for an academic boycott of Israel were five to 12 times more likely to sponsor Israel-related lectures and symposia with pro-BDS speakers than departments with no academic boycotters.
It also revealed that schools, where academic departments held events with BDS-supporting speakers, were twice as likely to have students expressing anti-Zionism, which is “very strongly linked to acts of Israel-related peer-on-peer harassment.”
AMCHA’s 2019 study, “The Harassment of Jewish Students on U.S. Campuses: How Eliminationist Anti-Zionism and Academic BDS Incite Campus Anti-Semitism,” revealed a dramatic increase in faculty participation in academic BDS promotion and Israel-related anti-Semitic expression from 2017 to 2018.
The number of incidents of academic BDS promotion or attempted implementation involving individual faculty or academic departments nearly quadrupled; the number of events sponsored by academic departments that contained the demonization or delegitimization of Israel increased by 85%; and the number of departmentally-sponsored events at which speakers advocated for or condoned violence against Israel or Israel’s elimination nearly tripled.
“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,” the authors concluded.
AMCHA monitors 450 college campuses across the US for anti-Semitic activity. The organization has recorded more than 3,000 anti-Semitic incidents on college campuses since 2015.