USACBI: Resisting attacks on supporters of boycott – defend Dr. David Klein

The US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (USACBI) is appalled by the attacks taking place against our colleague, and member of our Organizing Committee, Dr. David Klein of California State University – Northridge.

Dr. Klein hosts an informative website (http://www.csun.edu/~vcmth00m/boycott.html) that provides extensive resources concerning the global movement for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel, and material of particular information to the CSU community. BDS was initiated by Palestinian civil society organizations in 2005 “to call upon international civil society organizations and people of conscience all over the world to impose broad boycotts and implement divestment initiatives against Israel similar to those applied to South Africa in the apartheid era. We appeal to you to pressure your respective states to impose embargoes and sanctions against Israel. We also invite conscientious Israelis to support this Call, for the sake of justice and genuine peace.” (for the full BDS call, please see www.bdsmovement.net).

In addition, Dr. Klein is one of the initiators of a faculty, student and staff letter at California State University calling for a Study Abroad program in Israel to not be resumed (http://www.csun.edu/~vcmth00m/studyabroad.html), noting that it places Palestinian and Arab CSU students at a risk of discrimination based on race and ethnicity, and that to resume the program at this time “would not reflect well on the CSU’s commitment to the universal right to education. Israel has consistently violated its obligation under Article 50 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which requires the Occupying Power to facilitate the proper functioning of educational institutions in occupied territories. Israel remains the Occupying Power because it retains effective control in all these areas, and exercises this control by making education difficult or impossible for Palestinians in a variety of ways: blockading, besieging and bombing schools and universities; suspending delivery of books and educational supplies; restricting or barring the movement of students, teachers and researchers to their institutions of learning, as well as to travel abroad for educational purposes…”

For his commitment to Palestinian human rights and international justice, Dr. Klein has been the subject of threats, harassment, and disinformation campaigns labeling him and his website as “anti-Semitic” and demanding his voice be silenced and his website removed. Such demands seek to impose fundamental violations of academic freedom upon Dr. Klein and upon all university faculty and students who use the Internet at their universities to communicate and support Palestinian human rights and global justice.

While Dr. Klein is accused of ‘anti-Semitism’ by organizations such as “Never Again Canada” and “AMCHA” who seek to impose their pro-Israel, pro-Zionist politics upon the California State University, there is no content on his website that could even arguably be labeled ‘anti-Semitic’ without the offensive conflation of Jews and Jewishness with the State of Israel, its government, and its motivating ideology, Zionism. Dr. Klein is, like USACBI, an opponent of all forms of racism and discrimination.

Those who oppose racism, discrimination and injustice, have a responsibility to oppose it everywhere. Dr. Klein performs admirable and deeply anti-racist work in his advocacy of justice in Palestine.

This is far from the first occasion of organized pro-Israel lobbies and groups targeting faculty and students for their advocacy for Palestine. From battles over tenure faced by extraordinarily qualified Palestinian professors to unjust firings or demotions of faculty who have spoken in support of Palestine, efforts to intimidate professors are increasing.

As Students for Justice in Palestine noted of their own experiences across the country, “University administrators find themselves under intense pressure from the Israel Lobby when pro-Palestine events occur on campus. It comes in the form of public smearing, alumni pressure, and frivolous lawsuits, as well as U.S. Department of Education investigations that seek to classify criticism of Israel as a violation of students’ civil rights.” (http://sjpnational.org/2011/09/25/stand-irvine-11/) Furthermore, administrators have become complicit in the silencing of student groups who dare to express solidarity with Palestine, including the notorious case of the Irvine 11, in which 10 Muslim Student Union protesters at the University of California – Irvine were criminally charged and prosecuted for their non-violent disruption of a speech given by Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren.

We stand in firm solidarity and support of our colleague and valued member of our Organizing Committee, Dr. David Klein. We urge all supporters of academic freedom and Palestinian human rights to stand with him as well, and to contact CSU Chancellor Charles Reed at creed@calstate.edu to support Dr. Klein and his academic freedom and right to freedom of expression.

US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel

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