September 25, 2018
We, the undersigned alumni of the University of Michigan, write to express our strong support for John Cheney-Lippold in his refusal to support Israeli academic institutions in solidarity with Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions, and to express our opposition to the University of Michigan’s longstanding position on this issue, a position that puts it at odds with international law, the constitutionally protected right to boycott, and its own non-discrimination policy.
We admire the incredible courage that University students, faculty and staff show when they refuse to capitulate to the dominant U.S. legal, political and social institutions that coerce support for the illegal and immoral occupation of Palestine and the Golan Heights region of Syria. Palestinian civil society organizations first called for others to adopt the non-violent strategy of boycott against Israeli academic institutions in 2004. Israeli universities have been directly complicit in the ongoing occupation through their development of military and surveillance technologies and through their regular violation of the academic freedoms of Palestinians living in Israel, in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and in diaspora. For example, many Israeli universities suppress Palestinian identities and history in their curricula, repress political activism regarding the occupation, and discipline Palestinian students who speak out. Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip face substantial barriers to accessing education as a result of the brutality of the occupation. In addition, study abroad programs in Israel effectively have de facto racial and national discrimination as a pre-condition for participation, as Palestinian, Arab, and Muslim travelers are routinely interrogated, detained, and deported by Israeli authorities upon entry into the country. As David Lloyd writes on Mondoweiss.net, “any Study Abroad program that sends students to Israel openly violates anti-discrimination and equal opportunity policies,” including the University of Michigan’s own non-discrimination policy, which prohibits discrimination “in employment, educational programs and activities, and admissions.”
As graduates of the University of Michigan, we assert that the University does not speak for us when it expresses its “opposition to any boycott of Israeli institutions of higher education.” We laud and encourage University of Michigan students, faculty and staff who act in solidarity with Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions, and we pledge to support them however we are able.
We call on the University of Michigan to reverse its longstanding position on this issue and instead join us in boycotting and divesting from Israel.
Toward a better University and a better world,
The Undersigned Alumni of the University of Michigan, https://tinyurl.com/yad2jtld