(Los Angeles, California - March 14, 2019) -- StandWithUs applauds Pitzer College President Melvin Oliver for strongly rejecting a recommendation by the Pitzer College Council to suspend a study abroad program at Haifa University. The non-binding motion passed in the College Council with a vote of 68 in favor, 25 against, and 8 abstaining. Shortly afterwards Oliver rejected the motion, stating that, "I am refusing to permit Pitzer College to take a position that I believe will only harm the College." "If this motion were truly about ethical standards for study abroad, they would have started with Pitzer programs in Lebanon and China rather than targeting one of the most diverse universities in the only functioning democracy in the Middle East," said Max Samarov, Executive Director of Research & Strategy at StandWithUs. “In reality, this vote was designed to push a narrow anti-Israel agenda that harms students, violates academic freedom, and fuels more conflict and injustice in the Middle East. By rejecting this discriminatory recommendation, President Oliver ensured that Pitzer will not fall on the wrong side of history.” Academic boycotts have been widely condemned for undermining academic freedom, the free exchange of ideas, and educational opportunities for students. Furthermore, the campaign against Israel includes an explicit effort to shut down cooperation between Israelis and Palestinians. The Pitzer motion only added fuel to this unjust cause and sought to limit the ability of students to interact with and learn about Israelis and Palestinians. Equally troubling was the fact that the Pitzer motion targeted democratic Israel, while staying silent on study abroad programs in Lebanon, China, Kyrgyzstan, Turkey, and other states ruled by repressive regimes. In Lebanon, for example, LGBTQ people are criminalized and all travelers with an Israeli passport are denied entry or even arrested. Additionally, Palestinians in Lebanon face severe institutional discrimination. It was clear that the motion was not about applying an equal standard to study abroad programs, but rather engaging in a political attack against the world's only Jewish state. StandWithUs applauds President Oliver and Pitzer students who stood strong in the face of this hateful campaign. We will continue to work together with Hillel, ICC, and our other partners to support the Jewish and pro-Israel community at Pitzer and beyond.
About StandWithUs StandWithUs (SWU) is a seventeen year-old, international, non-profit Israel education organization. Through university fellowships, high school internships, middle school curricula, conferences, materials, social media, educational films and missions to Israel, StandWithUs supports people around the world who want to educate their schools and communities about Israel. Based in Los Angeles, the organization has chapters throughout the U.S., in Israel, the UK, Canada and Brazil. www.standwithus.com and https://www.facebook.com/StandWithUs and https://www.twitter.com/StandWithUs