Faculty at Claremont’s Pitzer College Votes to Suspend Israel Program in Support of Palestinian Rights

Pitzer College posted this image of the campus on its website on Sept. 9, 2018.

Pitzer College posted this image of the campus on its website on Sept. 9, 2018.

Pitzer College faculty have voted to suspend a study abroad program in Israel, sparking widespread controversy over what is believed to be the nation’s first such campus action in support of Palestinian rights.

The program with the University of Haifa is tiny — only 11 students have participated since it began in 2007 — but its potential suspension has sparked outsized response from those who hail it as a human rights breakthrough and others who say it unfairly singles out Israel and denies academic opportunities to Pitzer students.

Faculty and students on a college governing council will vote next semester on whether to support last month’s faculty decision at the small liberal arts college in Claremont. Last week, Pitzer President Melvin L. Oliver condemned the vote at the governing council meeting, saying it was a repudiation of the college’s educational mission to promote intercultural understanding.

But Daniel Segal, the anthropology and history professor who spearheaded the motion, said the college should stand against Israel’s restrictions on academic exchange, including a 2017 law to bar entry to those who support boycotts, divestment or sanctions against the Jewish state. The faculty motion calls for the study abroad program to be resumed only after Israel ends its entry restrictions based on “ancestry and/or political speech” and begins to grant visas for exchanges to Palestinian universities on a “fully equal basis”to those it grants for exchanges to Israeli ones.

Read the full story on LATimes.com.