Dear Prof. Beckwith:
In response to your inquiry, I am providing you a statement from Prof. Anthony Cascardi, Director of the Townsend Center for the Humanities, which I endorse.
Dear Chancellor Birgeneau:
- Despite Prof. Cascardi’s efforts to minimize UC Berkeley’s connection to tonight’s event, “What Can American Academia Do to Realize Justice for Palestinians?”, he nevertheless confirms that connection by acknowledging the fact that the Muslim Identities and Cultures working group is indeed a co-sponsor of the event. He states that “the co-sponsorship is for the purposes of publicity,” which means UCB gave its imprimatur to the event, and even more, that the organizers actually exploited their university connection to promote a boycott of Israeli academics and academic institutions. The fact that the Muslim Identities and Cultures working group is only one of 50 working groups and gets little money is irrelevant. The university is still associated with this event and therefore responsible for helping to promote the boycott effort.
- Moreover, Prof. Cascardi tries to further distance UCB from the event by claiming it is a “MECA event”. But this is not the case. The UCB Students for Justice in Palestine is the the event’s primary sponsor, and by virtue of the fact that the SJP is an official student group, your university is once again officially associated with efforts to promote an academic boycott of Israel.
- Prof. Cascardi claims that the Townsend Center “does not endorse political agendas but rather provides space for open conversation,” adding that the center “would not fund any group that might act other than in a spirit of intellectual openness.” However, it is self-evident that this event is not promoting intellectual openness or debate. Instead, there is every reason to conclude that it will advocate the academic boycott of Israel. Indeed Professor Bacchetta, faculty representative of the Muslim Identities and Cultures working group, is herself an endorser of the U.S. Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, as are the invited speakers and co-sponsoring groups. Prof. Bacchetta appears to be using her university position to promote an egregiously one-sided, virulently anti-Israel political agenda.
- Despite Prof. Cascardi’s assurance that the Muslim Identities and Cultures working group claims that it is “not endorsing any position that could be construed as hateful of any religious or ethnic group,” the academic boycott promoted by this event would discriminate against students and faculty at the University of California on the basis of national origin, religious, and/or ethnic identity, thereby violating our state and federal anti-discrimination and civil rights laws.
- The boycott of Israeli scholars is an infringement of academic freedom.
- The anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement is antisemitic according to the Working Definition of Antisemitism of the European Monitoring Center on Racism and Xenophobia as adopted by the U.S. State Department.
- The BDS campaign contributes to a hostile environment for Jewish students on your campus.
- The BDS campaign defies the UC Regents’ stated policy that boycott, divestment, and sanctions will be used only against countries that the U.S. government deems genocidal.
- Promoting an extension of the Arab boycott against Israel is a violation of U.S. law.
- sever the university’s involvement with this event by ensuring that the Townsend Center withdraws its co-sponsorship;
- publicly inform the UCB community of your action and the reasons for it;
- issue a public condemnation of the BDS campaign on your campus.
UCB Chancellor Birgeneau: email@example.com
UC President Yudof: President@ucop.edu
The UC Regents: firstname.lastname@example.org
Anthony J. Cascardi, Director of the Townsend Center for the
Humanities at UCB: email@example.com
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