Statement about Pledge of Non-Cooperation with Study Abroad Program in Israel
In the Fall of 2018, a large group of Social and Cultural Analysis undergraduates sent a letter to the department's officers asking faculty to consider a resolution of non-cooperation with the university’s study-abroad program in Tel Aviv. Subsequently, an equally large number of graduate students wrote their own letter in support of the initiative. Over the course of the academic year, and in accord with departmental process, faculty discussed the issue at several meetings. At the last department meeting of the year, by a large majority vote, the faculty passed the resolution of non-cooperation. The department’s members took this step in order to uphold NYU’s own Policy on Ethical Conduct, which prohibits discrimination and guarantees equal opportunity. Israel has a longstanding practice of barring entry to persons of Palestinian descent, and its recent amendments to the Law of Entry prohibit entry to members of groups that are critical of government policies. Many members of the NYU community (including members of the department) are affected by these policies and are effectively unable to access NYU’s program in Tel Aviv. The resolution seeks to protect the department from complicity with these forms of racial, religious, and political profiling.
Queries can be directed to:
Andrew Ross, Director of American Studies at firstname.lastname@example.org
Dean Saranillio, Director of Undergraduate Studies at email@example.com
Benjamin Zinevich, SCA senior, JVP, SJP at firstname.lastname@example.org
Rose Asaf, SCA senior, JVP, SJP at email@example.com
Resolution of Non-Cooperation with NYU-Tel Aviv
Faculty and student members of the Department of Social and Cultural Analysis seek at all times to uphold this university’s basic principles of non-discrimination and equal opportunity in our relationships with other NYU departments and programs. We feel that these principles, set forth in the Code of Ethical Conduct, are being effectively violated in the operation of NYU’s study abroad program in Tel Aviv. Access to the program is clearly being obstructed by Israel’s long-standing discriminatory policies (as acknowledged by the State Department) of barring entry to Palestinians or persons of Arab descent and Muslim heritage, and by the recent amendments to its Law of Entry, which advocate for the exclusion of persons on account of their political speech. Moreover, the Israeli government routinely prevents Palestinian students from enrolling in higher education institutions outside of the West Bank and Gaza.
The NYU administration has indicated its disagreement with the Israeli state's policy of barring entry based on political speech. However, in noting that "no NYU student has been prevented from going to Israel," the administration fails to take into account the Palestinian members of the NYU community from the West Bank and Gaza who are unable to enter Israel, in addition to those with American citizenship who have been banned based on their Palestinian heritage and political activity. Participating in the program while members of our own department are barred entry to their homeland and sites of research serves to reproduce the racial inequalities of Israel's policies in our own workplace.
We pledge non-cooperation with the Tel Aviv program until (a) the Israeli state ends its restrictions on entry based on ancestry and political speech and (b) the Israeli state adopts policies granting visas for exchanges to Palestinian universities on a fully equal basis as it does to Israeli universities.
We urge other departments to pass similar resolutions in the spirit of abiding by NYU’s Code of Ethical Conduct and opposing racial and religious profiling on campus.
**According to the amendment, the excluded groups include
American Friends Service Committee, American Muslims for Palestine, Code Pink, Jewish Voice for Peace, National Students for Justice in Palestine, US Campaign for Palestinian Rights, and the BDS National Committee.
N.B. Students for Justice in Palestine and Jewish Voice for Peace have chapters at NYU and many SCA students are members.
Implementing the Resolution
In accord with the pledge of non-cooperation referenced in the Resolution, the Department of Social and Cultural Analysis (SCA) will not officially sponsor faculty teaching at NYU’s Tel Aviv study-abroad program, nor will it utilize any of its resources to facilitate faculty exchanges between the department and the program.
Because the department fully respects the academic freedom of its faculty and student members, it cannot and will not proscribe faculty and student use of the NYU-Tel Aviv site for research. As with any other global NYU site, NYU students do not require permission, or letters of recommendation, to study abroad at NYU-Tel Aviv. However, the department encourages its faculty and student members to act in the spirit of noncooperation outlined in the Resolution.
Questions about the Resolution
Has SCA been affected in any way by Israel’s restrictions on entry?
Yes. Members of the department’s academic community have been denied entry. In addition, many SCA members—faculty, graduate students, and undergraduates—have been profiled on the notorious Canary Mission blacklist, which Israeli authorities consult to screen for entry. Many others, who are not profiled on that site, are members of groups on the list of those banned under the amendments to the Law of Entry.
Will SCA faculty and students be penalized in any way if they travel to Israel/Palestine?
The resolution does not affect anyone’s travel to Israel or the Occupied Territories.
Is the department violating its institutional obligations to function as an NYU unit?
At NYU, each department can choose which global sites it works with. That choice is made on the basis of available resources, faculty and student interest in the site, and regional relevance to the department’s priorities. Departments also have the obligation to act to protect their own members. At least one other NYU department—Journalism—chose to cease cooperation with NYU-Abu Dhabi, after one of its faculty members was denied entry to the UAE. At that time, SCA issued a statement encouraging faculty and students to refrain from participation until NYU can guarantee equal access to all at its global sites.
Doesn’t this resolution curtail the academic freedom of faculty members?
It does not abridge faculty and student speech rights or mobility in any way. In fact, the status quo (the entry restrictions put in place by Israeli authorities) is a flagrant limitation of the academic freedom of those who cannot travel to study at NYU-Tel Aviv and do their research in the region. The resolution seeks to protect the department and its members from the harm of cooperating with a program that operates in the shadow of racial, religious, and political profiling.
Has SCA adopted a BDS resolution?
Technically no, since NYU-Tel Aviv is not an Israeli institution and does not depend on state funding. Nor does the resolution appeal directly to the principles of the BDS movement. Its chief rationale is that, because of Israeli laws and practices, the effective operation of NYU-Tel Aviv is in violation of NYU’s own Policy of Ethical Conduct on nondiscrimination and equal opportunity. In other words, the resolution seeks to uphold the university’s own policies.
Why single out NYU-Tel Aviv, and not include NYU-Abu Dhabi for example?
The Israeli state has singled itself out through its recent amendments to the Law of Entry, and through its consistent denial of access to those of Palestinian descent. While the UAE regularly restricts entry for reasons of “national security,” and while academic freedom is routinely violated at NYU-Abu Dhabi, the UAE has no publicly articulated policy that bars entry to population groups to which NYU faculty and students belong.