Cal State University-Northridge Says Anti-Israel Prof Klein Does Not Have Permission to Use School Servers to Advance Boycott
by Joshua Levitt
After an intense letter-writing campaign and in-person pleas by AMCHA Initiative, a national organization fighting anti-Semitism on college campuses, California State University’s interim general counsel, Andrew Jones, has affirmed that CSU-Northridge mathematics professor David Klein has not been granted express permission to use school email and web hosting to support a boycott of Israel.
In a statement, AMCHA co-founder Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, said, “Our claim is that in posting his ‘Boycott Israel Resource Page‘ on the CSUN server Klein is in violation of Section C, whose wording is crystal clear: to display the CSU name or any of its variants for the purpose of supporting, endorsing, or advancing any boycott, without the permission of the CSU Trustees, is a violation of [California State Education Code] 89005.5.”
While the school said that it had not granted its permission, it claimed that it did not believe Klein had broken the law, writing that “Klein has not violated 89005.5 on the grounds that ‘it is unlikely that a reasonable person would interpret the ‘Boycott Israel’ web page as an endorsement of CSU or CSUN of the material contained therein.'”
AMCHA responded to the general counsel, who, it alleges, is conflating two elements of the legislation, saying, “We believe he has conflated two separate sections of Cal. Educ. Code 89005.5(a)(2), one which refers to using the CSU name for commercial purposes (Section B) and another which refers to using the CSU name for ideological or political purposes, including the promotion of boycott (Section C).”
The legal battle at CSU-Northridge reflects the anti-Israel activism and anti-Semitism on California university campuses across the state. Last year, support from Jewish groups and human rights organizations led the California State Assembly to unanimously approve a resolution recognizing that “student- and faculty-sponsored boycott, divestment, and sanction campaigns against Israel” are a form of campus anti-Semitism. But, AMCHA alleges, the resolution is being ignored at CSU-Northridge, where Jewish mathematics professor David Klein has been using the school’s internet server to host his personal webpage, promoting the economic, academic, and cultural boycott of Israel.
The professor’s faculty website links to a separate page he created, titled “Boycott Israel Resource Page,” and also hosted on the www.csun.edu server, as the faculty adviser for the CSUN’s Students for Justice in Palestine and for the CSUN Greens, of which he notes that the “U.S. Green party has endorsed BDS and the academic and cultural boycott of Israel.”
The “Boycott Israel Resource Page” lists internet links to petitions against Israel, news and opinion articles in support of boycotts, and affirms many typical canards, blatant inaccuracies and hate speech directed against Israel, as defined by major human rights organizations.
“This man teaches math, not history or middle east studies, or with any expertise about the issue, so this is purely political, personal, and has no bearing on academic freedom; this is complete abuse,” Rossman-Benjamin told The Algemeiner in an interview last week. “Political activism, or what we should call political indoctrination, should not, in any way, be part of the academy.”
“Everybody knows that we have freedom of speech in the United States, that we should want to say something to express ourselves. And we are free to use our own Gmail accounts, for example, or pay for an inexpensive, privately-registered website to express our views, but Klein has chosen to use the university name and resources to promote his political causes, and that is not permitted.”
“I disagree with the whole concept of using the university’s public resources for political or personal resources,” Rossman-Benjamin said. “It’s wrong.”