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March 20, 2016 3:19 pm

Columbia Faculty Members Release Letter Supporting University’s Ties to Israel, Following Petition by Colleagues Backing BDS

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Columbia University.   Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Columbia University. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Faculty members at Columbia on Sunday released a letter, bearing 235 signatures, supporting the University’s ties to Israel, The Algemeiner has learned.

The letter comes in response to a petition posted earlier this month that supported the Apartheid Divest movement launched at Columbia in February. That petition had 69 faculty signatures as of press time.

Judith Jacobson, a faculty member at the School of Public Health, told The Algemeiner that the letter was drafted by David Schizer, former dean of the Columbia Law School, and that she and others helped circulate it for signatures.

She said the letter was mailed to Columbia President Lee Bollinger and Board of Trustees Chair Jonathan Schiller. It was also posted on a website developed by Columbia undergraduates called InvestInPeace, that calls for a two-state solution and opposes the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel.

The letter began:

As members of the faculty of Columbia University, we write to express our commitment to the university’s ties with Israel. Israel is a thriving democracy. It has democratic elections, a free press, rule of law, and strong protections for the individual rights of all citizens, including Arabs as well as Jews. Israel also is the home of great universities, a vibrant culture, and an innovative high-tech sector. Given these shared values and interests, Columbia benefits from ties with Israeli faculty, students, research, and technology.

After providing a brief summary of the complexities of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, it continued:

It would not be just or principled to respond to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by disengaging from Israel or from companies that do business with Israel. It would be unjust to blame only one side for this conflict, and unprincipled to single out Israel for this sanction, while maintaining ties with other nations that – unlike Israel – are undemocratic, repressive, and much less restrained in their use of force.

The Algemeiner reached out to President Bollinger for comment, but had not received a response by press time.

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  • Elizabeth Irwin

    Why is there no link to the list of those who signed the petition?

  • Dina (Dian) Grossman Kjaergaard

    EoZ did an interesting analysis – I quote:

    Of the 69 Columbia professors who signed a pro-BDS petition. 15 of them work in the anthropology department, six in philosophy, 13 in Middle East studies, two in Gender & Sexuality Studies, four in art history, six in history and eight in English, and only one in law.

    The pro-Israel petition, on the other hand, has 26 signatures from the College of Physicians and Surgeons, 75 from the Columbia Medical Center, 27 from the Law School, and many others in the engineering and other medical fields.

    In other words, the professors who support Israel are overwhelmingly specialists in fields where the truth often means the difference between life and death, and the ones who are anti-Israel largely do their work in fields where truth is a quaint and elastic concept.

    End of quote

  • Marion Abramowitz

    Sanity has finally found vocal chords at Columbia University. Columbia University represents a major intellectual community in a major diverse city. The Columbia voice is significant and most recently the voice of radicalism and anti-Israael expression was the only one we heard. This voice is a welcome sound toward untangling an extremely complex and dangerous situation.

  • Sheldon W

    Thank you Columbia University faculty! Here’s hoping more university faculties will have the guts to stand up for the only democratic and moral State in a region that is a cesspool of hatred.


    Thank you for your support!

  • Barry

    “It would be unjust to only blame one side for this conflict”?

    I have no such problem. I’ll blame the Palestinians for this present round and every other round as well.

  • Finally someone at Columbia is doing the just and right thing. I’m a survivor of the Edward Said days in the English department. As a Jew it was a miserable place to matriculate. I’m exploring these feelings in a novel.

  • Morton Isaacs

    As a graduate of Columbia University, I had written a letter condemning those faculty members who had signed the BDS one-sided propaganda petition against the State of Israel, and I am happy to see that saner heads have prevailed. Any impartial analysis shows that Israel has extended a hand in peace toward the Palestinians many times, only to have its proposals rejected without reasonable alternatives offered. As Golda Meir said, “Peace will come when the Arabs love their children more than they hate the Jews”.