May 12, 2016

Letter: Faculty, Students, Alumni, and Others Condemn Divestment Resolution

As students, alumni, and faculty of the University of Chicago, we condemn the approval of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) resolution by the University of Chicago College Council on April 12, 2016, and are disappointed by their refusal to remove explicit references to the global BDS movement from the resolution. While many of us differ in our political and ideological views on Israeli policies, we are united in believing that the BDS movement is detrimental to achieving peace in the region, which involves recognizing the rights of both Israelis and Palestinians.

The BDS movement rejects Jewish self-determination and advocates a solution to the conflict that, in its founder’s words, "would end Israel’s existence as a Jewish state.” By assigning blame for the conflict to Israel alone, BDS espouses an overtly one-sided approach and oversimplifies a complex issue. The vilification of Israel by BDS simply incites hatred and contributes nothing to achieving a peaceful solution in the region. BDS aims to undermine the Jewish presence in the region and harms Palestinians who benefit from economic cooperation with Israeli businesses.

Furthermore, we are appalled that the College Council rejected the proposal to include a clause in the resolution recognizing the right to Jewish self-determination and the continued existence of the State of Israel. In contrast, we firmly embrace peace, prosperity, and self-determination for both peoples. The College Council’s refusal to acknowledge the historical ties of the Jewish people to the land is disrespectful and baseless.

The College Council’s vote went beyond legitimate criticism of Israel and attacked the very existence of a Jewish state. The vote does not represent us in any way and leaves many students feeling alienated from their peers and unwelcome in the College community. We welcome the statement issued by the University of Chicago on April 14, 2016, which reaffirms that the University will not divest from companies doing business in Israel, and that it opposes academic boycotts aimed at specific nations, including Israel.

The BDS movement is antagonistic to the achievement of a peaceful solution in the region—including a two-state solution—and we refuse to yield to its divisive policies. We embrace the promotion of mutual understanding, constructive dialogue, and peace and prosperity for everyone in the region. We affirm the right to a Jewish homeland and the continued existence of Israel as a Jewish democratic state.

— Signed by over 500 faculty members, students, alumni, friends, and family, including these current faculty members: Robert Haselkorn, Ben Roitberg, Diane Altkorn, Susan Glick, David Frim, Michael H. Davidson, Mitchell C. Posner, Dorit Koren, David Rubin, Abraham Dachman, Ronald Cohen, Edwin Kaplan, Louis Philipson, Daniel Mass, Sam Peltzman, Dennis W. Carlton, Steven N. Kaplan, Yoad Shefi, Robert Vishny, Milton Harris, Simeon Chavel, Nadav Klein, Bruce D. Meyer, Paula R. Worthington, Josef Stern, Martha C. Nussbaum, Michael D. Sher, Lisa Bernstein, Sylvia Neil, David Weisbach, Mark J Heyrman, George Glauberman, Laszlo Babai, David Schuster, Melvyn Shochet, Gary Toback, Robert M. Wolfe, Charles Lipson, Nancy L. Stein, Nathan Tarcov, and Linda J. Waite. View the full list of signatories here.

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