Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) commended Pitzer College President Melvin I. Oliver today for vetoing the recommendation by the College Council (comprised of faculty, students and staff) to suspend Pitzer’s study-abroad program with the University of Haifa in Israel.
In a thoughtful and detailed message to the Pitzer community yesterday, President Oliver emphasized that his responsibility as president “is always to do what I believe to be in the best interests of Pitzer College, and I have concluded that to implement the Council’s recommendation would not meet that test” and in fact would “only harm the College.”
President Oliver reasoned that if implemented, the recommendation would violate the academic freedom of students to study wherever they wish, contrary to Pitzer’s values, and would constitute an academic boycott of Israel, which he “categorically oppose[s].”
President Oliver also stressed that “the recommendation itself is prejudiced” because it singles out Israel and, if implemented, would “unnecessarily alienate a large cross section of the College’s constituencies.”
Morton A. Klein, the ZOA’s National President, and Susan B. Tuchman, Esq., Director of the ZOA’s Center for Law and Justice, praised President Oliver for rejecting the College Council’s anti-Semitic, anti-Israel resolution: “President Oliver exercised exemplary leadership by rejecting the recommendation, plainly understanding what it was truly about – that it amounted to an anti-Israel boycott motivated by bigotry, that it would impair students’ educational opportunities in violation of the College’s core values, and that it would irreparably harm the community and the College’s reputation.
“We thank President Oliver for standing up to anti-Semitism and Israel-bashing among his faculty, students and staff, which have no place on any U.S. campus. President Oliver is a model for other college leaders across the country who are facing similar discriminatory calls for boycotting Israel, America’s ally and the only thriving democracy in the Middle East.”