The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) sent a letter yesterday to Kevin M. Guskiewicz, the Chancellor of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC), urging UNC to cancel a course this fall (titled “The Conflict over Israel/Palestine”) that will be taught by an instructor who denies Israel’s right to exist, says that boycotting Israel is “the only choice,” and touts her intolerance for anyone who disagrees with her false and hateful anti-Israel views. The ZOA advised the Chancellor that failure to cancel the course with this instructor would violate the terms of the Resolution Agreement that UNC signed in order to resolve the issues raised in an April 2019 complaint the ZOA filed against UNC with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR).
In that complaint, the ZOA alleged that UNC created a hostile environment for Jewish students in violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, in connection with an “academic” conference that UNC co-sponsored and hosted on March 22-24, 2019. The conference – titled “Conflict over Gaza: People, Politics and Possibilities” – was one-sided and hostile to Israel, the ZOA alleged. In addition, it featured a rap singer who performed an offensive antisemitic song and encouraged the conference attendees to join in – and disgracefully, they did.
Before OCR could complete its investigation of the ZOA’s Title VI complaint, UNC expressed a willingness to resolve the ZOA’s allegations. On October 14, 2019, UNC signed a Resolution Agreement which required it to take several steps, including “all steps reasonably designed to ensure that students enrolled in the University are not subjected to a hostile environment.”
UNC will be in breach of the Resolution Agreement, the ZOA informed Chancellor Guskiewicz in yesterday’s letter, if it continues to ignore the many justifiable concerns that have been raised about the course proceeding with an instructor who has made it clear that her false and hateful views about Israel are the right and only acceptable ones. “Jewish students, pro-Israel students, and other students who do not share this Israel-basher’s views will thus surely be subjected to a hostile environment in this class, in violation of the Resolution Agreement,” the ZOA wrote.
Morton A. Klein, ZOA National President, and Susan B. Tuchman, Esq., the Director of the ZOA’s Center for Law and Justice, urged Chancellor Guskiewicz to take action right away: “It’s completely baffling that the Chancellor has claimed to be ‘confident’ that students in this instructor’s course will benefit from what he actually described as a ‘thoughtful presentation of information.’ The instructor has shown nothing but contempt for views that aren’t hateful and hostile to Israel. There is no question that her classroom will feel hostile and unwelcoming to Jewish students, pro-Israel students, and any student who dares to question the instructor’s hateful views.
“We urge UNC to replace the instructor with someone who will teach the facts and not push a personal anti-Israel agenda, and who will welcome all students’ points of view. If he does not, the ZOA will report UNC’s breach of the Resolution Agreement to OCR.”