University prez urged to protect Jewish students

University prez urged to protect Jewish students

University prez urged to protect Jewish students

An anti-Semitism group has joined in a group letter to the president of Virginia Tech after graduate students there demanded the school implement an academic boycott of Israel.

The anti-Israel movement on the campuses of U.S. universities continues to build. In a recent example, the Graduate and Professional Student Senate at Virginia Tech (formally known as Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University) passed a resolution endorsing the Boycott, Divest, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel.

"Therefore, be it resolved that the Virginia Tech administrators and employees who sit on the board of the Virginia Tech Foundation immediately begin to implement the academic and cultural boycott of Israel …," the resolution states in part.

In response, 79 institutions sent a letter to Virginia Tech president Tim Sands expressing their deep concern how the boycott will affect the lessons of the graduate teaching assistants at VT. AMCHA Initiative was among the signatories to the letter. AMCHA co-founder and director Tammi Rossman-Benjamin explains the group's concerns.

Rossman-Benjamin, Tammi (AMCHA Initiative) Rossman-Benjamin

"You can't teach anything positive about Israel," she tells AFN. "It means that everything that you teach about Israel or that you expose your students to is negative – [and is done] to delegitimize Israel, to demonize Israel."

VT president Sands, she argues, issued a totally inadequate statement following the vote by the graduate senate.

"He didn't condemn the boycott, he didn't reject the boycott – but more importantly he didn't acknowledge, at any point, what an academic boycott is and how antithetical it is to everything a university stands for," Rossman-Benjamin states.

The letter calls on Sands to unequivocally reject the resolution demanding the university implement an academic boycott of Israel; and to remind graduate teaching assistants they are prohibited from using their positions for political advocacy and activism.