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Business News/ News / World/  California University Sees Backlash Over Israel Academic Boycott
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California University Sees Backlash Over Israel Academic Boycott

Sonoma State University, a public liberal arts college in California, is facing criticism for an agreement with pro-Palestinian protesters that includes an academic boycott of Israel and a role for student activists to enforce the deal.

California University Sees Backlash Over Israel Academic BoycottPremium
California University Sees Backlash Over Israel Academic Boycott

Sonoma State University, a public liberal arts college in California, is facing criticism for an agreement with pro-Palestinian protesters that includes an academic boycott of Israel and a role for student activists to enforce the deal.

The agreement, announced late Tuesday by Sonoma State President Mike Lee and campus activists, stipulates the institution will not pursue formal academic collaborations with Israeli institutions, including study abroad programs. 

The school has also committed to creating a divestment strategy that “includes ethical alternatives," but it stopped short of agreeing to divest Israel-linked entities from the university’s endowment.

“None of us should be on the sidelines when human beings are subject to mass killing and destruction," Lee said in a message to the campus community. 

Read More: Harvard Protests End With Whimper as Divestment Demands Fail 

The move by Sonoma State follows nationwide efforts by colleges to address weeks-long pro-Palestinian encampments on campuses that has disrupted academic schedules and led to scaled-back graduation ceremonies. While universities such as Harvard, Rutgers and Northwestern have engaged with activists, they’ve rejected demands to divest from Israeli assets or defense stocks, citing the complexity of investment structures, donor concerns and potential legal issues.

With the latest agreement, Sonoma State, which is located near the vineyards of Napa Valley, appears to go beyond what other major US universities have so far conceded to.

State Senator Scott Wiener, an outspoken critic of the campus protests, said in a social media post on Wednesday that the agreement “aligned the campus with BDS" — referring to the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement against Israel.

The movement has been criticized as antisemitic because it calls into question the legitimacy of the Jewish state. Advocates for Palestine argue that boycotts and divestments represent one of the few non-violent tactics to pressure Israel to halt its retaliatory attack on Gaza, which the Hamas-run health ministry says has killed over 30,000 people. 

Read More: Student Protesters Walk Out on Seinfeld as Graduations Start 

A particularly contentious part of the Sonoma State agreement designates Students for Justice in Palestine, a campus student group, as the sole authority to appoint members to a new advisory group tasked with overseeing the agreement’s implementation along with administration staff.

On Tuesday night, the Sonoma State chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine took to Instagram to declare that its demands were met.

Sonoma State, based in Rohnert Park in Sonoma County, is one of the smaller institutions within the 23-campus California State University network, which is the largest four-year public university system in the US.

With assistance from Janet Lorin.

This article was generated from an automated news agency feed without modifications to text.

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Published: 16 May 2024, 02:07 AM IST
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