Faculty who support the academic boycott of Israel are actively promoting BDS directly to students in their classrooms, according to a report released last week by the campus watchdog AMCHA Initiative.
The study, which examined 50 syllabi at 40 public and private colleges and universities over an 11-year period, revealed that academic BDS-supporting instructors had an average of 78 percent of their course readings authored by BDS supporters, whereas non-BDS-supporting instructors had an average of 17 percent of their course readings authored by BDS supporters.
The two groups of instructors showed themselves to be qualitatively distinct from one another with respect to the selection of course readings, with almost no overlap of the groups. All of the academic BDS-supporting instructors had a majority of their readings authored by BDS supporters, whereas only two of the 35 syllabi of non-BDS-supporting instructors had a majority of their course readings authored by BDS supporters, and none more than 60 percent.
“The stark difference between the average percentage of course readings with pro-BDS authors in the syllabi of academic BDS-supporting instructors (78 percent) and in the syllabi of instructors who had not expressed public support for any kind of BDS (17 percent) – with almost no overlap between these two groups – leaves little doubt that instructors who support academic BDS make a calculated choice to heavily weight their course materials with readings authored by BDS supporters,” wrote the authors.
They suggested that these results, in turn, imply that not only are academic boycotting instructors including pro-BDS readings, they are also “severely limiting or completely excluding readings that would provide a more balanced picture of Israel.”
In their report, “Bringing BDS Into the Classroom,” the authors fully acknowledged that “freedom of speech protects faculty’s right to sign petitions and make extramural statements in support of academic BDS, and academic freedom generally protects their right to develop and teach courses as they see fit.” However, they also raised serious and undeniably harmful consequences of “politically motivated faculty weaponizing their course curricula.”
They noted that “distorting and blocking the flow of knowledge” is a violation of “the norms and standards of scholarly inquiry,” and undermines “the university’s academic mission.” The researchers also wrote that “faculty who use their classrooms to give academic legitimacy to a wholly one-sided, anti-Israel perspective.”