In a blow to anti-Israel activists, the chancellor of California State University (CSU) is disregarding a letter sent last month asking him not to reinstate an Israel Study Abroad Program.
CSU Northridge Professor David Klein organized a campaign which garnered signatures from more than 80 CSU faculty and staff and dozens of students.
The letter cites "Recognized leaders and prominent intellectuals [who] have compared Israel's treatment of Palestinians to Apartheid in South Africa." For years anti-Israel activists have tried to delegitimize the State of Israel with the fallacy that Israel is an "apartheid state," while disregarding the fact that Arab-Israelis can vote, serve in the Israeli parliament and on the Supreme Court, and can be found in nearly every sphere of Israeli life.
The letter also argues that there are "Additional dangers to U.S. citizens" from "Israeli military forces." One example cited is the death of Furkan Dogan, who was "on the humanitarian aid flotilla."
Dogan was a Turkish-American and one of the nine killed during the May 2010 flotilla to Gaza. He was on the boat of the Mavi Marmara, belonging to the Islamist Turkish organization IHH. Leaders of the IHH-owned ship launched a premeditated attack on Israeli commandos when the Israeli Navy attempted to intercept the ship before it reached Gaza. Following repeated warnings, Israeli commandos boarded the ship and were immediately attacked with clubs, knives, hammers and other weapons. IHH has extensive ties to Hamas and is under consideration for designation by the U.S. State Department.
Signatories of the letter include members and leaders of the radical group Students for Justice in Palestine and the Islamic student group Muslim Students Association, created by the American Muslim Brotherhood. Another signatory, Zahra Billoo, is the Executive Director for the Council on American-Islamic Relations San Francisco Bay Area (CAIR-SFBA).
But the argument failed to sway Chancellor Charles Reed. "Ideally, we want to give students the opportunity to study abroad wherever they want," CSU spokesman Erik Fallis said.
The CSU Israel Study Abroad Program was suspended in 2002 following a travel warning issued by the U.S. State Department in the wake of the second Intifada. The program resumes this fall and is open to students at CSU's 23 campuses across California.