Another important initiative

April 9, 2009

In News

By Marcy Newman

March 31, 2009

Michael Cowan, Acting Executive Director
University of California Education Abroad Program
Universitywide Office of EAP
6950 Hollister Avenue, Suite 200

Goleta, CA 93117-5823

RE: Plan to Reopen UC EAP in Israel

Dear Dr. Cowan:

We, the undersigned, are faculty of the University of California and supporters of the Education Abroad Program (EAP). We write to express serious concerns about the plan to restart the UC EAP in Israel at a time when Palestinian education in Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem has been disrupted or made impossible as a result of Israeli policies. If the reopening goes forward, the likelihood that some UC students will face discriminatory treatment if they seek to partake in this program raises additional and separate concerns.

To restart EAP in Israel at this time would not reflect well on the UC’s commitment to the universal right to education. Israel has persistently violated its obligation under Article 50 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which requires the Occupying Power to facilitate the proper functioning of educational institutions in occupied territories. Israel remains the Occupying Power because it retains effective control in all these areas, and exercises this control by making education difficult or impossible for Palestinians in a variety of ways: blockading, besieging and bombing schools and universities; suspending delivery of books and educational supplies; restricting or barring the movement of students, teachers and researchers to their institutions of learning, as well as to travel abroad for educational purposes. Because of these actions, Israel has deprived hundreds of thousands of Palestinians of their right to education.

We are also deeply concerned that Arab-American (and especially Palestinian-American) and Muslim-American UC students who might want to participate in a UC EAP in Israel would encounter disabling forms of discrimination and a generally hostile anti-Arab and anti-Muslim environment in Israel. This concern is supported by the US government, as reflected in the State Department website warning that “American citizens whom Israeli authorities suspect of being of Arab or Muslim origin are likely to face additional, often time-consuming, and probing questioning by immigration and border authorities, or may even be denied entry into Israel. If they are determined by Israeli authorities to have a claim to residency status in the West Bank or Gaza, or to have a claim to a Palestinian identification number, such American citizens may be required by the Government of Israel to use a Palestinian Authority travel document to transit Israel to enter the West Bank or Gaza. Such a determination could be made for American citizens if they or their immediate family members or grandparents were born in the West Bank or Gaza, currently reside there, or have lived there for any appreciable amount of time.”

If such a determination were made in the case of Palestinian-American UC students, they would be subject to the travel restrictions that Israel imposes on Palestinians from the occupied territories; at a minimum, they would be subject to harassment and humiliation at Israeli army checkpoints and would, in all likelihood, be denied entry to Jerusalem which is off limits to Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza.

The designated site of UC’s EAP, Hebrew University (HU), has a longstanding and documented record of discriminating against Palestinian students, even those who are citizens of Israel. Palestinian students have been barred from using athletic facilities, for example, and the university has on at least one occasion removed Palestinian students from campus housing to make room for Jewish American students, partly in order to prevent the mixture of Jews and Arabs. This record, coupled with the US government’s warning, presents a constitutive likelihood that restarting EAP in Israel will involve discrimination against some UC students, potentially in contravention of UC regulations and California law. This places the onus on the University either not to pursue such a program or to put in place from the outset guarantees that such discrimination would not occur.

We request that you release existing documentation of EAP’s review of Israel and HU. If such documentation is not available, given the high probability of discrimination, we request a formal re-review of the HU proposal by the University Committee on International Education, a process that would include experts on HU’s record on discrimination. Following such a review, we request that a report be made public with information about (1) the formal criteria UC EAP has created to determine whether HU meets UC and US criteria for nondiscrimination under the various statutes that govern public higher education; (2) formal measures that UC EAP will take to guarantee non-discrimination at the new center; and (3) the formal procedures for redressing and possibly closing EAP in Israel if the program is restarted but fails to meet non-discrimination criteria.

The University’s failure to address all of the concerns raised in this letter, we think, would constitute an unacceptable disregard for liability risk and abrogation of its commitment to provide a non-discriminatory educational environment for all of its students.


Edward A. Alpers, UCLA
Nazar AlSayyad, UCB
Anjali Arondekar, UCSC
Paola Bacchetta, UCB
Etienne Balibar, UCI
Ali Behdad, UCLA
George Bisharat, UC Hastings School of Law
Jody Blanco, UCSD
Daniel Boyarin, UCB
Karl Britto, UCSC
Karen Brodkin, UCLA
Wendy Brown, UCB
Carole Browner, UCLA
Edmund Burke III, UCSC
Judith Butler, UCB
Magda Campo, UCSB
Richard Candidas, UCB
Michael Cassidy, UCB
Ignacio Chapela, UCB
Piya Chatterjee, UCR
Joshua Clover, UCD
Michael Cooperson, UCLA
Lara Deeb, UCI
Elizabeth DeLoughrey, UCLA
Gina Dent, UCSC
Gregory Dobbins, UCD
Beshara Doumani, UCB
Lan Duong, UCR
Omnia el Shakry, UCD
Fatima El-Tayeb, UCSD
Julia Elyachar, UCI
Samera Esmeir, UCB
Yen Le Espiritu, UCSD
Richard Falk, UCSB
Margaret W. Ferguson, UCD
Aisha Finch, UCLA
Claudio Fogu, UCSB
John Foran, UCSB
Carla Freccero, UCSC
Takashi Fujitani, UCSD
Nancy Gallagher, UCSB
Rosemary George, UCSD
Jess Ghannam, UCSF
Evelyn Glenn, UCB
David Theo Goldberg, UCI
Bluma Goldstein, UCB
Bishnupriya Ghosh , UCSB
Avery Gordon, UCSB
Emily Gottreich, UCB
Inderpal Grewal, UCI
Ramon Grosfoguel, UCB
Nandini Gunewardena, UCLA
Elizabeth M. Guthrie, UCI
Christian Haesemeyer, UCLA
Lisa Hajjar, UCSB
Gerry Hale, UCLA
Sondra Hale, UCLA
Jonathan Hall, UCI
Gillian Hart, UCB
Charles Henry, UCB
Charles Hirschkind, UCB
Gil Hochberg, UCLA
Jerome Hoffman, UCLA
Grace Hong, UCLA
Donna Jones, UCB
Suad Joseph, UCD
Caren Kaplan, UCD
Marie Kennedy, UCLA
Elaine Kim, UCB
Katherine King, UCLA
Jake Kosek, UCB
Mariam B. Lam, UCR
Jin-Kyung Lee, UCSD
Leon Letwin, UCLA
Mark LeVine, UCI
Esther Lezra, UCSB
Margaret Loose, UCSD
Lisa Lowe, UCSD
Paul Lubeck, UCSC
Samer Madanat, UCB
Saba Mahmood, UCB
Sunaina Maira, UCD
Saree Makdisi, UCLA
Nelson Maldonado-Torres, UCB
Waldo Martin, UCB
Bill Maurer, UCI
Toby Miller, UCR
Minoo Moallem, UCB
Kathleen Moore, UCSB
Michael Morony, UCLA
Ramona Naddaf, UCB
Mary King Norseng, UCLA
Alice O’Connor, UCSB
Michael Omi, UCB
Mary Lovelace O’Neal, UCB
Stefania Pandolfo, UCB
Constance Penley, UCSB
Gabriel Piterberg, UCLA
Ismail Poonawala, UCLA
Michael Provence, UCSD
Leigh Raiford, UCB
Kaushik Sunder Rajan, UCI
Richard Randolph, UCSC
Raka Ray, UCB
Lisa Rofel, UCSC
Frank Ross, UCSD
Ananya Roy, UCB
Parama Roy, UCD
Rosaura Sanchez, UCSD
Alex Saragosa, UCB
Bhasker Sarkar, UCSB

Sue Schweik, UCB
Kathryn Shevelow, UCSD
Sonia Shiri, UCB
David Simpson, UCD
Susan Slyomovics, UCLA
Eric Smoodin, UCD
Ula Taylor, UCB
Charis Thompson, UCB
Barrie Thorne, UCB
Anne Wagner, UCB
Richard Walker, UCB
L. Ling-chi Wang, UCB
Evan Watkins, UCD
Michael Watts, UCB
Devra Weber, UCR
Hayden White, UCSC
Leon Wofsy, UCB
Victor Wolfenstein, UCLA
Salim Yaqub, UCSB
Lisa Yoneyama, UCSD

Contact Information: Prof. Sondra Hale sonhale[at] and Prof. Kathleen Moore kmoore[at]