Sonoma State, First US University to Agree With Students on Complete Academic Boycott of Israel

United States North America Higher Education News by Erudera News May 16, 2024

Sonoma State University

Sonoma State University, a public liberal arts college in California, has become the first university in the United States to accept the demands of students protesting against Israel’s war on Gaza to fully boycott Israeli universities.

The decision of the university, part of the California State University system, was announced on Tuesday, May 14, and comes amid a wave of campus protests across the United States, reports.

Student demands included cutting ties with Israeli academic institutions deemed complicit in the Gaza war and seeking other ethical options. Additionally, students have asked the university to establish an Advisory Council of Students for Justice in Palestine, among other demands.

In an email to students, University’s President Mike Lee said the university has agreed with student demonstrators who have been setting up camps on campus nearly three weeks ago in solidarity with people in Palestine.

“None of us should be on the sidelines when human beings are subject to mass killing and destruction. I have said this before and it merits repeating: There is no political, religious, or cultural principle that merits the murder of the innocent, and the one battle we should all be engaged in is the fight for inclusion, respect, and freedom for all people, regardless of their background or identity,” Lee wrote.

He said the university will review all of its vendor contracts, which will be disclosed during a meeting between the Advisory Council of SJP and the Vice President of Administration and Finance. In his email, Lee also mentioned that the school will consider divestment strategies and seek ethical options.

The university also promised not to engage in any study abroad programs or other partnerships sponsored by Israel.

“Currently, the CSU International Programs are not engaging in exchange with Israeli universities, and Sonoma State has no other faculty or student exchange agreements in Israel,” the email added.

Other key points of the agreement include:

  • Establishment of the Advisory Council of Students for Justice in Palestine
  • Recognition of Palestinian Identity and Introduce Historic Curriculum
  • Statement for Permanent Cease-fire in Gaza

The decision triggered a backlash from the Jewish community and politicians opposing the agreement, describing it as an attack on Israel and the Jewish people.

The Jewish Community Relations Council Bay Area said the Sonoma State decision had violated the Combating Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Act.

Image source: Twitter account of Sonoma State University

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