The Board of Directors, along with SPME chapter leaders from the Delaware Valley and Pittburgh Chapters have issued the following commendation for State Senator Anthony Hardy Williams’ introduction of SR-15, requesting that colleges and universities in the state act to prevent anti-Semitism on campus.
The Board is urging Pennsylvania SPME Faculty Network Participant to contact their State Senators to co-sponsor this important resolution http://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/legis/home/find.cfm and is asking SPME Faculty Network Participants in other states and countries to find sponsors for similar legislation.
SPME Commendation For PA Senate Resolution 15
Scholars for Peace in the Middle East (SPME) www.spme.net , an academic organization of nearly 55,000 faculty network participants from around the world commends Pennsylvania State Senator Anthony Hardy Williams for taking proactive action against spreading anti-Semitism and suppression of freedom of expression on the nation’s college and university campuses. It urges the Pennsylvania State Senate to act promptly on SR-315.
As SR-315 states, “Instances of anti-Semitic conduct, speech and intimidation on college and university campuses have increased during the past several years, giving rise to the perception that such conduct and hate-based speech will be tolerated under the guise of First Amendment academic freedom.” It goes on to note that the United States Commission on Civil rights has acknowledged the resurgence of anti-Semitism on campus, identifying it as a “serious problem,” and goes on to note that “hostile environments have been created by college and university instructors, students and campus visitors”.
The resolution condemns “in the strongest possible terms any anti-Semitic conduct as an intolerable, base form of bigotry and hatred and recognize(s) that such conduct, particularly within centers of academic study, is unacceptable and cannot be tolerated.”
It calls for the Pennsylvania Department of Education’s State System of Higher Education and each college and university in Pennsylvania to “acknowledge the serious problem of anti-Semitic conduct and the creation of a hostile learning environment such conduct fosters and take necessary steps to prevent such instances from occurring on Pennsylvania college and university campuses”.
Williams was moved to act after viewing video of Israeli ambassador, author and distinguished academician Michael Oren being prevented from speaking on a college campus in California. As Williams observed, “Freedom of expression does not mean acts of intimidation, as was clearly displayed. We certainly don’t want to see this behavior take root here in Pennsylvania.”
Williams is a distinguished legislator who comes from a family with strong leadership ties to the American civil rights movement. Williams’ district is representative of the diverse population that lives in Southeastern Pennsylvania. SPME applauds his recognition of the need for civility and mutual respect across ethnic, racial, religious and political boundaries, particularly in the state’s higher educational institutions. Sen. Williams is the prime sponsor of PA SR- 315, along with bipartisan support from cosponsors Senators Andrew Dinniman, Michael J. Stack and Joseph B. Scarnati.
We urge the Pennsylvania State Senate to act promptly on this resolution and to act, in coordination with the Pennsylvania State House of Representatives and the governor to ensure that adequate legal remedies exist to guarantee genuine freedom of expression in institutions of higher learning throughout the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
SR-315 should also be examined for adoption with appropriate legislation by the Congress of the United States and the legislatures of the other 49 states, as well as democracies around the world, in order to ensure that responsible academic leaders of colleges and universities maintain environments where freedom of expression is protected to the fullest extent, for all persons, not just those who choose to hide behind such protections as a means of preventing others from speaking out.
SPME Executive Board
Peter Haas, Ph.D.(Case Western Reserve University, USA) President
Edward S. Beck, Ed.D. CCMHC, NCC, LPC (Walden University) Immediate Past President
Judith S. Jacobson, D.PH, (Columbia University) Vice-President for Internal Relations
Ruth Lichtenberg-Contreras, Ph.D. (Vienna, Austria) Secretary
Leila Beckwith, Ph.D. (University of California-Los Angeles) Treasurer
Samuel M. Edelman, Ph.D. (California State University-Chico) Executive Director
SPME Board of Directors
Jonathan Adelman, Ph.D.(University of Denver, USA)
Steven Albert, Ph.D., MSPH (University of Pittsburgh, USA)
John R. Cohn, MD (Thomas Jefferson University, USA)
Stanley Dubinsky Ph.D. (University of South Carolina, USA)
Awi Federgruen, DSc (Columbia University)
Rev. India E. Garnett, M.Div (United Church of Christ, PA)
Efraim Karsh, Ph.D. (Kings College, University of London, UK)
Matthias Kuentzel, Ph.D. (Political Scientist and Author, Hamburg, Germany)
Richard Landes Ph.D. (Boston University, USA)
Kenneth L. Marcus, J.D. (Baruch College of the City University of New York)
David Menashri, Ph.D. (Tel Aviv University, Israel)
G.S. Don Morris Ph.D.(Wingate Institute – IL, California Polytechnic Institute-Pomona, USA)
Donna Robinson Divine, Ph.D.(Smith College, USA)
Tammi Rossman-Benjamin (University of California at Santa Cruz)
Barry Rubin, Ph.D. (Interdisciplinary Center and GLORIA Center)
Philip Carl Salzman, Ph.D. (McGill University, Canada)
Ernest Sternberg, Ph.D. (University at Buffalo, State University of New York, USA)
SPME- Delaware Valley (Philadelphia) Chapter Coordinators)
John Cohn, MD Thomas Jefferson University
Edward Newman, Ph.D. Temple University
SPME- University of Pittsburgh/Carnegie Mellon Chapter Coordinator
Steven Albert, Ph.D., MSPH University of Pittsburgh
Senate Resolution 15
Condemning the resurgence of anti-Semitism on college and university campuses and calling upon the Department of Education, the State System of Higher Education, each of the State-related universities and of Pennsylvania’s independent colleges and university to remain and guarded against acts of anti-Semitism against college and university students.
Whereas, Anti-Semitism is an intolerable and ugly form of bigotry, prejudice and hostility directed toward persons of the Jewish faith, often based on the individual’s ethnic, cultural or religious identity; and
Whereas, Instances of anti-Semitic conduct, speech and intimidation on college and university campuses have increased during the past several years, giving rise to the perception that such conduct and hate-based speech will be tolerated under the guise of the First Amendment academic freedom; and
Whereas The United States Commission on Civil Rights has acknowledged the resurgence of anti-Semitic conduct on college and university campuses as a serious problem and has recommended that the United States Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights protect against anti-Semitic conduct through enforcement of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964; and
Whereas, Anti-Semitic conduct on college and university campuses has manifested itself in various forms, such as patters of threatening or intimidating behavior, derogatory remarks, vandalism, use of symbols of hatred and bigotry and, in rare cases, physical altercations; and
Whereas, Hostile environments have been created by college and university instructors, students and campus visitors; and
Whereas, Evidence suggests that some university or college departments of Middle East studies provide highly inflammatory and polarizing academic presentations that may exclude Jewish student participation, academically discriminate or repress legitimate dissent; and
Whereas, Instances of anti-Semitic conduct have involved attempts to compare the nation of Israel to Nazi Germany in the 1930s and 1940s and to demonize the Israeli Government and its supporters; and
Whereas, Such anti-Semitic instances have occurred throughout the nation’s centers of academic study, including the University of California, Columbia University, Saint Cloud State University in Minnesota, Brown University, George Washington University and the University of North Dakota; therefore be it
Resolved, That the Senate condemn in the strongest possible terms any anti-Semitic conduct as intolerable, base form of bigotry and hatred and recognize that such conduct, particularly within centers of academic study, is unacceptable and cannot be tolerated; and be it further
Resolved, That the Senate request that the Department of Education and the State System of Higher Education, in cooperation with each of the State-related universities and this Commonwealth’s independent colleges and universities, acknowledge the serious problem of anti-Semitic conduct and the creation of a hostile learning environment such conduct fosters and take the necessary steps to prevent such instances from occurring on Pennsylvania’s colleges and university campuses.
Introduced: Senator Williams- Co-Sponsored: Senators Dinniman, Stack, Scarnati
For Further Information Contact:
Peter Haas, SPME President, [email protected]
Edward S. Beck, SPME Past President, Harrisburg PA [email protected]
John Cohn, MD SPME Board of Directors and Delaware Valley Chapter [email protected]
Edward Newman, SPME Delaware Valley Chapter [email protected]
Steven Albert, SPME Board of Directors and Pittsburgh Chapter [email protected]
Sam Edelman, SPME Executive Director, [email protected]