The Jury Talks Back

4/17/2019

Judea Pearl Renounces NYU Alumnus Award After Anti-Israel Group Is Honored

Filed under: Uncategorized — Dana @ 4:36 pm

[guest post by Dana]

New York University’s Students for Justice in Palestine organization will be honored with the President’s Service Award tonight in New York. The group posted the announcement on their Facebook page last week:

We are thrilled to announce that we have been selected to receive a presidential service award at NYU. Despite the pushback we have received from our institution, we agree that we have made ‘significant contributions to the university community in the areas of learning, leadership, and quality of student life.’ Anyway, New York University, divest from Israeli apartheid. Xoxo.”

Vigorously opposing the the selection of SJP for the award is Judea Pearl, noted alumnus and father of slain Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl:

Turing Award winner Judea Pearl has renounced his status as a distinguished alumnus of New York University, following the school’s decision to award its Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) chapter — which orchestrated an ongoing boycott of Zionist student clubs — for “extraordinary and positive impact on the University community.”

Pearl, who graduated with a doctoral degree from NYU’s Tandon School of Engineering in 1965, was granted a Distinguished Alumnus Award by the Polytechnic Alumni Association during a campus lecture in 2013 and is currently a chancellor’s professor of computer science at the University of California, Los Angeles. He also leads a foundation named after his late son, journalist Daniel Pearl, who was killed by Islamic terrorists in 2002 while on assignment in Pakistan.

Pearl explained why he is protesting the selection of SJP:

“In the past five years, SJP has resorted to intimidation tactics that have made me, my colleagues and my students unwelcome and unsafe on our own campus,” Pearl wrote in a letter to NYU President Andrew Hamilton. “The decision to confer an award on SJP, renders other NYU awards empty of content, and suspect of reckless selection process.”

Pearl attempted to discuss his concerns with university officials, but given the condescending response, it’s clear his complaints fell on deaf ears:

Pearl stated that his efforts to engage with university officials over these concerns “have been met with platitudes about ‘free speech’ despite the fact that the US State Department now includes, in its definition of discrimination, intimidation based on race, religion and ethnicity.”

“Mr. President, I have been in academia for close to 50 years, and I know the difference between free speech and campus norms,” he continued. “Entrusted with the mandate of maintaining a climate of learning and mutual respect, your office should distance itself from the SJP selection and explain to the campus why such distancing is necessary. In the absence of a corrective action by your office the academic standing of this university is begging for other voices to call out the Orwellian character of (SJP’s) award.”

Pearl tweeted:

How can you tell when your university administrators are embarrassed by their own words? When they start lecturing you on “free speech” — the ultimate blanket for inaction or lack of courage…

From university spokesman John Beckman:

The President’s Service Award is annually granted to more than 50 extra-curricular clubs and 100 individuals, which are selected by a group of student affairs staff members and a student representative.

“While many in our university community disagree with the SJP, we will continue to defend the rights of our students and others to express their opposing views,” the official asserted.

As a reminder, here is an example of how members of SJP made an “extraordinary and positive impact on the University community, including achievements within schools and departments, the University at large, local neighborhoods, and NYU’s presence in the world.”:

Upon learning that SJP would be honored with a Presidential Service Award, NYU student organization Realize Israel posted this statement on their Facebook page [in full]:

It has come to our attention that on April 4th, NYU Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) announced that they had been selected to receive the NYU President’s Service Award. We are outraged that the University would award an organization that has spent the last several years making Jewish and pro-Israel students feel unwelcome and unsafe on campus.

The NYU President’s Service Award is given to individual students or student organizations that have had “an extraordinary and positive impact on the University community” and that promotes “learning, leadership, and quality of student life at New York University.” SJP’s actions toward our community reflect none of these values.

Over the past year, SJP has led a boycott of Jewish and pro-Israel organizations by 50+ NYU “student groups.” Members of SJP defaced Israel’s flag and physically assaulted pro-Israel students for openly celebrating their identities, and members of SJP brought forward not one, but two one-sided and factually inaccurate anti-Israel resolutions to the Student Government Assembly through a non-transparent, unbalanced, and undemocratic process.

By presenting the NYU President’s Award to SJP, not only is our university condoning violence and discrimination against members of the NYU community, but it is declaring that this type of behavior represents the ethos of our university.

We are conducting an investigation to determine who selected SJP to receive this award and are committed to dialogue with those who made this decision so that they understand the severity of the situation and the repercussions of their actions on the NYU community.

We also believe it is high time that the administration put an end to this endless cycle of intimidation, and we plan to voice our concerns about the systemic anti-Semitism perpetuated by anti-Israel activism that is plaguing our campus.

Coincidentally, Students for Justice in Palestine and Jewish Voice for Peace activists were co-hosting an event at NYU featuringBDS Movement co-founder Omar Barghouti , but Barghouti found himself denied entry to the U.S. today. Contrary to protests that “this is only the latest in a series of attempts to suppress Palestinian voices,” the reason for not allowing Barghouti into the U.S. seems pretty darn reasonable:

In 2007, Barghouti founded, and runs to this day, a Ramallah-based umbrella group called the BDS National Committee that serves as the leading group organizing and promoting BDS outside the United States. The reason Barghouti was barred from entering the U.S. is not because he advocates BDS or Israel’s destruction. There is no speech issue here at all.

The reason he was barred is because the group Barghouti runs includes five U.S.-designated terrorist organizations in its membership: Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, the PFLP, and the Popular Front – General Command.

–Dana


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