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More Academic Mobbery at AUC

Every few months or so, I’ve been reporting about another incident at the American University in Cairo (AUC) concerning calls for boycotting Israeli academics and universities. Until now, this has been a mostly student-led campaign, with students threatening to hold strikes and sit-ins in response to rumors that Israeli professors would be attending conferences on campus. On November 1st, a group of students made national news after storming a faculty senate meeting at which the issue was being discussed, forcing its adjournment. Meanwhile, the administration has issued a series of gutless statements, refusing to tackle the bigotry inherent in the students’ actions head-on, while claiming that “security concerns” have prevented it from bringing Israeli scholars to campus.

Well, it’s no longer just the students engaging in this shameful charade of intolerance. Last week, the AUC faculty senate passed a resolution discouraging the “normalization” of relations with Israeli institutions of higher education. Although the resolution stops short of banning individual Israeli academics outright–senate chairman Fred Perry acknowledged that banning individuals would be “against human rights law”–it virtually ensures that the severe vitriol fling at Israel by Egypt’s finest institution of higher learning will go unchallenged for many years to come.

But beyond providing yet another expression of AUC’s inhospitality towards Israelis, the circumstances surrounding the faculty’s resolution reveal a disturbing trend: the involvement of American students in fanning the flames of anti-Israel hostilities while studying abroad. Kate Dannies, a student involved in AUC’s pro-Palestinian al-Quds Club is a case in point. Ms. Dannies, who was among thirty al-Quds Club members to attend the faculty’s final vote, called the anti-normalization decision a “feel-good resolution,” dismissing objections from certain sectors of the student body that such a resolution might jeopardize American funding. “If we lose funding from American institutions, maybe we can gain it from Arab ones,” she said.

I, for one, interested in putting Ms. Dannies’ ideology-over-funding priorities to the test. Back in 2004, Ms. Dannies won a $1,000 scholarship from the United States Institute of Peace for a national peace essay contest. Having risen to the forefront of a campaign to undermine Egyptian-Israeli peace by protesting Egyptian-Israeli people-to-people exchanges, it seems only fair that the USIP demand that its congressionally funded scholarship be returned.


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