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It’s Time For Us To Say 'Thank You'
Mon, 12/23/2013 - 19:00
Special To The Jewish Week

We are a community that seems to go from crisis to crisis, and a part of our communal psyche seems to almost relish it. Whether it’s the Pew Report, or our fears about Iran, or an anti-Semitic attack, it gets our Jewish juices flowing. Last week, it was the appalling news that the American Studies Association had voted to boycott Israeli universities. We screamed. We wrote impassioned op-ed pieces. Like leftover latkes, we sizzled in the oil of our collective disappointment at the brazen cooperation of a piece of America’s intellectual elite in the willful academic ghettoization of the Jewish state.

And we were right to have done so.

However, something was happening behind our backs – something by no means insidious, but, rather, redemptive.

The academic world did not stay silent. Quite the contrary. To date, 25 American universities have refused to join the ASA boycott. In many cases, they have also issued strongly worded protests against the Association’s actions.

Here are the names of the presidents or chancellors of each university, along with their contact information. Because it is not enough to scream gevalt when we have been wounded. We also have to call out “thank you” to those who are our friends, to those who stood up for truth, to those who have refused to have their educational institutions seduced by all too common siren song of anti-Israeli behavior. We need to thank those institutions, especially if we are alumni of them, and/or our children or grandchildren attend them. Because the best way to induce people to continue doing good is to thank them for what they have already done.

Take a look at the list. Yes -- some, even many, of those institutions of higher learning have significant Jewish populations. Some of the officials are Jewish. But that cannot begin to tell the whole story.

A larger story exists in the geographic diversity of the universities’ locations. Moreover, we don’t know how many Jewish students are enrolled at Willamette University in Salem, Oregon. Perhaps more than we think. But Willamette is not exactly located in one of the queen cities of the American diaspora.

And that is, precisely, the point. There’s an old Jewish joke. A pair of Jews is walking in a dangerous neighborhood late at night. Suddenly, they hear footsteps behind them. One says to the other: “We had better be careful. There are two of them, and we’re alone.”

As it turns out, we are not alone. Not even close.

This is the mitzvah of hakarat ha-tov – recognizing the good. Thank these university officials for their universities’ courage in standing up to the American Studies Association. Thank them for their commitment to truth and to intellectual honesty. Thank them for the generosity of spirit that they demonstrated towards the State of Israel. Get your children and grandchildren to write as well – especially if they are students at those universities.

Now that the winter solstice has passed, the days are getting longer again.

There is more light than we could have imagined.

Boston University. Dr. Robert A. Brown, President. John and Kathryn Silber Administrative Center, 1 Silber Way (8th Floor), Boston, MA. 02215.

Brandeis University. Fred Laurence, President. Office of the President, Irving Enclave 113, MS 100, 415 South Street, Waltham, MA 02453 Office of the President 

Brown University. Christina Paxson, President. Office of the President, Brown University, Box 1860, 1 Prospect Street, Providence, RI 02912

Cornell University. David J. Skorton, President. Office of the President, 300 Day Hall, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853.

Dickinson College. Nancy A. Roseman, President. Dickinson College, 
Post Office Box 1773, 
Carlisle, PA 17013.

Duke University. Richard A. Brodhead, President. Office of the President, Duke University, 207 Allen Building, Box 90001, Durham, NC 27708-0001.

George Washington University. Steven Knapp, President. Rice Hall, 2121 I Street, NW, Suite 801, Washington, DC 20052

Harvard University. Dr. Drew Faust, President. Office of the President, Harvard University, Massachusetts Hall, Cambridge, MA 02138

Indiana University. Michael A. McRobbie, President. Office of the President, Indiana University, Bryan Hall 200, 107 S. Indiana Ave., Bloomington, IN 47405

Kenyon College. Sean M. Decatur, President. Office of the President
Ransom Hall
Kenyon College
Gambier, Ohio 43022-962.

Michigan State University. Lou Anna K. Simon, President. Office of the President, Michigan State University, 426 Auditorium Road, Hannah Administration Building, Room 450, East Lansing, MI 48824-1046.

New York University. John Sexton, President. Office of the President, New York University, 70 Washington Square South, New York, NY 10012 

Northwestern University. Morton Shapiro, President. 2-130 Rebecca Crown Center, 633 Clark Street, Evanston, Illinois 60208.

Princeton University. Christopher L. Eisgruber, President. Office of the President, 1 Nassau Hall, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ 08544

Tufts University. Anthony P. Monaco, President. 
Office of the President
Tufts University
Ballou Hall, 2nd Floor, 
Medford, MA 02155.

Tulane University. Scott S. Cowen, President. Tulane University, 218 Gibson Hall, 6823 St. Charles Avenue, New Orleans, LA 70118-5684

University of California-Irvine. Michael V. Drake, MD, Chancellor. University of California, Irvine, Irvine, CA 92697

University of California-San Diego. Praddep K. Khosia, chancellor-elect. Office of the Chancellor, University of California, San Diego, 9500 Gilman Drive # 0005, La Jolla, California 92093-0005.

University of Kansas. Bernadette Gray-Little, Chancellor. Chancellor's Office, University of Kansas, 230 Strong Hall, Lawrence, KS 66045-7518.

University of Maryland. Wallace D. Loh, President. University of Maryland, 1101 Main Administration Building, College Park, MD  20742-6105

University of Pennsylvania. Amy Gutmann, President. Office of the President,

University of Pennsylvania, 
1 College Hall, Room 100
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6380.

University of Pittsburgh. Mark Nordenberg, Chancellor. University of Pittsburgh, 
107 Cathedral of Learning, 
Pittsburgh, PA 15260

University of Texas-Austin. William Powers, Jr., President. Office of the President, 110 Inner Campus Drive, Stop G3400, Austin, TX. 78712-3400

Washington University in St. Louis. Mark Stephen Wrighton, Chancellor. Campus Box 1192, One Brookings Drive, St. Louis, MO 63130

Wesleyan University. Michael S. Roth, President. 229 High Street, Middletown, CT. 06459.

Willamette University. Stephen E. Thorsett, President. 900 State Street, Salem, Oregon 97301

Yale University. Peter Salovey, President. President's Office, 
Yale University, 
PO Box 208229, 
New Haven, CT 06520-8229

Jeffrey K. Salkin is the rabbi of Temple Beth Am in Bayonne, NJ. He is the author of numerous books on religion and Jewish identity, including Righteous Gentiles In The Hebrew Bible: Models For Sacred Relationships (Jewish Lights). 

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I received a letter from Goucher College, my alma mater, in which the President, Sanford J. Ungar, and the Provost, Marc Roy, also strongly condemned the ASA resolution.

I don’t think this is necessarily an issue of being pro-Israel. It’s about academic integrity. Academic organizations and institutions should be communicating with one another because that’s what enhancing research and knowledge requires. An academic organization that boycotts institutions based on political rhetoric while disregarding facts loses its standing as an academic organization. No matter what one’s opinion is of Israel’s handling of political issues (and it is not necessary to agree with everything the Israeli government does to be pro- Israel) Israeli universities allow for public discourse of diverse opinions and have students and faculty from diverse ethnic groups. (In fact, Omar Barghouti, a founder of the BDS movement is, himself, a student at Tel Aviv University). Israeli universities are also actively involved in projects with Palestinians in order to help enable a secure peace. There is no rationale behind the boycott other than political grandstanding. That kind of irrational behavior should be rejected by serious academics.

This list is terribly outdated. Numerous presidents have also spoken out including Lee Bollinger from Columbia.

The president of the University of Southern California issued a statement early last week strongly supporting Israel. USC does not support the boycott nor does it belong to the ASA as erroneously listed. USC should have been included in the list of universities you printed.

Silence from Columbia University is deafening! Email Lee Bollinger at

Could not locate the email addresses of the Pres. of George Washington University or the Chancellor of the University of Pittsburgh - but here are the other missing email addresses. , , , eisgruber@Princeton.EDU , ,

This needs to be clarified. The majority of these schools were found on the AMCHA Initiative's list of schools where "one or more faculty members at that institution have endorsed at least one call for the academic boycott of Israel". So much confusion in the way these lists are being presented. Can you give us a list of universities that made specific statements against the calls for boycotts?

President Fred Lawrence (note correct spelling) also deserves praise via email - especially since Brandeis University was the first university to reject the ASA resolution. His email address is