Letter to the Editor: NYU remains committed to NYU Tel Aviv

NYU spokesperson John Beckman responds to a recent op-ed calling for NYU to close its Tel Aviv study abroad site.

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Echo Chen

(Illustration by Echo Chen)

John Beckman, NYU spokesperson

To the editor:

In response to the recent opinion piece in WSN, NYU wants to reaffirm its unwavering commitment to the continued presence and operation of its study abroad site in Israel, NYU Tel Aviv.

[Read more: Opinion: NYU, shut down the Tel Aviv study abroad site]

NYU believes that academic boycotts — and let’s not quibble: the closing of our Tel Aviv program would amount to nothing less — violate the principles of academic freedom and the free exchange of ideas to which NYU is committed. Opposition to academic boycotts is hardly NYU’s view alone, it is widely shared among US institutions of higher learning, and it is shared not only by the American Association of University Professors, but by the United Auto Workers — Graduate Student Organizing Council’s parent union — as well.

Beyond that, there are other points that are important to make.

First, whatever opinion one may have of Israeli policy, holding NYU Tel Aviv responsible for it in any way does not bear up under scrutiny. Nor is NYU Tel Aviv’s presence an endorsement of a particular policy. Many sectors of society speak with one voice — universities are not among them. Universities are home to many voices, and just as the presence of a speaker on a campus cannot be construed as a university’s endorsement of that speaker’s view, neither is it proper nor persuasive to hold NYU Tel Aviv — or any other of our global sites — accountable for the national policies of the country in which it is located. 

Second, NYU has made an affirmative decision to embrace global engagement. Closing NYU Tel Aviv would run counter to that intrinsic aspect of the University’s character. 

And third, the University’s policies specifically prohibit discrimination based on nationality or country of origin. The singling out of Israel as a location from which NYU should decamp — and the proposition that Israeli universities should be boycotted — not only reduces the region’s extraordinarily complex history and politics to a simplistic rendering, it is at odds with at least the spirit of that policy. 

We fully uphold the right of the WSN and its opinion writers to offer their views on the continued operation of NYU Tel Aviv. That said, NYU disagrees with their outlook and conclusion, and, as I noted at the outset, remains fully committed to NYU Tel Aviv.

Sincerely,

John Beckman

Senior Vice President and NYU spokesperson

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