Pitzer College is a small private liberal arts college in Southern California. One of the Claremont consortium of academic institutions, the school promotes itself as celebrating “cultural diversity and intercultural understanding.” But in recent years this intercultural understanding has become remarkably intolerant of Jews and their homeland of Israel. Last spring the Pitzer College Council attempted to impose the Hamas-funded and anti-Semitic BDS movement on the College by voting to suspend the study abroad program at the University of Haifa in Israel. When the College’s president vetoed the discriminatory measure, he was rewarded with calls for his censure and claims that he was “weaponizing institutionalized Islamophobia.” The Pitzer Student Senate also promoted the BDS movement by passing a budgetary amendment prohibiting the use of Student Activities Funds to pay for goods or services from companies or organizations associated with Israel.
The Pitzer chapter of the Hamas-linked organization Students for Justice in Palestine is highly active, holding frequent events during which speakers spread Jew hatred by demonizing and delegitimizing Israel and promoting the genocidal BDS movement. The chapter has also targeted Jewish students with illegal “mock eviction” flyers on their dorm room doors. Jewish students on campus report receiving “threatening and bigoted messages” and a mezuzah, a Jewish prayer box, was stolen from a student’s door.
Instances of Jew Hatred:
In March 2019, Pitzer SJP erected an “apartheid wall” on campus which demonized and delegitimized Israel and spread false Hamas propaganda about the Jewish state. The wall was part of SJP’s “Palestine Freedom Week,” the college’s version of “Israel Apartheid Week” which is an international hate movement to promote Jew hatred and pro-terrorist propaganda. Advertisements for the week claimed that students would “learn more about Zionist violence.” The Facebook event page promoting the wall stated that “Each panel of the mock apartheid wall contains images, facts, and statistics about Israeli occupation and Zionist violence...”
In March 2019, the Pitzer College Council, a governing body consisting of students, faculty and staff, attempted to impose the Hamas-funded and anti-Semitic BDS movement on the College by voting to suspend the study abroad program at the University of Haifa in Israel. The measure passed by a vote of 67-28, with 8 abstentions. Pitzer College President Oliver then vetoed the measure and issued a statement explaining his belief that the College as an official entity should not take an official position on the highly controversial Israel/Palestine conflict.
University of Haifa President Ron Robin issued a statement asserting that “The Pitzer boycott is particularly misguided given the fact that at University of Haifa, 35 percent of our students are Arabs, and that our Israeli and Arab students work together harmoniously on extracurricular activities and community service. This is diversity, coexistence, and tolerance at its finest.”
Robin added “Further, such boycotts meet the U.S. State Department’s definition of anti-Semitism by ‘applying double standards by requiring of [Israel] a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.’ Sadly, the Pitzer College Council today gave its seal of approval to contemporary anti-Semitism.”
President Oliver’s decision not to suspend the study abroad program greatly angered many student groups on campus, resulting in further actions and anti-Semitic reactions. The Pitzer College Student Senate passed a resolution to censure President Oliver and demand that he reverse his decision. Claremont College SJP released a statement further demonizing and delegitimizing Israel and promoting the Hamas-funded and genocidal BDS movement against Israel. The statement claimed that President Oliver “affirmed his support not only for the University’s study abroad program with Pitzer College, but also for Israel’s deeply racist and violent policies towards the Palestinian people” and added “Oliver is callously weaponizing institutionalized Islamophobia that is embedded in the domestic and foreign policy of the United States, and manipulating its language and purpose for the intent of his pro-Israel agenda…The overwhelming vote in favor of suspending the study abroad program indicates that Oliver and his Zionist ideologies stands in the minority within the Pitzer community, and he is able to wield his disproportionate amount of power in order to impose them.” Claremont SJP also started a petition that garnered over 1200 signatures calling on President Oliver to rescind his veto.
Three Claremont Jewish organizations also released a statement sharing their concern about “threatening and bigoted messages that members of our community, on both sides of the debate, have received.” The organizations noted that “a Jewish student leader who has been a prominent opponent of the Haifa motion was targeted by menacing emails and had their name placed on a hate site.” The statement however went on to echo Hamas talking points by claiming that “There is no question that Palestinians live under occupation and are subject to discrimination.”
On March 3, 2019, Pitzer College SJP put out a press release objecting to a college-sponsored talk by Dr. Einat Wilf on “Zionism in the 21st Century.” The press release claimed that Dr. Wilf should not be allowed to speak because she “has constantly undermined, mocked, and disputed the existence of the right of return, has called it ‘Arab propaganda’, and has even written a book called ‘The War of Return.’ Wilf has called for the shutdown of the UNRWA because she believes that Palestinians who are living in the West Bank and Gaza cannot be considered ‘refugees.’” SJP’s press release also promoted the anti-Semitic trope that the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) “spends millions of dollars each year to buy U.S. political power and support for continued Israeli aggression, militarism, violence, and surveillance against the Palestinian people.”
In April 2018, the Pitzer Working Group on Israel Palestine received funding from the Office of the President to assist in holding an event titled “Perspectives on Colleges and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.” Speakers at the event made statements delegitimizing Israel, with one calling the Jewish state “a textbook example of apartheid,” and another claiming that “Israel is currently solidifying its hold on the apartheid regime that exists over the Palestinians… I think the situation is much worse in Palestine [than] in South Africa… in contrast [to South Africa] Israel actually wants to rid itself of the Palestinian burden.” Speakers at the event also promoted the Hamas-funded BDS movement against Israel and the so-called “right of return” for Palestinians which would destroy Israel’s status as a Jewish state.
In March 2018, a mezuzah (Jewish prayer box) was stolen from a student’s dorm.
In April 2017, the Pitzer College Student Senate passed a budgetary amendment prohibiting the use of Student Activities Funds to pay for goods or services from companies or organizations associated with Israel. The amendment was a measure of support for the genocidal and Hamas-funded BDS movement against Israel. No advance warning was given about the vote which occurred on Easter Sunday which was also the sixth day of Passover, resulting in many student senators being absent from the meeting.
Also in April 2017, Pitzer SJP erected a mock “apartheid wall” promoting the Hamas-funded BDS movement on campus. When a pro-Israel student responded by flying an Israeli flag from the roof of a campus building, SJP released a statement demonizing and delegitimizing Israel and echoing the false Hamas propaganda claims that Israel promotes aggression against the Palestinians. “This flag shows the ideological underpinnings of Zionism, a settler-colonial project to lay claim to Palestinian indigenous land without acknowledging the human rights abuses, the violence, the massacres, the apartheid, and the walls that are necessary to sustain this project...We hope that throughout the rest of IAW this year you attend our events, listen to our message, and think critically about this 20 foot flag that was hung in an attempt to cover up the horrors of Zionist violence,” claimed the statement.
In March 2016, Jewish students at Pitzer College reported being targeted with mock eviction flyers in violation of university regulations. The students felt that flyers were posted on their dormitory doors specifically because they were Jewish.