U.S. Jewish Group Accused of McCarthyism After Publishing List of Pro-boycott Professors

AMCHA advises Jewish students to check names 'before registering,' accuses academics of breaking law; religious Jewish prof asks to be included.

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A protester holds a sign that reads 'Boycott Israel' during a protest in Berlin against the Israel-Gaza war, August 1, 2014.
A protester holds a sign that reads 'Boycott Israel' during a protest in Berlin against the Israel-Gaza war, August 1, 2014.Credit: Reuters

An American Jewish campus group has published a list of 218 Middle Eastern studies professors calling for the boycott of Israel, and suggests that students check the list "before registering" for classes to avoid "subjecting themselves to anti-Israel bias, or possibly even antisemitic rhetoric."

In response, Corey Robin, a political science professor (and a religious Jew), on Monday accused the group, AMCHA Initiative, of "McCarthyism," and asked that it add his name to the list.

AMCHA Initiative – Protecting Jewish Students announced on its website that it "posted a list of 218 professors identifying themselves as Middle East scholars, who recently called for the academic boycott of Israel in a petition signed. Students who wish to become better educated on the Middle East without subjecting themselves to anti-Israel bias, or possibly even antisemitic rhetoric, may want to check which faculty members from their university are signatories before registering."

The website went on to accuse these professors of breaking U.S. law: "It’s bad enough that these professors have revealed themselves to be wildly biased against one, and only one, Middle Eastern country. Even more troubling, however, is the fact that many of these patently biased boycotters of Israel are affiliated with government-designated, taxpayer-funded National Resource Centers (NRC) on their campuses. Clearly NRC-affiliated faculty who have publicly vilified Israel and committed themselves to refusing ‘to collaborate on projects and events involving Israeli institutions’ have violated both the letter and spirit of the federal law which funds their teaching and research."

The website then lists the professors and their universities.

On his personal blog, Robin, who teaches at Brooklyn College and CUNY Graduate Center, wrote to AMCHA officials Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, a lecturer at the University of California at Santa Barbara, and Leila Beckwith, professor emeritus at UCLA:

"I noticed this morning that you listed on the AMCHA website 218 professors who are a threat to Jewish students (“Thank you for your actions to protect Jewish students”). As a practicing Jew, I think your list is abhorrent. As a citizen, I think it’s pure McCarthyism. As an act of solidarity with the professors who have been unfairly maligned by you and your list, I’d like you to add my name to it. Below please find my identification. Corey Robin."

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