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BDS On Campus

Rarely do three seemingly innocuous letters elicit such a visceral response. Shorthand for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement, BDS lobbies the business world, religious groups, academia, performers and private citizens to, in the founders’ words, “impose broad boycotts and implement divestment initiatives against Israel.”

While arguments against the movement abound—not least, that it is age-old anti-Semitism in disguise—academic opposition will be the focus of this discussion. As one of our panelists, the esteemed cultural anthropologist Richard Shweder, has noted, anti-BDS academics believe “a professional scholarly association does not need a foreign policy for the Holy Land or anywhere else and should be committed to free thought and disciplined inquiry, not collective political action.”

A hot-button issue at schools worldwide, BDS on Campus is sure to make for a thought-provoking evening with:

Richard A. Shweder is the Harold H. Swift Distinguished Service Professor of Human Development at the University of Chicago. Over his 45 years in academia, he has also been a visiting scholar at other acclaimed institutions, a prolific author and editor, and the recipient of several awards and honors, not least, the John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship.

David Makovsky is the Ziegler Distinguished Fellow at The Washington Institute, from which he took a leave during 2013-14 to serve as senior advisor to the US State Department’s Special Envoy for Israeli-Palestinian Negotiations. He is now director of the Institute’s Project on the Middle East Peace Process, and an adjunct professor in Middle East studies at Johns Hopkins University’s Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies.

Milan Chatterjee is one of two recipients of the American Jewish Committee’s inaugural Campus Courage Awards, acknowledgments of “what it means to speak out in campus environments that . . . are increasingly hostile to Jewish students and anyone who challenges the BDS movement.” As a UCLA law student and Graduate Students Association president, he found himself embroiled in a BDS controversy so ugly, he decided to finish his degree at NYU.

Mark Yudof is Board Chair of the Academic Engagement Network, which aims to facilitate “intelligent, constructive and civilized discourse about Israel on campuses, while protecting and nurturing the exercise of academic freedom and freedom of expression.” Having served as University of Texas Chancellor and former University of California President, among other leadership roles, Yudof has been steeped in campus life since he joined the faculty of the University of Texas Law school in 1971.



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