California State University Northridge fails to remove Professor Klein’s webpage, posted on the university server, that promotes the boycott of Israel.
California State University Northridge (CSUN) Professor David Klein has found a convenient outlet for expressing his sentiments with regard to Israel: the University’s web server. Professor of Mathematics, Klein has created a page entitled “Boycott Israel Resource Page” using the CSUN web server, and has also used his university email address to solicit support for politicians who support the boycott of Israel.
It’s one thing to advocate for a boycott on a personal website, and quite another to do so on a website with the university’s name on it. Note the URL of Klein’s site: http://www.csun.edu/~vcmth00m/boycott.html.
And yet, CSUN has failed to remove Klein’s anti-Semitic page from its website. One viewing Klein’s webpage, which is a subpage of the CSUN domain, may easily be lead to believe that CSUN endorses the Israel boycott.
AMCHA Initiative, an organization committed to fighting anti-semitism on university campuses, is responding by taking matters to the California State University Board of Trustees. AMCHA explains that Professor Klein is breaking California Education Code 89005.5, which prohibits university employees from endorsing a boycott using university resources (in this case, web hosting and email) without explicit approval from the university trustees.
So, did the Board of Trustees, which includes several Jewish members, grant Klein permission? Thats exactly what AMCHA Initiative asked the university, in a series of correspondences you can view here. The response from the university up until now? CSU Northridge President Harrison responded to Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, the Co-founder of the AMCHA Initiative, that Professor Klein “has not violated Education Code 89005.5 because he has not used nor invoked the CSU name in support of his viewpoint.” With that, the university said it would look no further into this matter.
Nevertheless, AMCHA responded by stating that Code 89005.5 does “NOT require that an individual use or invoke the CSU name ‘in support of his viewpoint’ to be in violation of the statute, but only that he or she use the CSU name, without the permission of the CSU Trustees, to display…this name publicly at, or in connection with any…propaganda, advertising, or promotional activity of any kind which has for its purpose or any part of its purpose the support, endorsement, advancement…of…boycott.” So, merely using CSUN web hosting, which displays the CSUN name, to advocate for boycott without the permission of the trustees is in fact a violation of Code 89005.5.
Moreover, AMCHA argues that Klein was actually using the university’s name “in support of his viewpoint.” The fact is, Klein could have used private web hosting for free or at a low cost, but chose to use the university’s domain name for the past three years, despite being well aware of the concerns his webpage raised within the Jewish community. Klein even encouraged other academics to “do similar things, to go ahead and take a public stand against apartheid in Israel and ethnic cleansing, and all the injustices there,” as written in an article on the website “the Electronic Intifada”. Given these facts, as AMCHA writes, it’s reasonable to argue that “Klein was using the CSUN name to provide academic and institutional legitimacy ‘in support of his viewpoint,’ for the purpose of advancing his political ends.”
AMCHA is currently awaiting a subsequent response from the university, as it fights for a proper legal interpretation of 89005.5. With the increasing levels of virulently anti-Israel activities on California university campuses, it’s critical that the university is held accountable for its inaction with regard to Klein’s CSUN-hosted grossly anti-semitic webpage.
Read our June 3rd 2013 post The Amcha Initiative to find out more.
Contributed by CAMERA Intern Ariella Charny