Alums for Campus Fairness & StandWithUs Send Letter to Bucknell

Alums for Campus Fairness & StandWithUs Send Letter to Bucknell

January 4, 2019



John C. Bravman, President

Robert Midkiff, Jr., Interim Provost

Board of Trustees

Bucknell University

Lewisburg, PA 17837


Dear President Bravman, Interim Provost Midkiff, and Members of the Board of Trustees:

It has come to the attention of StandWithUs and Alums for Campus Fairness that Bucknell University (“Bucknell” or the “University”) intends to host an event on campus next month featuring anti-Israel activist Miko Peled as the invited speaker. In light of the anti-Semitic positions Mr. Peled publicly espouses, which marginalize and stigmatize Israeli and Jewish students on campus, we write to request that the University take all reasonable and necessary action to affirmatively and publicly distance itself from such discrimination and ensure a safe and hospitable environment for the entire Bucknell community, including, as others have recently done, rescinding Mr. Peled’s invitation to speak.

By way of introduction, StandWithUs (SWU) is an international, non-profit education organization inspired by the belief that education is the road to peace. SWU is dedicated to educating people of all ages and backgrounds about Israel and to combating the anti-Semitism and extremism that often distort the issues surrounding the Arab-Israeli conflict. In fulfillment of this mission, SWU regularly works with state and federal legislators, local government bodies, and college and university students to promote policies and discussions that correct, rather than perpetuate, common prejudices in this context. Alums for Campus Fairness (ACF) is an organization that brings together thousands of alumni to counter anti-Semitism and promote an open and fair dialogue on campus regarding Israel.

According to Bucknell’s own position statement regarding Diversity & Inclusion, we understand that the University has similarly committed itself to promoting “a more inclusive and supportive educational environment for students.”[1] This necessarily requires programming that fosters not merely access to but, indeed, respect fordivergent viewpoints. Mr. Peled’s public statements about the Arab-Israeli conflict fail to satisfy this standard. Rather than merely espousing a viewpoint critical of the State of Israel or its policies, Mr. Peled has aligned himself with the anti-Israel, anti-Semitic Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement[2] (a campaign that seeks to delegitimize Israel’s right to exist and has thus been roundly condemned as antithetical to the interests of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania[3]), and has called for a single Palestinian state stretching “from the river to the sea”.[4] Leaving no doubt as to the meaning of this latter phrase, Mr. Peled has gone so far as to unequivocally claim on Twitter that “#Israel has no legitimacy”[5]. This dangerous sentiment is directly in keeping with the meaning of this phrase as used by Hamas leadership, which has declared that Palestine, “from the [Jordan] River to the [Mediterranean] Sea” (i.e., land that currently includes the entire state of Israel) belongs to the Arab and Islamic world, and that Israel is “illegitimate”.[6] In 2016, Mr. Peled was disinvited from speaking at Princeton after tweeting that “Jews have reputation for 4being sleazy thieves.”[7]In addition to characterizing Mr. Peled’s tweets as “anti-Semitic and hateful,” in cancelling the speaking invitation, the Princeton Committee on Palestine rightly acknowledged that rhetoric such as that proffered by Mr. Peled is “counterproductive to an educational event on the conflict.”[8]

Not only are such statements offensive, divisive and devoid of educational value; they are potentially dangerous to the safety and well-being of members of the Bucknell community. As a recent study[9] indicates, “[t]here is a significant association between acts of anti-Jewish hostility and BDS-supporting speaker events sponsored by academic units associated with Gender, Ethnic, and Middle East Studies . . . .”[10] According to the study, in 2015 and 2016, of the 183 acts on campuses that targeted Jewish students for harm, nearly 70% occurred at schools whose faculty sponsored pro-BDS speaker events.[11] More importantly, the study concludes, “[w]hen anti-Zionist expression occurs at departmentally-sponsored events, it confers academic legitimacy on the expression and encourages students to adopt similar anti-Israel perspectives and engage in similar anti-Zionist expression.”[12] As the study found, such schools (where students engage in anti-Zionist expression), “were 7 times more likely to have incidents that targeted Jewish students for harm than schools with no evidence of students’ anti-Zionist expression.”[13]

In light of Bucknell’s acknowledged legal obligation, including under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964,[14] to refrain from discriminating against students based on race or national origin – including through avoiding the creation of a hostile environment – the invitation to campus of a speaker who traffics in blatantly bigoted and educationally bankrupt sentiments should be of significant concern to the University. This event sends at best a mixed message, and at worst a message of explicit acceptance of such views, which are antithetical to an educational environment of inclusivity, support and respect and have demonstrably led to the targeting of Jewish students on campuses across the United States.

Mr. Peled’s track record, including the egregious examples identified herein, provides ample justification for the University to rescind his invitation to speak, as groups at both Princeton and San Diego State University have done.[15] If, however, the University is unwilling to follow the lead of such groups in recognizing that Mr. Peled’s vitriol is entirely devoid of academic merit, it should, at a minimum, take the necessary steps not only to publicly disavow agreement with all forms of anti-Semitism, including Mr. Peled’s public statements, but also to affirmatively promote presentation of divergent views by inviting (preferably to this same event in order to avoid the appearance of legitimizing Mr. Peled’s pernicious views) an academic speaker who can offer a counter perspective (i.e., pro-Israel / anti-BDS) on these issues. We would be happy to offer suggestions of such qualified individuals.

We appreciate your prompt attention to this matter and request that, in light of the foregoing, the University reconsider the decision to expend its resources in offering a speech platform for the propagation of anti-Semitic messages such as those espoused by Mr. Peled. We also welcome the opportunity for dialogue with the University concerning other steps it might take to ensure a non-discriminatory, non-hostile environment for all members of the campus community, including, particularly in this context, its Jewish members.



Roz Rothstein, CEO                                       Avi D. Gordon

StandWithUs                                                  Alums for Campus Fairness


Cc:       Amy C. Foerster, General Counsel

[1] Bucknell University, “Diversity & Inclusion,” available at

[2] See, e.g., (Nov. 22, 2018) & Dissident Voice, Interview with Miko Peled, Sep. 21, 2018, available at (Peled: “Only a focused and well co-ordinated strategy to delegitimize and bring down the Zionist regime can bring justice to Palestine. BDS has the best potential for that . . . .”).

[3] See Press Release, “Governor Wolf Signs Bill Prohibiting State from Contracting with Businesses that Boycott Israel,” Nov. 4, 2016, available at

[4] See (Dec. 31, 2018) & (Jan. 1, 2019).

[5] See

[6] See Middle East Media Research Institute, “Hamas Leader Khaled Mash’al: We Will Not Relinquish an Inch of Palestine, from the River to the Sea,” Dec. 7, 2012, available at

[7] Anthony Berteaux, “Campus activists silent in face of anti-Semitic author,” Daily Aztec, Sep. 23, 2016,  at

[8] See Princeton Committee on Palestine Facebook post, available at

[9] AMCHA Initiative, “The Impact of Academic Boycotters of Israel on U.S. Campuses,” available at

[10] Id. at 18.

[11] Id. at 17.

[12] Id. at 20.

[13] Id. at 18 (emphasis in original).

[14] Seee.g., Bucknell University, Course Catalog (2018-2019), Policy Statements, available at

[15] See Princeton Committee on Palestine Facebook post, available at & SDSU Students for Justice in Palestine Facebook post, available at