A Southern California college, with apparent support from U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., voted Thursday to end its only study-abroad program with Israel -- although its president said he would not follow the college council's recommendation.
Pitzer College, a private liberal arts college, motioned to suspend its program with Israel’s University of Haifa. The school’s governing council, composed of faculty and student senators, passed the motion 67-28, with eight abstentions, The Student Life reported.
However, President Melvin Oliver issued a lengthy statement after the vote saying he would disregard the college council's vote. He said that ending the program would curtail the academic freedom of students and would cause "irreparable" harm to the college's reputation.
"The recommendation puts in place a form of academic boycott of Israel and, in the process, sets us on a path away from the free exchange of ideas, a direction which ultimately destroys the academy’s ability to fulfill our educational mission. I categorically oppose any form of academic boycott of any country," he said.
According to the Claremont Independent, a motion approved by the College faculty in November called for the ending of the program until "the Israeli state ends its restrictions on entry to Israel based on ancestry and/or political speech and...the Israeli state adopts policies granting visas for exchanges to Palestinian universities on a fully equal basis as it does to Israeli universities.”
Earlier this week, Tlaib was pictured on social media holding a folder labeled: "#SuspendPitzerHaifa."
In November, Oliver pointed to evident contradictions in singling out Israel.
“Why would we not suspend our program with China? Or take our longest standing program in Nepal, where the Pitzer in Nepal program has been run for over 40 years. During that time they have had a bloody civil war that killed 19,000 people,” he said. “Why Israel?”
Fox News' Adam Shaw contributed to this report.