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UVA professor cancels class to support anti-Israel walkout

Protest comes as students vote on Boycott, Divest and Sanctions referendum

A University of Virginia professor on Monday canceled her class to support a walkout on campus timed to coincide with voting on a student referendum calling on the school to divest from companies with ties to Israel.

“I’m writing to let you know that I am canceling class today in solidarity with the ‘Yes on Divest Walkout’ that the UVA Apartheid Divest Coalition organized. I realize this issue is polarizing right now, so I want to take a moment to let you know why I made this choice,” Christa Robbins, an associate professor of art history at UVA, wrote in a Monday email to students, reported the Daily Caller, which obtained a copy of the memo.

“My decision to cancel class comes from my own sympathies with the people of Palestine and out of a desire to see them live freely,” Robbins wrote.

Roughly 100 protesters took part in the walkout, chanting mantras such as “Not another nickel, not another dime, no more money for Israel’s crimes,” “From Palestine to the Philippines, stop the U.S. war machine” and “Israel, you can’t hide, you’re committing genocide,” the Daily Progress reported, adding the results of the referendum will be announced Thursday.

The referendum argues “the State of Israel has engaged in systemic and violent practices that have led to the diminution of the rights of Palestinian people.”

ABC also reported the referendum “criticizes UVA’s Oct. 11 message that acknowledged the Oct. 7 Hamas terrorist attack on Israel,” alleging it “failed to address the crimes committed by the Israeli government and the ongoing ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people.”

At a similar walkout in October, University of Virginia students called for the destruction of Israel, the Washington Free Beacon reported.

Several Jewish and pro-Israel students told local news outlets this week they are being harassed and attacked on campus.

“There are students who have been spat upon, shoved, that have called horrible names, antisemitic slurs,” Joel Nied told the ABC News. ”Tragically there’s one kid that has been so intimidated by students in his dorm, for peace of mind he has to move off campus and sleep elsewhere and stop wearing his Yamika.”

“Other kids when they walk by these protests, they feel they need to tuck their jewelry, their Jewish stars into their sweaters and shirts so no one sees them. So, they’re hiding. They’re hiding their identity.”

He also said faculty are part of the problem, noting “About 70 faculty members signed a letter that among other things said that what happened on Oct. 7 needs to be viewed in context. I don’t know how anybody can try to contextualize what happened on Oct. 7 other than looking at it for what it was. It was a barbaric horrible attack.”

A campus spokesperson for UVA told ABC campus leaders condemn both antisemitism and Islamophobia.

The Daily Progress reported the referendum could be adopted with a simple majority but “is unlikely to have any immediate effect whatsoever. The referendum has no power over the school’s governing Board of Visitors or the UVa Investment Management Company, the agency charged with regulating the school’s endowment fund.”

Robbins is not the only professor in recent months to bolster anti-Israel efforts on campus. In October a TA at UCLA offered students extra credit to attend a pro-Palestinian teach-in.

MORE: Antisemitism spike on campuses nationwide 

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