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California University President Placed On Leave After Announcing Israel Divestment

University students supporting Palestinian people stage a rally to demand a stop to the crackdown on demonstrators at rallies for Palestinians on the campus of U.S. universities, near the U.S. Embassy in Seoul, South Korea, Friday, May 10, 2024. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

Sonoma State University president Ming Tung “Mike” Lee was placed on leave after an email surfaced showing his planned announcement to concede to anti-Israel protesters’ demands, including to divest from and boycott Israel.

The California school’s Students for Justice in Palestine chapter posted screenshots of Lee’s email, which commits to divest from and boycott the Jewish nation, as well as create an Advisory Council of Students for Justice in Palestine, recognize the Palestinian identity and build out a curriculum and programing for Palestine Studies, as well as make a statement in support of a permanent ceasefire in Gaza.

Sonoma State University, which is part of the California State University system, became the first school in the country to explicitly announce an academic boycott of Israel.

“In my attempt to find agreement with one group of students, I marginalized other members of our student population and community,” Lee said in an apology email obtained by the Washington Examiner. “I realize the harm that this has caused, and I take full ownership of it. I deeply regret the unintended consequences of my actions.”

In his apology email, Lee said his announcement was “drafted and sent without the approval of, or consultation with, the Chancellor or other system leaders.”

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