Jun 7, 2011

#BDS: “Not in our name”: #AUB faculty, staff and students object to honoring James Wolfensohn

"A group of faculty members are sending the below petition objecting  to honoring James Wolfensohn at AUB’s upcoming commencement.

If you are an AUB faculty, staff, or student and would like to sign  the letter, please send an email message from your AUB email  account with the subject line “sign petition” to  wolfpetition@gmail.com. In the body, simply indicate your home faculty  (e.g. FHS, FEA, etc) and position (e.g. professor, staff member, student).

Dear Colleagues,

As you may know, the American University of Beirut plans to bestow an honorary doctorate on former World Bank president James Wolfensohn during the University’s 142nd commencement scheduled on June 25, 2011. Mr. Wolfensohn has also been scheduled to deliver the keynote address at the commencement ceremony. We believe that honoring Mr. Wolfensohn – a former president of the World Bank[1], standing member of the international advisory council of the Israel Democracy Institute[2], and investor in a company (Better Place) that among other activities intends to build infrastructure to serve Israeli settlers in the West Bank[3]– symbolically undermines AUB’s legacy in the struggle for social justice and its historical connection to Beirut, to Palestine and beyond.

In defense of this legacy, we invite you to join us in objecting to Mr. Wolfensohn’s invitation to this year’s commencement and honorary doctorate bestowal by signing below. We also invite you to join us in calling for a more transparent and inclusive process for bestowal of honorary doctorates that respects the values that have most endeared AUB to its local context.  The signed letter will be presented to the AUB community and to the general public.


 [1] Numerous books and scholarly articles have documented the devastating effects of World Bank policies in the global South. E.g. Danaher (ed.), 50 Years is Enough, South End Press 1994. For specific coverage of the Wolfensohn era, see W. Bello, Dilemmas of Domination: the Unmaking of the American Empire, Henry Holt & Company, 2005 and see http://focusweb.org/the-limits-of-reform-the-wolfensohn-era-at-the-world-bank.html?Itemid=124

[2] See www.idi.org.il.  For the mission of IDI, which includes supporting Israel as a “democratic and Jewish” state, see http://www.idi.org.il/sites/english/AboutIDI/Pages/HistoryandMission.aspx.

[3] Wolfensohn and Co. LLC is listed as a partner of Better Place (http://www.betterplace.com/the-company-partners), a company whose Israel subsidiary (http://www.betterplace.com/global-progress-israel) is building infrastructure to support electric vehicles. Also see Ali Abunimah, “Quartet ex-envoy’s investment helps Israel greenwash settlements,” The Electronic Intifada, 6 May 2010 available at http://electronicintifada.net/content/quartet-ex-envoys-investment-helps-israel-greenwash-settlements/8805  See also http://www.gojerusalem.com/discover/article_1226/Jerusalem-green-lights-electric-car-infrastructure"


  1. AnonymousJune 08, 2011

    What can AUB alumni do?

  2. AnonymousJune 08, 2011

    Do alumni votes count?

  3. Kindly contact any of the current AUB students or teachers concerning that.

  4. AnonymousJune 09, 2011

    It's ridiculous. Thank you for taking the initiative to do this.

    "We also invite you to join us in calling for a more transparent and inclusive process for bestowal of honorary doctorates that respects the values that have most endeared AUB to its local context." Precisely.

  5. I agree with the alumni comments: you're really missing out by not including signatures of people who've been in some way academically affiliated with AUB. You should accept these for your application as well (e.g. alumni / former faculty / former staff / former research associates / etc.).

  6. AnonymousJune 09, 2011

    I'm tryna read about this guy and see really.