On April 4th, Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) announced on their Facebook page that they were selected to receive the NYU President’s Service Award, given to students that have had an “extraordinary” and “positive” impact on the school’s community. It is clear to so many students on campus, Jewish, non-Jewish and pro-Israel, that this group does the exact opposite of improving the “quality of student life at New York University.” This has not yet been confirmed by NYU, but even the possibility cannot be ignored and must be addressed.
SJP has worked immensely hard each year to demonstrate their anti-Israel hatred, sometimes even violently, in more ways than one. Realize Israel, a pro-Israel group on NYU’s campus, mentioned in a Facebook post that members of SJP have defaced Israel’s flag, physically assaulted pro-Israel students, and continually present factually inaccurate anti-Israel resolutions to the Student Government Assembly. Why celebrate such behaviors with an award? Why give an award to an organization that, in itself, is “anti” and not to an organization that is, solely, “pro?”
We ask NYU’s Senior Vice President of Student Affairs, Marc Wais, if any of the pro-Israel groups on campus will be selected for this year’s award because none were chosen in 2018. We hope that NYU’s leadership recognizes that 1) Israel is at the forefront of improving the world with its focus on human rights, diversity, and equality for all its citizens 2) Israel, a country the size of New Jersey, is leading the world in innovation within the healthcare, agriculture, and various technological fields. 3) When Humanitarian crises strike throughout world, particularly natural disasters, Israel is, always, one of the first countries to utilize their financial resources, technology, and manpower to help recover and rebuild. How ironic is it that, a group, who has blatantly shamed students who devote their efforts to support a country that helps communities all over the world, is now being praised?
In April 2018, NYU President Andrew D. Hamilton denounced the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. This was an amazing step forward for the community and for helping Jewish and pro-Israel students feel safe on campus. The Jewish, non-Jewish and pro-Israel community thanked him then and again say now— THANK YOU President Hamilton for standing against the BDS movement. But why is the student organization that very much supports the BDS movement allegedly receiving your prestigious President’s Service Award?
President Andrew D. Hamilton must review this decision. The severity of the situation is unfathomable, as the repercussion of this action would result in a great detriment to the community— especially for Jewish and pro-Israel students who already feel quite unsafe.
As a student studying in New York City and a member of the pro-Israel community, I feel that honoring SJP would be a huge step back in the progress we have made in striving to make our communities feel safe and comfortable. So many students feel ashamed or embarrassed in their pro-Israel ideals because of organizations like SJP, who aim to disregard, deter, and diminish any such freedoms of belief and support for Israel. I hope that this sentiment is recognized and seriously considered before making the mistake of honoring this organization.
In the words on Alan Dershowitz: “No country in the history of the world has ever contributed more to humankind and accomplished more for its people in so brief a period of time as Israel has done since its relatively recent rebirth in 1948.”
Freshman at Columbia University
Member, Israeli-American Council–Act.IL New York Media Room