NYC Council to Conduct Unprecedented Probe on Growing Anti-Semitism at CUNY Campuses - The Jewish Voice
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Monday, February 6, 2023

NYC Council to Conduct Unprecedented Probe on Growing Anti-Semitism at CUNY Campuses

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By: Ilana Siyance  

New York City’s Council has announced that it will conduct an unprecedented probe into alleged antisemitism at the City University of New York and other local college campuses.

As reported by the NY Post, on June 8th, the Council’s Higher Education Committee will hold an oversight hearing, named “Examining Antisemitism on College Campuses”.  The probe’s launch was triggered by a pro-Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel, which was supported and endorsed by faculty members at the CUNY School of Law.

“The embracement and normalization of BDS by both CUNY students and faculty has fostered an extremely hostile campus environment that has resulted in the more blatant forms of Anti-Semitism that are becoming all too common in our city,” said Bronx Councilman Eric Dinowitz, who chairs the higher education committee as well as the council’s Jewish Caucus.  “It is crucial for the Council to ensure that our CUNY system, a national model for higher education, does not descend into the singling out of the only Jewish state in the world, and in turn, ostracize our Jewish students and residents,” added the councilman.  Dinowitz noted that there has been a nationwide rise in antisemitism on college campuses, and that “CUNY is no exception, having had multiple disturbing bias incidents and in many cases a culture of anti-Jewish sentiment that demands the attention of the City Council.”

In May, the CUNY Law school’s faculty voted to support the BDS movement, which Israel’s supporters say is equivalent to full blown anti-Semitism, and which prompted the investigation.  A spokesperson for Dinowitz said their office is currently confirming witnesses to present the case at the meeting next week, but that the hearing will surely include representatives from CUNY students, faculty and administration.

As per the Post, another incident, which sparked outrage, was when Pro-Palestinian activist Nerdeen Mohsen Kiswani was invited to speak at the CUNY Law School graduation ceremony.  Kiswan is the founder of Within Our Lifetime, an organization dedicated to the total eradication of Israel. The group has even been banned by Instagram for blatant hate speech.  CUNY Chancellor Felix Matos Rodriguez has replied to the criticism by saying that the students chose the speaker.  “They speak for themselves, not for the University, and the opinions they express are their own,” Rodriguez wrote.

The chancellor also replied, assuring he does not support BDS. “Let me begin by reminding you that I’m on record rejecting the original student resolution around BDS,” Rodriguez wrote on May 28 in an email reply to Jeffrey Wiesenfeld, an Israel supporter and former longtime trustee.  “I have also stated that CUNY does not support and to be clear cannot participate in BDS activities, and is required to divest public funds from any companies that do.”   He added, that the movement was “contrary to a university’s core mission to introduce students personally and academically to a world that can be vastly different from their own, particularly through international exchange programs, and to encourage them to engage a range of opinions and beliefs.”

Private colleges in the city, including NYU, may also be probed at the council’s meeting.  The Anti-Defamation League reported that NYS experienced a 24 percent jump in anti-Semitic incidents in 2021, now leading the country with the most incidents of anti-Semitism.


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