Campus Watch June 8, 2023

A roundup of incidents, good and bad, happening on college campuses.
June 8, 2023

CUNY Denounces Anti-Israel Commencement Speech As “Hate Speech”

The City University of New York (CUNY) issued a statement on May 30 denouncing an anti-Israel speaker’s CUNY School of Law commencement speech on May 12 as being “hate speech.”

The speech, delivered by Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) activist Fatima Mohammed, featured her applauding CUNY Law’s faculty and students for endorsing the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement “as Israel continues to indiscriminately rain bullets and bombs on worshippers, murdering the old, the young, attacking even funerals and graveyards, as it encourages lynch mobs to target Palestinian homes and businesses.”

CUNY Chancellor Felix V. Matos Rodriguez and the Board of Trustees said in their statement, “The remarks by a student-selected speaker at the CUNY Law School graduation, unfortunately, fall into the category of hate speech as they were a public expression of hate toward people and communities based on their religion, race or political affiliation. The Board of Trustees of the City University of New York condemns such hate speech.” 

Legal Groups Call on IRS to Investigate CUNY Law’s Tax-Exempt Status Over Faculty Resolution Supporting BDS

Two legal groups sent a joint letter to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) urging the agency to investigate and potentially revoke the City University of New York’s (CUNY) School of Law’s tax-exempt status over the law school’s faculty unanimously passing a resolution supporting the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement last year.

“This resolution directly violates CUNY’s non-profit status as a 501(c)(3) non-profit entity, which prohibits engaging in substantial political or lobbying activities. It also runs counter to its ‘educational’ mission, because there is a difference between education and indoctrination,” Ostrovsky and Goldfeder argued. “To our knowledge, the CUNY Law School is the only law school in the United States that has formally adopted BDS as a core component of its educational mission. Today, the CUNY School of Law has become a staging ground for the systematic promotion of BDS activities, and anti-Zionist and antisemitic bias on campus, all of which are the opposite of ‘educational.’”

NY Republican Congressman Introduces Bill to Defund Colleges Allowing Antisemitism on Campus

Representative Mike Lawler (R-NY) introduced a bill on June 1 that will revoke federal funding from colleges that allow antisemitism to be promoted on campus.

The bill, called the “Stop Antisemitism on College Campuses Act,” states that any higher education institution “will not authorize, facilitate, provide funding for, or otherwise support 8 any event promoting Anti-Semitism on campus.” 

“Many in the Jewish community in New York and across the country were outraged when a student spewed outrageous anti-semitic rhetoric at CUNY Law School’s graduation in May,” Lawler said in a statement. “No college or university should receive a single dollar of federal education funding if they peddle in the promotion of anti-semitism at an event on their campus.”

More Than 100 Jewish Groups Urge 250 Universities to Cut Ties With American Anthropological Association If They Pass BDS Resolution

A letter signed by 107 Jewish groups urged 250 universities who partner with the American Anthropological Association (AAA) to cut ties with the organization should they pass a resolution calling for academic boycotts of Israel.

The letter, spearheaded by the AMCHA Initiative, “not only threatens the core principles of academic freedom, but also poses significant risks to the educational opportunities and experiences of your students and faculty, the reputation of your institution, and the inclusivity and diversity of your campus community.” “Research has shown a clear correlation between academic boycotts and the incitement of anti-Jewish hostility and antisemitism. Endorsing an academic boycott would create an unwelcoming and unsafe environment for Jewish students and faculty on your campus,” the letter later added. It concluded with a call for the universities condemn the resolution and academic boycotts generally and, should the AAA pass the resolution, sever ties with the AAA altogether.

Antisemitism Watchdog Urges Universities to Defund Student Groups Engaging in Israel Apartheid Week

The Combat Antisemitism Movement (CAM) watchdog is urging universities “not to provide activity funds” to student groups that engage in Israel Apartheid Week (IAW) on campus, arguing that such activity results in “hostile environments that intimidate Jewish students.”

CAM released a report in conjunction with the Israel on Campus Coalition on May 31 titled “Contemporary Antisemitism on American College Campuses” stating that IAW displays “call for the eradication of the Jewish state and demonize its supporters through the promulgation of the anti-Zionist ideology based on historical revisionism.” “Jewish students on campus are often pressured to either abandon or diminish public support of a key component of their own identities,” the report stated.

The Algemeiner defined activity funds in the report as “a pool of money to which undergraduates contribute involuntarily to subsidize the activities of student clubs”; the CAM-ICC report argued that starving groups engaging in IAW from these funds is necessary to “ensure principles of tolerance and respect for diversity are upheld.” The report also called for universities to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of antisemitism and for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion office to “prioritize antisemitism training programs.”

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