Nearly 150 New York University (NYU) School of Medicine faculty and alumni urged President Andrew Hamilton to take action against anti-Semitism in a letter May 22.
The letter, which was spearheaded by Alums for Campus for Fairness, argues that while Hamilton has expressed opposition to NYU Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) receiving a Presidential Service Award, no action has been taken against SJP and they continue to have “a megaphone to spread bigotry at our institution and has been rewarded for doing so.” The faculty and alumni also praised Hamilton for condemning the Department of Social and Cultural Analysis (SCA) for advocating a boycott against the NYU’s Tel Aviv program, however, they “believe there is still work to do.”
“The problem of anti-Semitism on college campuses nationally has been growing and has been clearly documented,” the letter stats. “We believe it is critical for NYU to take the lead, not only at our own institution, but for other institutions as well. Silence is tantamount to condonation and lack of clear condemnation is equal to acceptance.”
The faculty and alumni called on Hamilton to revoke SJP’s award, rebuke the SCA and clearly state his “commitment to protect and uplift all students, including Jewish and Zionist students.”
Alums for Campus Fairness Associate Director Joel Bond said in a statement, “Alums for Campus Fairness is proud to have been part of this crucial effort to bring together alumni and faculty from the NYU School of Medicine to speak out about the climate of antisemitism on campus. Our chapter at NYU, 500 strong, stands in support of the signatories of this letter to President Hamilton.”
Hamilton responded with a Thursday letter stating that he is on “the same side” of the faculty and alumni.
“The fixation that some groups on campuses across the country, including our own, have on pillorying and ostracizing Israel is deeply troubling,” Hamilton wrote. “I do not believe these ideas are embraced by large numbers of people either at NYU or elsewhere; nevertheless; those of us who disagree with their point of view and their tactics will need to remain firm. So, in looking at your letter, I could not help but think what a satisfaction it must be to those who do wish for sanctions and the ostracism of Israel to see those who are on the other side divided rather than united. Perhaps you did not intend that; I would like to think so.”
Hamilton concluded his response with a pledge that NYU’s “operations in Israel or elsewhere” will remain intact and that he won’t let any of the recent incidents of anti-Semitism impact “the well-being and sense of belonging of any of our students.”
On May 20, Northwestern University Professor NYU Doctoral Graduate Steven Thrasher praised NYU SJP and Jewish Voice for Peace as well as the SCA for supporting the BDS movement and “against the apartheid state government in Israel.” Hamilton called Thrasher’s speech “quite objectionable” and apologized to attendees.
Judea Pearl, chancellor professor of computer sciences at UCLA, National Academy of Sciences member, Daniel Pearl Foundation president, said in a statement to the Journal that Hamilton needs to explain “why BDS is morally reprehensible, why Jewish and Zionist students and faculty are welcome to NYU, explicate the distinct contributions they are making to the cultural tapestry of NYU, and emphasize the inspirational power that Israel’s miracle has had on other minorities aspiring for self-determination.” Pearl renounced his 2013 NYU Distinguished Alumnus Award in April due to NYU SJP receiving a Presidential Service Award.