The City University of New York (CUNY) School of Law’s Student Government Association passed a resolution endorsing the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement on December 2 targeting groups like Hillel.
The resolution accuses CUNY and CUNY Law of being “directly complicit in the ongoing apartheid, genocide, and war crimes perpetrated by the state of Israel against the Palestinian people through its investments in and contracts with companies profiting off of Israeli war crimes” as well as their collaboration with Israeli academic institutions. “Israeli academic institutions are complicit in the occupation and colonization of Palestine and the state’s violence against Palestinians by developing military hardware, weapons, drones, and surveillance technologies; offering military training courses and posts for high-ranking military officers; declaring, via their leaders and other surrogates, their support for Israeli military offensives; discriminating against Palestinian students; and repressing voices in support of Palestinians and their struggle for self-determination,” the resolution added.
Additionally, the resolution alleged that CUNY and CUNY Law faculty have ties to the Israeli Defense Forces and linked to a professor’s faculty page. It also alleged that “a number of student organizations across CUNY receive money from the State of Israel, or from organizations lobbying on behalf of the State of Israel, and whose mission includes support for the State of Israel, and whose practices include surveillance, intimidation, harassment of Palestine solidarity activists on campuses. These organizations include Hillel, CAMERA, StandWithUs, Bulldogs for Israel, Israel Independence Day Committee, United 4 Israel, Israel Student Association, Students Supporting Israel at City College of New York.”
The resolution concluded with a call for the university to divest from companies that conduct business with Israel, end all Israeli exchange programs and “to cut all ties with organizations that repress Palestinian organizing and end its complicity in the ongoing censorship, harassment, and intimidation of Palestine solidarity activists, including through ending contracts, academic collaborations, and refusing to be complicit in the targeted harassment and silencing of Palestine solidarity activists.”
#ANTISEMITISM: 12/2/21, CUNY Law Student Gov't passed academic BDS resolution, targets Hillel, other campus orgs, birthright, academic collaboration, grants, etc
— > subverts edu opportunities & academic freedom of students, faculty.https://t.co/R7BNhcyUg9 #NoAcademicBDS pic.twitter.com/0lpXZ2RN1S
— The AMCHA Initiative (@AMCHAInitiative) December 3, 2021
CUNY Law Jewish Law Student Association (JLSA), who co-sponsored the resolution, celebrated its passage on Twitter. “This resolution demands that @CUNYLaw live up to its claim of being the #2 law school for racial justice by ending its complicity in Israeli war crimes. @CUNYLaw students want an end to the violent occupation of Palestinian lands and call on all @CUNY campuses to join us!”
this resolution demands that @CUNYLaw live up to its claim of being the #2 law school for racial justice by ending its complicity in Israeli war crimes.@CUNYLaw students want an end to the violent occupation of Palestinian lands and call on all @CUNY campuses to join us!
— CUNY JLSA (@cunyjlsa) December 2, 2021
Other Jewish groups denounced the resolution.
“We are alarmed and concerned that CUNY Law Student Government is calling on CUNY Law School to ‘cut all ties’ with Hillel, the premier Jewish student organization on college campuses, and several other Zionist and predominantly Jewish student groups,” Anti-Defamation League New York / New Jersey Regional Director Scott Richman said in a statement. “Combined with the call to end all CUNY Israeli exchange programs, this BDS resolution has the effect of ostracizing and alienating a large majority of Jewish students on campus. It does nothing to help foster Israeli-Palestinian peace and a two-state solution. We hope that the CUNY administration will take swift action in condemning this resolution.”
Alarmed and concerned by @CUNYLaw Student Government's call to 'cut all ties' with Hillel and others. Read our full statement from Reg. Dir. @scottarichman:https://t.co/pBWvk3Qp1t pic.twitter.com/9lz6I0HV6s
— ADL New York / New Jersey (@ADL_NYNJ) December 3, 2021
StandWithUs CEO and Co-Founder Roz Rothstein similarly said in a statement to the Journal, “We’re proud to support Israel and students who face the ignorance and hatred represented by this shameful resolution. Attacking Jewish organizations and trying to shut down study abroad programs makes clear that this has nothing to do with human rights or justice. This campaign is about isolating the Jewish community on campus, undermining academic freedom, and preventing students from traveling to Israel to broaden their education and make up their own minds. The CUNY Law and the larger CUNY system should strongly condemn this hateful agenda, which undermines the basic purpose of the university as a whole.”
AMCHA Initiative Director Tammi Rossman-Benjamin also said in a statement to the Journal, “This shameful student government resolution targets multiple Jewish campus organizations, including Hillel, as well as a specific Jewish academic, placing her in harm of being doxxed or worse, and it calls for actions that directly subvert the educational opportunities and academic freedom of CUNY students and faculty. Last week when the NYU Review of Law and Social Change endorsed an academic boycott, NYU immediately condemned the move. CUNY must do the same with its Law School student government.” The Journal reported on the aforementioned NYU incident on November 24.
“CUNY’s campuses are known for pervasive hostility toward Jewish students and now its law students are going even further and attempting to take away Jewish students’ rights and marginalize Jewish and pro-Israel students and faculty on campus,” Rossman-Benjamin added. “The Chancellor must take this opportunity to make it abundantly clear that targeting, harming and discriminating against Jewish students and faculty will not be tolerated, and the student government should now be at risk of having its charter revoked for this egregious abuse of power in their targeting of an entire campus community group for harm.”
Students and Faculty for Equality (SAFE) at CUNY, a bipartisan group of CUNY faculty and students that protests against the exclusion of Zionist Jews on campus, said in a statement to the Journal, “It’s important to understand that this resolution, which is dripping with hate and discriminates based on nationality, ethnicity, and religion, does not represent the views of the vast majority of CUNY students. This, and the entire CUNY BDS and anti-Zionist movement, is organized not by students, but by bigoted faculty members and PSC-CUNY delegates and officers. It is no coincidence that this resolution takes the next hateful step forward from the PSC-CUNY resolution of June 10.” The PSC, which stands for the Professional Staff Congress and is the professors’ union, passed a resolution on June 10 that accused Israel of displacing Palestinians and subjecting them to apartheid.
“CUNY must act immediately to denounce this bigoted, discriminatory resolution and take decisive action to ensure that the illegal and hateful measures called for therein are never realized,” the group added. “In February 2021, CUNY and the PSC-CUNY were already found responsible by the EEOC [Equal Employment Opportunity Commission] and for discriminating against Zionist and Observant Jews; they have done nothing in response to these findings of liability. The PSC’s discrimination and harassment of Zionist and Observant Jews has only escalated and CUNY’s failure to act and to comply with the law has led to horrific harassment of Zionist and Observant Jews on its campuses; this is yet the latest example.”
The law school and student government did not respond to the Journal’s requests for comment.
UPDATE: A spokesperson from CUNY pointed the Journal to a statement from CUNY Chancellor Matos Rodriguez in July saying that “membership organizations” only “speak for themselves” and “do not necessarily represent the views of the City University of New York.” He acknowledged “that these statements can sometimes cause pain and create tension within the CUNY community, especially when members of our community are on opposing sides of divisive issues. That is why in recent years we have focused on elevating dialogue and building bridges between people of different backgrounds, many of whom have strong passionate views.
“It is incumbent on all of us, especially those of us in higher education, to promote tolerance and civic engagement and to respectfully have difficult—even painful—conversations on the most trying and seemingly insurmountable issues when needed.”