NY State Senator Introduces Bill to Halt Public Funding of State and City Colleges Over Hate Speech, Israel Boycotts
A New York State senator recently introduced a bill to halt the public funding of campus organizations that engage in hate speech and anti-Israel boycotts, the New York Daily News reported on Monday.
Long Island Sen. Jack Martins (R-Nassau County) said his bill would defund state and city university campus groups that actively promote and take part in boycotts of American allies, who are defined by law as Israel, South Korea, Ireland, Japan and all NATO countries. State and city universities are already prohibited by law from engaging in international boycotts against allied nations.
Martins told the Daily News that the bill was born out of frustration with City University of New York (CUNY) officials, who, he said, have failed to act to combat growing antisemitism on their campuses. CUNY is currently conducting an investigation into allegations that several of its student groups — particularly Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) — actively engage in antisemitic activity.
“We have waited months for the administration to complete its investigation and heard nothing. In the absence of responsible action, we have no choice but to step in and prevent taxpayer dollars being used to promote hate and specifically, antisemitism,” he told newspaper. “Just as we shouldn’t invest in companies that try to harm Israel, neither should we fund student groups that target Jews for harassment, intimidation and abuse.”
Martins said his bill follows similar calls made by legislators in Illinois, New Jersey and South Carolina against the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which, he said, “seeks to advance antisemitic, anti-freedom and anti-capitalism principles.”
A CUNY spokesman who spoke to the Daily News took issue with the bill on the grounds that it may violate the First Amendment, stating, “The constitutional concerns raised by the bill are increased by the vagueness of the terms ‘intolerance’ and ‘hate speech,’ which are not defined in the bill, and by the fact that boycotts are defined as only those against certain ‘allied countries,’ thereby selectively banning advocacy of some boycotts but not others.”
In the bill’s sponsor memo, Martins wrote that his proposal “would not abridge any element of free speech, but would merely prevent the state of New York from being dragged into a discriminatory agenda directed by those who seek to advance principles that are antithetical to our state, its constitution and its citizens.”
Reports of anti-Israel and antisemitic activity on CUNY campuses are increasing in frequency. Earlier in June, a CUNY disciplinary committee handed down the minimum punishment to two Brooklyn College students involved in an “anti-Zionist and anti-Jewish” February protest, at which they allegedly called a Jewish faculty member a “Zionist pig.” In April, CUNY’s Doctoral Students’ Council overwhelmingly passed a resolution — 42 to 19 — calling for an academic boycott of Israel. and issued a statement in support of SJP.