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November 12, 2015 4:32 pm

CUNY Fails to Condemn Antisemitic Rally at Hunter College

avatar by Ruthie Blum

Hunter College in New York City. Photo: Hunter Catalog, CUNY.

Hunter College in New York City. Photo: Hunter Catalog, CUNY.

As part of a nationwide campaign on the part of left-wing students across the United States demanding tuition-free education and a host of other inalienable “rights,” a rally is being held this afternoon at Hunter College in Manhattan, The Algemeiner reported on Wednesday.

Launching into an openly antisemitic diatribe, the Facebook invitation to the “Million Student March” rally in the Big Apple – aimed at the City University of New York (CUNY) system – says: “The Zionist administration invests in Israeli companies, companies that support the Israeli occupation, hosts birthright programs and study abroad programs in occupied Palestine, and reproduces settler-colonial ideology throughout CUNY through Zionist content of education. While CUNY aims to produce the next generation of professional Zionists, SJP [NYC Students for Justice in Palestine] aims to change the university to fight for all peoples liberation.”

The above epithets were endorsed by: NYC Students for Justice in PalestineStudents for Justice in Palestine at Hunter College; Students for Justice in Palestine at Brooklyn College; Students for Justice in Palestine- St. Joseph’s College; Students for Justice in Palestine at College of Staten Island; Students for Justice in Palestine at John Jay CollegeCUNY School of Law Students for Justice in Palestine; Students for Justice in Palestine at Pace University – Pleasantville; NYU Students for Justice in Palestine; and Columbia Students for Justice in Palestine.

In response to The Algemeiner report, Jeffrey S. Wiesenfeld, a graduate of the CUNY system who served as a trustee for 15 years, said that “stakeholders in the system should know that when antisemitism goes unanswered by faculty, students and administration — in contrast to their prompt response to other hatreds — that the university is done a grave disservice in public reputation and in the good will of alumni and donors. SJP [Students for Justice in Palestine] is an anti-Jewish, bullying hate group, plain and simple. Their bigotry merits an appropriate response.”

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Hunter College was unable to provide a response, appropriate or otherwise, to a query from The Algemeiner on Thursday morning about how such language could be tolerated by a respectable institution of higher learning, because its media relations department had been unaware that such a hate-fest was about to take place on its premises — as were other college administrators. Therefore, Hunter College said, a reaction to the rally would not be forthcoming until a later date.

CUNY’s response – issued by vice chancellor for student affairs Frank Sanchez, was as standardized as it was swift, however:

At the City University of New York, we cherish the freedom of students to express their views, consistent with the protections provided by the First Amendment. Student freedom in this regard is an essential attribute of a great University where the independent search for truth is held in the highest esteem. With such freedom, however, comes an abiding responsibility. This responsibility includes respect for the rights of others inside and out of CUNY and for the University’s obligation to maintain a safe environment for all members of its community. Students should also be cognizant of the efforts of a few to distract attention from important issues in higher education such as learning, access and quality by invoking discriminatory language reeking of thinly veiled bigotry, prejudice, antisemitism or other behavior inconsistent with our educational mission. We can help assure such recognition by the high premium we place on dialogue and discussion at CUNY and by the expression of our own views while respecting the rights of those with whom we may disagree. At the end of the day, CUNY will retain its status as a great institution of higher education where valuable knowledge is both transmitted and created and our sense of community is affirmed and strengthened.

Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of leading Jewish human rights organization the Simon Wiesenthal Center, told The Algemeiner that he considers it “a good thing that CUNY has a stated policy that includes antisemitism as being inconsistent with its educational mission.”

However, he added, “Such inflammatory rhetoric that demeans and demonizes Zionism and Zionists and that attempts to link a vile extremist anti-Israel agenda to real-time economic and social issues relating to CUNY and the city of New York demands a more explicit condemnation from CUNY and from the political leadership of the city. Our community should join with fair-minded union leaders and other people of faith to see to it that this new lexicon of anti-Israel/Jewish hate is rejected by all New Yorkers.”

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