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February 24, 2016 3:00 pm

Major Jewish Organization Demands CUNY Investigate Anti-Israel Student Group’s ‘Hateful, Divisive, Antisemitic’ Activities

avatar by Shiryn Ghermezian and Andrew Pessin

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November SJP demonstration at Hunter College. Photo: StandWithUs/screenshot.

November SJP demonstration at Hunter College. Photo: StandWithUs/screenshot.

Jewish students face a hostile and intimidating climate across the campuses of The City University of New York (CUNY), according to a letter that a pro-Israel advocacy group wrote to CUNY this week and shared with The Algemeiner.

The 14-page letter, penned by the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA), documented incidents at four of the 23 CUNY campuses, attributing them and the pervading anti-Jewish atmosphere to local chapters of the national group, Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP).

In the letter, the ZOA urged that SJP be “fully investigated,” and if found to be in violation of campus rules, have its permission to operate on any of CUNY’s campuses rescinded. The ZOA also made several recommendations, including that CUNY (1) publicly condemn the group and “its hateful, divisive, and antisemitic actions;” (2) publicly state that “there will be zero tolerance for antisemitism at CUNY;” and (3) “educate the CUNY community about the many forms that antisemitism takes today.”

The ZOA concluded: “By threatening Jews with violence, harassing and intimidating Jewish students, engaging in name-calling, and marginalizing and excluding Jewish students, the SJP’s conduct is antisemitic… Such bigotry would never be tolerated by CUNY if it were being directed against another ethnic, racial or other targeted group.”

Among the incidents documented in the letter were:

  • At Hunter College, in November of 2015, SJP turned a rally for free public college tuition into an event attacking “Israel, ‘Zionists,’ and Jews.”  As reported by The Algemeiner, dozens of demonstrators chanted “Long live the intifada” — the term used for the violent Palestinian uprisings against Israeli Jews — while shouting at Jewish students and calling them “racists,” “white supremacists” and “Nazis.”
  • At Brooklyn College, in October of 2015, SJP members chalked messages on public sidewalks such as “Resistance is justified when people are occupied.” The letter explained that “’Resistance’ is code for terrorism and violence against innocent Jews.” SJP also called for a “Third Intifada” on its Facebook page. The Algemeiner reported last week that  students interrupted a faculty meeting at Brooklyn College and demanded “Zionists off campus!” They also called the faculty chair of the meeting, who was wearing a yarmulke, a “Zionist pig!”
  • At the College of Staten Island, in November of 2015, SJP had a rally calling for an intifada and demonstrators accused “Zionists” of controlling CUNY and being responsible for high tuition.

In addition to its recommendations, the ZOA’s letter reminded CUNY of its federal obligations under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act to remedy “a hostile antisemitic campus environment,” and of the US Department of Education’s recent insistence that institutions of higher education be “environments in which students are free from discrimination and harassment based on their race, religion, or national origin.”

One current CUNY student, Baruch College business major Joshua Buniak, told The Algemeiner: “I strongly believe that any hateful group, affiliated with anyone-regardless of race, age, gender, religion, or orientation, doesn’t have any place at any university… It’s horrible that these events happened, and even worse is that nobody has done anything about it.”

A former CUNY Queens College student told The Algemeiner, “I’m outraged because…  I think there is a double standard to hateful and racist comments when it comes to Jews. First it takes the face of anti-Israel and anti-Zionist remarks, but that’s clearly just a mask. Because it’s antisemitism in its rawest form… It shouldn’t just be the ZOA. I think it should be the Hillels on campus that should respond [as well]. I think… basically every active Jewish group who has any relation to CUNY or to any Jewish life at CUNY should respond.”

By Wednesday afternoon, an online petition demanding that CUNY shut down its SJP chapters had obtained over 5,300 signatures.

The Algemeiner’s request for comment from CUNY’s chancellor was not answered as of press time.

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  • stevenl

    This is the result of many decades of ME studies subsidized by the fanatic Islamists of the ME with the complicity of American academia. To this we can add the fact that the Western world has shown a total lack of seriousness into trying to assist in resolving the IL-Pal problem.
    As a matter of fact, IL accepted de-facto the TSS 68 year AGO and the Western powers response was to create the UNRWA! From there, the West has been engaged in an overt and covert war of attrition against Israel while giving systematically a pass to the Islamic barbarians.
    The question the WEST needs to answer is: why this obsession with the creation of one more fanatically genocidal state whose FIRST GOAL is the DESTRUCTION of Israel (2nd Holocaust)?
    Israel cannot expect antisemites to solve the conflict and should act accordingly and annex J & S.
    Let the Western world destroy the only democracy in the ME!

  • Stewart Schwartz

    We BUILT those schools, for G-d’s sake!

  • nat cheiman

    There was a fellow many many years ago in America. His name was machine gun Kelly. These anus apertures need to meet someone like him.

  • Chaim Pinczewski

    At 67 and an alumni of Baruch College I am ashamed to be associated with an institution that allows such behaviour to go unchecked

    H Pinczewski

  • Concerned CUNY Student

    CUNY Baruch has now scheduled their Graduation ceremony to fall on a Friday night. Sign this petition to have the time changed so Jewish students can attend!

  • corey NY

    Where are the Jewish students? They outnumber these goons 4:1 but they are apathetic, silent. Worst of all are the self hating Jews that join SJP.


  • leonard feinman

    It is most unfortunate that the basic idea of education on a university level is dictated by students. They should have a say in what concerns them, but in no way should they be allowed to freefall through an education. The curriculum should be strict and outside groups should be moderated at the director level. At no time should hate be allowed in any narrative sponsored by the college. Political advocacy groups must be closely scrutinized.

  • Zg

    I hope that this letter will start the ball rolling. We are not In the 30’s Nazi Germany but in New York,2016. All Jews should unite on this issue.

  • There is no distinction between Anti-Zionism and Anti-Semitism. Both terms delegitimize Israel and incite Jew-hatred.

  • Debra Michels

    This article is so moving – can’t someone help the administrations of the various colleges where SJP operates to teach SJP the difference between free speech and how democracy operates, and hate speech and rather dictatorial ways of operating?

    • Mickey Oberman

      The solution is to get rid of those despicable administrations that permit these atrocities.

      Any graduates of these institutions who have in the past given them donations should immediately stop giving.

    • Ephraim

      They know the difference. What they are doing is deliberate, and educating them will not make a difference. However, if faced with sanctions, MAYBE they will change tactics. More likely they will call on the antisemitic press to publicize their ‘plight’ and, as the media is almost 100% antisemitic, they will oblige.

    • Barbara Shabo

      There’s such a thing as willful ignorance. Our biggest threat is from so called “assimilated Jews” who identify with any and all oppressed groups but abandon their own people.
      Maybe they ought to realize that Jewish lives matter, too.
      The Jews who support BDS would have turned fellow Jews in to the Nazis. One word, contemptible.

  • Cuny needs to take on board this evil sickness called anti-Semitism for once and for all,with the clear need to understand that ethical morality at such 3rd. level education institutes cannot be founded on the whims of Academic luminaries who might have begun to think that their authority is divine.explaining why its not good policy to put such people on pedestals, When some of them would be better under it. Shalom.

  • elena stevens

    Please act on it because not too long ago it was how the Nazi climb to power started. Exactly the same way. The new Nazis are here, at our US colleges, under the name of SJP and BDS.

    • Ephraim


  • Beverly Shichtman

    Please have CUNY investigate this hate group. ZOA is not hateful and therefore deserves your support. Please have this terrible group thrown off your campus’ and speak vocally of your distaste for their actions.

  • Harry

    By “death penalty” I meant figuratively, I do not believe in a death penalty for anyone and never had. I meant ‘death penalty’ in “gangster raps speak” that is destruction.