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March 11, 2016 4:54 am

Why Does CUNY Allow Anti-Jewish Violence and Incitement on Its Campuses?

avatar by Susan B. Tuchman, Zach Stern and Morton A. Klein

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An anti-Zionist rally at CUNY's Hunter College. Photo: StandWithUs/Screenshot.

An anti-Zionist rally at CUNY’s Hunter College. Photo: StandWithUs/Screenshot.

Campus antisemitism is a growing national problem, and, frighteningly, it has infected the City University of New York (CUNY) — historically a haven for Jews and other minorities seeking an excellent, affordable college education. We often work closely with students and others at CUNY, and we implore the leadership there to finally fix the problem before the verbal violence escalates into physical violence.

At recent CUNY rallies, a group that calls itself “Students for Justice in Palestine” (SJP) condemned “the Zionist administration” at CUNY for hosting Birthright Israel programs and study-abroad programs in “occupied Palestine” [i.e., Israel]. SJP demonstrators screamed insults at Jewish students, calling them “racists,” “white supremacists,” “Nazis” and “supporters of genocide.” They chanted, “There is only one solution:  Intifada revolution!” — calling for murder and violence against Jews. They shouted invectives like “Jews out of CUNY” and “Jews are racist sons of bitches!” One Jewish student was screamed at by SJP members to “get the f –-k out of my country!” Another heard someone yell, “We should drag the Zionists down the street!” “Zionists,” of course, means Jews.

Even CUNY staff were aghast. One staff member described one of the rallies as “absolutely horrifying,” stating, “I have never witnessed anything like this before.”

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Recently, the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) sent a 14-page letter to CUNY’s Chancellor, James Milliken, the Board of Trustees and public officials, describing the horrors, anguish and outright fear that Jewish students have been enduring, largely at the hands of the SJP. As a result of this group’s incitement, its promotion of vicious lies about Jews and Israel, and its resolve to isolate, ostracize and demonize Jewish students, some are now afraid to wear yarmulkes, stars of David and pro-Israel shirts, afraid to walk in certain areas of their campus and afraid to take classes at times when the SJP is holding its hateful demonstrations.

As horrifying as the SJP’s actions are, just as appalling is the weak and insensitive administrative response to the Jew-hatred and intimidation of Jewish students. Other than to issue statements defending SJP’s freedom of speech and encouraging respect for the rights of others, the leadership has never publicly condemned the SJP for promoting hatred, bigotry and even violence against Jews; nor has it held the SJP accountable under CUNY’s own rules and policies.

CUNY’s rules and policies demand that free speech be exercised without disrespecting the members of CUNY’s diverse community. They prohibit the kind of conduct that the SJP routinely engages in — harassment and intimidation, interfering with free speech rights and inciting physical violence. Yet CUNY has never so much as suggested that the SJP should be removed as a registered student group — which provides it with funding and other benefits — even though the SJP violates the rules that every other student group is required to abide by.

Based on ZOA’s work on campuses nationally, we know that promoting vicious and hateful lies against Jews and the Jewish state can escalate to actual physical violence. We saw that at the University of California (UC), Irvine a few years ago, a campus that was described by a Jewish student leader as “a hotbed for anti-Israel and antisemitic activism.” Signs, speeches, and programs regularly demonized Jews, “Zionists” and Israel, led to physical threats and violence against Jewish students. One student wearing a shirt that read, “Everybody loves a Jewish boy,” had a rock thrown at him, barely missing his head.

Likewise, at a recent SJP anti-Israel rally at UC Berkeley, an SJP leader took the microphone and began chanting, “Intifada, Intifada, we support the Intifada!” riling up the crowd and encouraging them to join in. Within minutes, a Jewish student holding a pro-Israel sign was physically assaulted. In 2010, during the SJP’s “Israeli Apartheid Week,” a Jewish student was rammed from behind with a loaded shopping cart by an SJP leader. The Jewish student, who required medical attention, had simply been holding a sign that read, “Israel Wants Peace.”

G-d forbid, it could get worse.

As the distinguished historian Paul Johnson warned in his book, A History of the Jews: “One of the principal lessons of Jewish history has been that repeated verbal slanders are sooner or later followed by violent physical deeds.  Time and again over the centuries, anti-Semitic writings created their own fearful momentum which climaxed in an effusion of Jewish blood.”

When will CUNY and other university leaders finally learn this lesson? Will they wait until there is more serious physical violence? In the exercise of moral leadership as educators, it’s time for CUNY to take the strong steps it would and should surely take if blacks, Muslims,or gays were being targeted. They must publicly condemn the SJP, the perpetrators of the antisemitism, by name, so that the SJP will be sent the message that it is a disgrace to CUNY and society’s values. And, since the SJP refuses to comply with the rules and policies that apply to every student group, it must be thrown off every CUNY campus.

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  • norma wolens

    Seems to me too many administrators of United States educational institutions, who close their eyes to the ignorant, bullying, disgraceful behavior of the Students for Justice in Palestine are like hard boiled eggs…..yellow inside. Do we send our American boys all over the world to fight for basic freedoms, supported by a search for truth and intelligent, humane discourse and then put up with anti-Americans who violate every rule of basic human rights and get away with it. Why?

    • norma wolens

      The fact that my response is awaiting moderation indicate how far ‘politically correct’ has permeated our university system to our detriment.

  • Celia Weinberger

    We believe in the Torah….Do not do anything that is hateful to someone else. Our

    chant should be—Recognize us…..Stop Killing us…..We will give you the two state

    solution……if you Recognize us…and promise to stop killing us. Your fault…your

    fault….We do not want to dominate you……we offered…you refused….your fault…your fault.

  • Francis Figliola

    This has become a “Liberal” bent, rendering the tag “Liberal” a misnomer!

  • marc sloane

    One of the reasons this happened is that the so called “Jewish
    leadership” ignored this problem for a long time. They are late coming to to the table. Mr. Klein excluded.
    The other is the limitless indulgence that the faculties and administrations have shown for outright anti-Semitism. Faculties often participate. Those who intimidate Jewish students should face expulsion.

    All political and financial pressure possible should be used to make sure that administrations of these schools make sure that anti-Semitism will not be tolerated. Given the political leanings of faculties and administrations this may be one big job. Also, any avenues of legal action must be explored…
    perhaps we need an American version of Shurat Ha’Din.

    It’s worth noting that Jewish students at CUNY may be less affluent that students at more prestigious schools. Most of Jewish leadership cares more about social justice for other
    groups than social Jewish for Jews.

  • stevenl

    CUNY is full of antisemites!
    Where is De Blasio? Where is Cuomo?

  • The administration is antisemitic. They will do nothing because they applaud Jew killing just like every Muslim does.

  • Larry Robins

    why has no one assaulted these vermin? these people need to be hit on the head with a hammer. I assure you, this will be a revelation of truth.

  • Carl

    Are university administrators afraid to stand up to these young terrorist thugs for fear of personal attacks? Are the same terrorist threats that have proven effective against so many European leaders finding their way to American college campuses? This must be stopped!

  • enufizenuf

    The solution to this problem is very easy. The mob should be hired to shut down the SJP at CUNY permanently.

  • Peter W. Hirsch

    By all means, write letters to the Administration, the Mayor, the Governor, but while such spineless, gutless officials dither and wring their hands fearful that they may offend the Arab/Moslem community, Jewish organizations should be helping Jewish students organize and confront these Jew haters in substantial numbers whenever and wherever they hold their rallies. They must not be allowed to intimidate individual or small groups of Jewish students. In numbers there is strength. Fight back, give them a dose of their own medicine, and let them know that they are no match for Jews in the U.S. any more than their Palestinian brothers are a match for our Israeli brothers. Never Again!

  • duPont

    The students responsible for this should be expelled. If the staff at CUNY won’t do it, the State of New York should be sued to get it done. IT is outrageous that a group of Arab Muslims can foist their demented hatred upon an entire university and let it be allowed by CUNY. Wake up CUNY. Do your job- expel students who create havoc on your campus and who threaten and injure your Jewish students. CUNY should be held accountable until all of those students are out of there and deported to their home country.

  • Lia

    I cannot be the only person in the world who saw that MU has an estimated shortfall of $10M for the next academic year, and far fewer students than usual. CUNY’s going the exact right way about it to equal MU’s problem.

  • Dallas Al

    AS a grad of one the City Universities I have notified the Administration that if they don’t curb these animals I am closing the checkbook. CUNY has a distinguished and some wealthy alumni who should close their checkbooks, as well. New York should also prosecute these animals for at the very least disorderly conduct and in some cases felony assault.

  • HaroldT

    Why is the university not providing security ?

  • Ralph Levitt

    Boo hoo.
    Stop the whining and letter writing.
    The Jewish students need to go nose to nose with the Jew-
    baiters and, if necessary, brawl with them.
    CUNY will tolerate Jew-baiting ’til the cows come home.
    What they won’t tolerate is brawling on campus. That happens, they’ll step in and stop the Jew-baiting.

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