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September 15, 2016 1:13 pm

New York Lawmaker: CUNY Must Stop Using Tax Dollars to Fund Anti-Israel, Antisemitic Campus Groups

avatar by Lea Speyer

New York State Senator Jack Martins. Photo: New York State Senate.

New York State Senator Jack Martins. Photo: New York State Senate.

The City University of New York (CUNY) must stop using tax dollars to fund anti-Israel and antisemitic student groups, a local legislator wrote on Wednesday.

Scoffing at the recently released results of a CUNY investigation into allegations of pervasive antisemitism on its campuses, State Senator Jack Martins (R-7th District) expressed his wrath in an op-ed in the New York Post.

Martins argued that though anti-Israel groups are guaranteed free speech “no matter how objectionable others may find [their] message,” they are not guaranteed “the right to receive taxpayer money to support or further that message.”

At the heart of the CUNY investigation was anti-Israel group Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), a major proponent of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement and “intifada” against Israel.

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According to the CUNY report, intifada “has become a call for violence in a region that has already experienced far too much violence.”

Martins said that “SJP is not simply a local university club; it’s a national organization” with ties to a major Chicago-based outsider group — American Muslims for Palestinewhich is a “leading driver of the boycott campaign” and has ties to Hamas. 

“Despite all of this, CUNY continues subsidizing them with our tax dollars,” Martins wrote. “And that’s where it can make a difference. CUNY can’t tell people what they’re allowed to say, but it can absolutely tell an organization how to conduct itself if it wants to receive government funding.”

Along the same lines, he wrote, CUNY can allow anti-Israel students to exercise their first amendment rights, but does not need to issue its “blessing [of] SJP’s annual ‘Israel-Apartheid Week’…where members portray Israel Defense Forces soldiers as goose-stepping Nazis. Nor does CUNY need to allow ‘die-ins,’ where SJP supporters lay on fake bloody sheets and ask Jews if they can ‘wipe their butt’ with the Israeli flag.”

The New York state senator called on CUNY administrators to “immediately set a policy that student groups who promote or incite violence, intimidation or harassment against Jews or anyone else will lose their funding, period.”

“Actions speak louder than words,” he continued. “Simply saying you condemn something is no substitute for taking action to stop it. CUNY has resisted real action for far too long. It must take this step. Now.”

CUNY’s investigation comes six months after a Zionist Organization of America letter to its chancellor, James Milliken, claimed that his school’s SJP chapters are responsible for creating “a hostile campus environment” for Jewish students.

As reported by The Algemeiner, officials from major Jewish and campus watchdog groups slammed the findings of the report, saying it will encourage further Jew-hatred.

Despite having found repeated cases of antisemitism and antisemitic anti-Zionism at CUNY, investigators concluded, “Much of what we have reported is protected speech” and behavior. And, though investigators confirmed antisemitic cases in which “Zionist” and “Jew” were used interchangeably during campus protests, they warned that those who call for a boycott of Israel “should not be tarred as antisemitic.”

CUNY, as a public university, “is limited in the ways it can respond to hate speech,” the report said, adding that administrators “must continue” to speak out against such rhetoric. “The picture that has emerged is not one of unchecked antisemitism, far from it,” investigators wrote. “But it is hardly perfect.”

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