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April 26, 2018 4:51 pm

Advocates Urge NYU to Take Action Against Student Clubs That Pledged to Boycott Pro-Israel Peers

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The NYU campus. Photo: File.

Two groups that work to support Jewish students on campus called on New York University on Tuesday to take action against 53 student clubs that pledged to boycott their Zionist peers.

In a letter sent to President Andrew Hamilton, representatives for StandWithUs and the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law denounced a recent pledge signed by cultural and political groups at NYU, which committed to boycotting “NYU’s pro-Israel clubs, Realize Israel and TorchPAC, by not co-sponsoring events with them.”

The student coalition also expressed support for the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel, and agreed to blacklist Israeli goods and off-campus Zionist organizations, from StandWithUs to the Anti-Defamation League, a Jewish civil rights group.

“There are violations of NYU policy here, and conduct foreseeably undertaken in support of this statement could potentially violate state and federal law,” StandWithUs and the Brandeis Center warned. “Moreover, it indicates a reprehensible joint effort to marginalize and stigmatize the Jewish student community at your university.”

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While commending Hamilton’s denunciation of BDS and support of academic freedom at a recent town hall — comments that were reportedly met with hisses by some student activists — the groups urged the president “to role model that call to action.”

“Reject this discriminatory statement firmly, specifically, and unequivocally to the entire campus community,” including by emphasizing that efforts to stigmatize NYU students based on their identity are unacceptable, they recommended.

An investigation should also be carried out, and disciplinary action undertaken if violations of NYU policies are found, while “training and education” on bias and intolerance should be granted to the campus community on an annual basis, the groups wrote.

Tensions between groups supportive of the BDS campaign and those who oppose it have intensified at NYU following the publication of the boycott pledge earlier this month.

More than 1,750 people signed a petition launched last week by Realize Israel and TorchPAC, while some of the pledge’s signatories claimed to “have been victims of tireless harassment” since taking their public stance.

NYU Jewish Voice for Peace and Students for Justice in Palestine — two groups that spearheaded the BDS coalition — also launched an “Israel Apartheid Week” campaign on April 15 to spread awareness of BDS, which seeks to isolate Israel until it accepts a number of Palestinian demands. These include the “right of return” of Palestinian refugees from the 1948 Arab-Israeli War and their five million descendants into Israel.

Realize Israel and TorchPAC, in turn, hosted “Israel Peace Week” — complete with a critical lecture on BDS, a service for Israel’s memorial day, and a communal Shabbat dinner.

On Friday, Realize Israel will celebrate the country’s 70th Independence Day with its annual “Rave in the Park,” which hundreds have expressed interest in attending. A coalition of 9 NYU student groups — as well as clubs from Columbia University and the City University of New York system — plan to protest the event, calling it a “disturbing public celebration” marking “70 years of Israel’s existence as a settler colonial state.”

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