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NY State Senator Declares Support for Dozens of Jewish Faculty Resigning From CUNY Union

avatar by Dion J. Pierre

The City University of New York. Photo: Flickr / Bonnie Natko

On Monday, New York State Senator Anna Kaplan (D-North Hills) issued a statement of support for the group of at least 50 Jewish professors who have resigned from the City University of New York faculty union after its executive committee passed a resolution that labeled Israel an “apartheid” and “settler colonial” enterprise.

Kaplan argued the CUNY faculty union’s resolution was “blatantly antisemitic” and showed that the body was “openly hostile” to Jewish members.

“I stand with the CUNY professors who have had enough, and who see no choice but to disassociate themselves from an organization that has made it impossible for them to feel welcome and supported,” she said.

The June 10 resolution, passed by the public university system’s Professional Staff Congress union (PSC), accused Israel of ethnic cleansing, apartheid, and crimes against humanity. It also called for the end of US foreign aid to Israel, and for the union to “facilitate discussions at the chapter level” to weigh support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

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On Sunday, the PSC told the New York Post that at least 50 union members have resigned or formally indicated that they would do so. PSC President James Davis told the paper that it was in active dialogue with members concerned about the Israel statement, but also alleged that an outside “pressure campaign” was exploiting the issue to peel faculty away from the union.

CUNY, which comprises 25 colleges, is the largest urban public university in the country.

“CUNY is supposed to be an educational community for all people, from all walks of life, to lift up themselves through education” Kaplan continued on Monday. “It’s time for CUNY-PSC to engage the community to better understand the harm they have caused, so they can move forward in a way that repairs the damage, and restores CUNY as a beacon for all.”

President of the World Jewish Congress Ronald S. Lauder also backed Jewish CUNY faculty who resigned from the union, declaring, “We have your backs.”

“These educators are speaking with one voice against the troubling rise of institutionalized antisemitism in American academia, which is being emboldened by the far left and the far right and is accompanied by rising support for formerly fringe movements, such as BDS,” he said Monday. “Hate is hate, and the position taken by CUNY’s professional union is hateful and must be condemned.”

Steven Greenbaum, a professor of physics at Hunter College, submitted his resignation letter to the union on June 26, and later told The Algemeiner that it had fed a “climate of intimidation” for Jewish members of the campus community.

“I tend to be apolitical — I’m a scientist — but [the resignation] is symbolic, and there’s enough of us resigning that it’s going to have real financial consequences for the union,” he said. “I’m willing to stick my neck out. This is as strong a cause as I’ll ever be involved in.”

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