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May 19, 2022 11:25 am

CUNY Law Faculty Endorse Israel Boycott Resolution


avatar by Dion J. Pierre

CUNY School of Law in New York City. Photo: Evulaj90 / WikimediaCommons.

The faculty of the City University of New York (CUNY) School of Law have endorsed a student government resolution that backs the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel, a school spokesperson told The Algemeiner on Wednesday.

The December 2021 resolution said the school’s work with Israeli academic institutions made it “complicit” in alleged war crimes committed by Israel, and condemned Hillel and other student organizations at CUNY for their support of the Jewish state.

At the time, the original measure was denounced by Jewish groups and rejected by CUNY Chancellor Matos Rodríguez, who said its call for an academic boycott was “contrary to a university’s core mission to expose students personally and academically to a world that can be vastly different to their own, particularly through international exchange programs.”

The CUNY Law spokesperson said the faculty endorsement took place on May 12, and did not disclose further details of the vote.

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Sponsored by CUNY Law Students for Justice in Palestine and CUNY Law Jewish Law Student Association, the resolution was originally endorsed by more than 20 other student organizations. It said that exchange programs between CUNY and Israeli institutions like Haifa University and Tel Aviv University were all “a form of propaganda” that “normalize settler colonial and apartheid rule.”

It also called for the school to “cut all ties with organizations that repress Palestinian organizing,” and criticized student groups including Hillel, Bulldogs for Israel, and Students Supporting Israel at City College of New York.

Miriam Elman, executive director of the Academic Engagement Network, called news of the faculty endorsement “deeply disheartening.”

“In endorsing the [Law Student Government Association] petition, the CUNY Law faculty have essentially told pro-Palestinian students that it’s perfectly fine to isolate, marginalize, and demoralize Jewish students who support Israel,” Elman told The Algemeiner.

“Not only would this harm Israeli academics, including Palestinian students and scholars, but it would also deprive educational opportunities for CUNY students at some of the world’s best universities,” she added. “It’s disgraceful that in their zeal to demonize and delegitimize Israel, they are willing to sacrifice their professional responsibilities to their own students.”

Ilya Bratman, Executive Director of Hillel at CUNY’s Baruch College, also denounced the decision, telling The Algemeiner, “it is a travesty that faculty of a college in NYC would make such a determination.”

On Friday, the CUNY Law Jewish Law Students Association praised the faculty endorsement as a  “historic” development. The vote was also touted at Friday’ law school’s commencement ceremony by student speaker Nerdeen Kiswani — founder of the activist group Within Our Lifetime, which supports “the right of Palestinians as colonized people to resist the zionist occupation by any means necessary.”

Students and Faculty for Equality at CUNY — a group opposing “exclusion and discrimination” against Jews and Zionists on campus — condemned her selection as student commencement speaker, saying that “Kiswani has called for death to Zionists; for Israel’s total destruction; for Zionists out of CUNY; and has spread incitement to violence as chair of Within our Lifetime.”

The office of the CUNY Chancellor did not immediately respond to an Algemeiner request for comment.

This article has been updated.

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