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October 27, 2022 2:19 pm

Oral Arguments Begin in CUNY ‘Antisemitic’ Union Resolution Case

avatar by Dion J. Pierre

Illustrative Anti-Israel protest. Credit: Loredana Sangiuliano/Shutterstock.

A United States District Court on Wednesday heard arguments for a case brought by six City University of New York (CUNY) professors seeking to dissociate from its professional faculty union over “anti-Jewish and anti-Israel activity.”

Represented by the National Right to Work Foundation, the professors said that Professional Staff Congress’ (PSC-CUNY) position on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is so one-sided as to be antisemitic and that continuing to be represented by it violates their First Amendment rights.

Lawyers for the professors said a court victory would prevent the university from requiring  professors to recognize the union as their “exclusive representative without their consent.”

“My co-plaintiffs and I are being forced to accept the representation of a union that has made antisemitic statements and has created a hostile environment for CUNY’s Jewish faculty,” Jeffrey Lax told The Algemeiner on Thursday. “I look forward to our case advancing so that I can assert my right to refuse the services of a union that seems to hate Jews.”

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The suit traces back to May 2021, when, after Israel’s war with Hamas, PSC CUNY passed a resolution accusing the Jewish state of ethnic cleansing, apartheid, and crimes against humanity. Since then, over 200 members have resigned from the union, charging that it “violated its mandate by diverting union time and resources to pursue political advocacy far outside of their mission to support CUNY faculty.”

In court documents the professors, all but one of whom are Jewish, declared that they “do not want to be associated with PSC in any way.”

“Since the resolution, PSC has continued to advocate positions and take actions that plaintiffs believe to be antisemitic, anti-Jewish, and anti-Israel,” the professors said in their complaint.

The suit is part of a slew of legal challenges against CUNY over alleged antisemitism over the past year.

In July, the American Center for Law & Justice filed a civil rights complaint against various colleges within the University system, citing nearly a decade’s worth of alleged antisemitic incidents, claiming that antisemitism on campus “has become so commonplace as to be almost normalized.”

The complaint followed a June New York City Council hearing on rising antisemitism at CUNY, with city politicians pressing school officials on steps to support Jewish students and their position on efforts to boycott Israel.

Following the hearing, CUNY joined seventeen colleges and universities, including Yale University and San Francisco State University, in partnering with Hillel International’s Campus Climate Initiative (CCI), a program that helps universities better understand, recognize, and combat anti-Jewish discrimination on campus.

“We have remained vigilant and unequivocal in our intolerance of antisemitism,” said Chancellor Felix V. Matos Rodriguez. “Yet we know more needs to be done globally and locally to combat antisemitism and bigotry in all forms.”

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