Doctoral graduate praises BDS at NYU convocation ceremony

NYU President Andrew Hamilton said that Steven William Thrasher had omitted his comments about BDS in the version of the speech he had submitted. "NYU rejects academic boycotts of Israel," he added.

May 24, 2019 03:44
2 minute read.

New York University banner. (photo credit: NYU PHOTO BUREAU)


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A doctoral graduate expressed support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement at the Doctoral Convocation Ceremony of the New York University Graduate School of Arts & Science on Monday.

"I am so proud, so proud of NYU's chapters of Students for Justice in Palestine and of Jewish Voice for Peace, and of GSOC, and of the NYU student government, and of my colleagues in the Department of Social and Cultural Analysis for supporting the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement against the apartheid state government in Israel — because this is what we are called to do, this is our NYU legacy," said newly minted doctor Steven William Thrasher.

"We must stand together to vanquish racism and Islamophobia and antisemitism and injustice and attacks on women and attacks on abortion rights in Tel Aviv, and Shanghai, and Abu Dhabi, New York City, Atlanta, Washington, Los Angeles, San Francisco and everywhere in the world," he added.

A journalist, Thrasher has written for, among others, the Guardian, the New York Times and Buzzfeed. He will join the faculty of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern next month.

In his remarks, he also referred to US President Donald Trump as "that fascist in the White House that would not allow 56 different countries to cross borders and be together in a setting like this."

Commenting on the episode, NYU President Andrew Hamilton said in a statement Thursday that Thrasher had omitted his comments about BDS in the version of the speech he had submitted to the school for review before the ceremony.

"We are sorry that the audience had to experience these inappropriate remarks," he said. "A graduation should be a shared, inclusive event; the speaker's words -- one-sided and tendentious -- indefensibly made some in the audience feel unwelcome and excluded.

"Let me use this occasion to reaffirm the University's position -- NYU rejects academic boycotts of Israel, rejects calls to close its Tel Aviv campus, and denounces efforts to ostracize or exclude those in the University community based on their location in Israel, their Israeli origin, or their political feelings for Israel," Hamilton added.

Sharp criticism over the matter was expressed by the National Council of Young Israel, which includes around 135 branch synagogues throughout the United States, Canada and Israel.

"Stephen Thrasher's shameless plug of the anti-Semitic BDS movement from the lectern at NYU's doctoral convocation ceremony is yet another black eye for the university and is a stark reminder of the anti-Israel sentiment that is festering on its campus," NCYI President Farley Weiss said in a statement.

"By referring to the democratically elected government of Israel as an 'apartheid state government' and openly promoting an anti-Semitic effort, Stephen Thrasher regrettably transformed an NYU-sanctioned event into an appalling and highly offensive display of blatant bigotry," he added.

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