CUNY Graduate Center.
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
NEW YORK - The City University of New York (CUNY) will take steps to review recent allegations of anti-Semitism on campus at four of its colleges over the past months and will establish a task force composed of members of the administration, faculty and students in order to monitor these incidents.
The move comes after the Zionist Organization of America had issued a formal letter to CUNY Chancellor James B. Milliken last week, urging him to act against the harassment of Jewish students at Hunter College, John Jay College, Brooklyn College and the College of Staten Island, where students reported being attacked by members of the pro-Palestinian group “Students for Justice in Palestine.”
According to ZOA several incidents have been recorded on each campus. Among them: a rally for free public college tuition and the cancellation of all student debt organized by SJP at Hunter College this November turned into a demonstration attacking Israel, Zionists and Jews.
Just last week a group of 10 students at Brooklyn College interrupted a meeting of the faculty council calling for “Zionists off campus.” At The College of Staten Island, swastikas defaced desks and walls and at John Jay College Jewish students have reported being afraid to come to school and some have transferred out.
“SJP has created a hostile campus environment for many Jewish students, causing them to feel harassed, threatened, and even physically unsafe, in violation of the law,” ZOA National President Morton Klein wrote in his letter to the CUNY Chancellor.
“Such bigotry would never be tolerated by CUNY if it were being directed against another ethnic, racial or other targeted group. CUNY should not be tolerating it when the bigotry is directed against Jews.”
In response to the letter and to an article about the letter published about it in the New York Post, the city-wide Students for Justice in Palestine wrote on its website: “This smear article comes as part of a larger offensive by the Zionist movement, both across campuses and worldwide, in the face of the victories of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, and the further popularization of the Palestinian cause.”
According to the group “there is a long history of repression towards SJPs all around CUNY campuses.”
The Anti-Defamation League, which published a report on anti-Israel activity on U.S. college campuses back in November, commended CUNY for “taking the allegations seriously.”
“We are pleased to hear that CUNY has appointed outside counsel to review the troubling allegations of anti-Semitism that have taken place across some of its campuses,” ADL New York Regional Director Evan R. Bernstein said. “Over the past few years, students have expressed to us first hand a growing concern over a climate of anti-Jewish animus on some of their campuses. We are also troubled by the manifestation of anti-Israel bias that has left some Jewish students feeling singled out.”
“We eagerly await the results and stand ready to work with the CUNY system to create an environment that is inclusive and fosters respect for all,” Bernstein added. The New York Post
reported earlier this week that as a response to the allegations and the letter sent by ZOA, the New York City Council’s Jewish Caucus is drafting legislation to require the City University of New York to report all bias incidents on its campuses to the Council. The legislation to expected to be submitted within a month.