AMCHA’S Responses to Antisemitic Activity at Syracuse University
2. Protesters disrupted an event with Ambassador Dani Dayan co-sponsored by Hillel.
- INCIDENT: More than 20 student protesters and outside agitators from anti-Zionist groups such as Code Pink carried out the planned disruption of a speaking event with Ambassador Dani Dayan, Consul General of Israel in New York, that was sponsored by several university departments and the local Hillel. The protestors shouted loudly for nearly 30 minutes just outside the event in order to drown out the speaker, and they held signs declaring Zionism to be “racism” and “White Supremacy” and promoting the boycott of Israel. Two activists who deceptively came into the event hall as audience members disrupted the talk twice with shouting and the unfurling of anti-Zionist banners. One faculty member who attended the event called the protest “an effort to shut down speech and commandeer the campus.”
- 5/15/18 – AMCHA’S RESPONSE: AMCHA Initiative coordinated a coalition letter of 62 groups to Chancellor Syverud that stated, “The anti-Zionist sentiment that lies at the heart of this type of exclusionary behavior grows out of an ideology whose primary goal on campus is the suppression of any and all pro-Israel expression. On many college campuses, anti-Zionist sentiment translates into actions that target Jewish and pro-Israel students for harm, including the shutting down or disrupting of Israel-related events; the vilification and harassment of Jewish students in order to delegitimize their Zionist perspective or cause them to be too afraid or uncomfortable to express it; and the malevolent manipulation of student government procedure in order to eliminate pro-Israel voices.” The groups offered suggestions for steps the administration can take to “ensure that ALL students at Syracuse University– including students who identify as Zionists — are free to express their opinions, beliefs and identities and to fully participate in campus life, now and in the future.”
- 5/16/18 – UNIVERSITY’S RESPONSE: The office of the Chancellor responded with a letter confirming “the University’s commitment to providing an environment for our students, faculty, staff, and visitors that is free from discrimination and harassment.” The letter did not address the recommendations the 62 groups provided in their letter.
- 5/18/18 – AMCHA’S RESPONSE: AMCHA Initiative coordinated a coalition letter response of the 62 groups to Chancellor Syverud that stated, “Please understand that while your university’s anti-harassment and non-discrimination policies provide essential protection from behaviors that impede expression and full participation in university life, they only afford such protection to students who fall into certain categories — race, color, creed, religion, sex, gender, etc. — leaving other students unprotected in the face of the exact same intolerant, harassing behaviors, and vulnerable to the effects of those same behaviors. We have found that without protection from harassment, free speech rights are curtailed. Harassment and free speech are intrinsically linked. Students who fear they will not be protected from harassing behaviors do not feel free to express their beliefs and opinions in the classroom, in the dorm or in the quad.”
1. Syracuse University was mentioned in AMCHA’s report, “The Impact of Academic Boycotters of Israel on U.S. Campuses.”
- 10/14/17 – INCIDENT: Syracuse University was listed in Table 4, “Middle East, Ethnic, and Gender Studies Departments and Programs that Sponsored the Most Events with One or More BDS-Supporting Speakers in 2015 and 2016” of AMCHA’s new study, “The Impact of Academic Boycotters of Israel on U.S. Campuses.”
- 11/16/17 – AMCHA’S RESPONSE: AMCHA wrote a letter to Chancellor Syverud that shared, “new research that demonstrates the extent to which the on-campus implementation and advocacy of an academic boycott of Israel directly harm American students and faculty at U.S. universities.” The letter went on to detail how AMCHA’s study “found that pro-BDS faculty were between five and twelve times more likely to sponsor events with BDS-supporting speakers, and schools that hosted these events were twice as likely to have acts of anti-Jewish hostility.”