New York University Update:
Antisemitism at NYU Goes Unaddressed
For the third time this spring, NYU has been in the national spotlight for antisemitism, but President Sexton oddly remains silent
Dear Friends and Supporters:
Recent antisemitic incidents at NYU have gone unaddressed by NYU President John Sexton. As such, we would like to share the latest op-ed written by AMCHA Initiative co-founders Tammi Rossman-Benjamin and Leila Beckwith and published in the New York Daily News.
Does NYU have a Jewish problem?
President John Sexton has turned a blind eye to behavior than would never be tolerated against other minority groups on campus
BY TAMMI ROSSMAN-BENJAMIN , LEILA BECKWITH
NEW YORK DAILY NEWS Sunday, June 1, 2014
For the third time this spring, NYU has been in the national spotlight for anti-Semitism.
In March, NYU Professor Lisa Duggan organized a conference at NYU whose sole purpose was to promote a boycott of Israel intended to hasten the demise of the Jewish state. The “academic” conference, sponsored by four NYU departments, featured a workshop by the president of the NYU Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), Shafeka Hashash, on how to organize students for anti-Israel activism.
As an example of the kind of activism Hashash had in mind, in late April members of her SJP group slipped mock eviction notices underneath the dorm room doors of more than 2,000 students, many of them Jewish, in two NYU dormitories. SJP claims the notices were meant “to draw attention to the reality that Palestinians confront on a regular basis.” However, for many Jewish students who woke up to find flyers vilifying and demonizing the Jewish state illicitly shoved into their dorm rooms and who reported feeling “personally attacked, “threatened,” and “unsafe,” these eviction notices served rather to draw attention to the reality that Jewish students at NYU confront on a regular basis, namely, the anti-Jewish harassment, intimidation and bullying that are the hallmark of SJP.
In fact, last month, SJP hosted an anti-Semitic “die-in” rally with pro-terror chants such as “resistance is justified when a people are occupied” and “Zionist state, tear it down.”
SJP members at NYU routinely organize events and campaigns that target Israel and its supporters for opprobrium and harm. This semester alone the organization has sponsored several events with speakers who have challenged Israel’s right to exist and promoted BDS as a means of weakening and ultimately eliminating the Jewish state, including talks by well-known anti-Zionist activists Max Blumenthal and Ali Abunimah, which Jewish students described as “explicitly anti-Semitic.” SJP further isolates and alienates pro-Israel Jewish students in its promotion of BDS campaigns among members of the NYU community, including a petition calling on TIAA-CREF to divest from Israel, signed by more than 200 faculty and staff at NYU. It’s not hard to imagine how Jewish students feel sitting in the classroom of those professors.
It’s no surprise that NYU-SJP’s events and campaigns have resulted in Jewish students feeling personally attacked, threatened, and unsafe. The organization’s very mission, with its call for “the full decolonization of all illegally held Palestinian lands (sic)” and “the right of return and repatriation for all Palestinian refugees to their original homes and properties,” is rhetoric considered anti-Semitic by the US Department of State.
NYU-SJP is not unique in its focus on harming the Jewish state and its supporters. More than 80 SJP chapters have been established on campuses across the country, each with a similar mission: engaging in activities which cause Jewish students to feel personally attacked, threatened, and unsafe.
Like its fellow chapters, NYU-SJP is a member of National SJP, which gets support and direction from American Muslims for Palestine and Al-Awda: The Palestine Right to Return Coalition, two organizations that oppose Israel’s right to exist, condone armed violence, and support terrorist groups responsible for the genocidal murder of Jews.
SJP is the only university-funded student organization at NYU whose mission targets an ethnic minority for hatred and vilification and whose activities routinely harass, intimidate and threaten members of that ethnic minority on campus. Which raises the question: Why is an organization like SJP allowed to operate with impunity at NYU?
A university spokesperson says the school is “investigating.” Where’s the public condemnation from NYU President John Sexton, where’s the SPJ suspension, where’s NYU’s demand for a public apology, where’s the assurance to Jewish students and parents that nothing like this will happen again?
After SJP at Northeastern University slipped mock eviction notices under hundreds of dorm rooms earlier this spring, the group was immediately suspended.
When SJP at UCLA, earlier this month, demanded that candidates for student government sign a statement pledging they will not go on any trip to Israel sponsored by three Jewish organizations, UCLA Chancellor Gene Block and UC President Janet Napolitano issued statements of condemnation and committed UCLA’s VP of Student Affairs to intervene.
When Vassar’s SJP chapter published a vile Nazi cartoon a few weeks ago, Vassar President Catharine Hill condemned it as “racist” and “anti-Semitic,” committed to a full university investigation and a review of SJP’s status on campus, and demanded SJP take responsibility for its actions.
The silence of NYU President Sexton makes the answer resoundingly clear: Behavior that would never be tolerated from student groups or faculty when directed against other minority groups at NYU is perfectly acceptable when it comes to the Jews.
Rossman-Benjamin and Beckwith are faculty at the University of California and co-founders of AMCHA Initiative, an organization dedicated to investigating, documenting, educating and combatting anti-Semitism at institutions of higher education in America.
Thank you for your actions to protect Jewish students.