Jewish students at four City University of New York campuses are being harassed and intimidated by a pro-Palestinian student group, and the university isn’t doing enough to protect them, according to a leading advocacy group.
The Zionist Organization of America sent a 14-page letter to CUNY’s chancellor and board of trustees claiming members of Students for Justice In Palestine (SJP) have engaged in “hateful, anti-Semitic and violence-inciting conduct.”
ZOA urged the university to investigate the group with an eye to banning it from all 23 university campuses.
“Please do not wait until the situation escalates further and someone gets hurt,” wrote ZOA President Morton Klein. “This group does not deserve a place on any CUNY campus until it can demonstrate that it will respect and abide by the rules and standards that apply to everyone else.”
Among the incidents cited by the group:
At John Jay College, which specializes in criminal justice, Jewish students have been the target of so many slurs that at lease three have transferred. One John Jay administrator responded to a Jewish student’s concerns by saying, “What are these white kids complaining about?”
On Nov. 12 at Hunter College, during a demonstration for free tuition, Jewish students were denounced as “racist sons of bitches,” “fascists” and “Nazis” and were greeted with comments such as “Jews out of CUNY.” One student tweeted at the time, “Full-blown anti-Semitism allowed at my college . . . I witnessed this and froze in fear.”
At Brooklyn College, the pro-Palestinian group disrupted a faculty meeting last week and called a professor wearing a yarmulka a “Zionist pig.” Brooklyn College slammed the “hateful” comments and the disruption.
At The College of Staten Island, a pro-Palestinian demonstrator told a Jewish student last November, “I don’t hug murderers.” Swastikas also defaced the college’s desks and walls.
“Such bigotry would never be tolerated by CUNY if it were being directed against another ethnic, racial or other targeted group,” Klein wrote. “CUNY should not be tolerating it when the bigotry is directed against Jews.”
A CUNY official said it just received ZOA’s letter on Tuesday and that a detailed response would be issued after consulting with campus officials.
CUNY also noted that the university’s college presidents had issued statements condemning some of the incidents of bigotry mentioned in the ZOA letter.
A rep from SJP referred to statements on its website claiming it was falsely accused of anti-Semitism while demanding that CUNY divest from Israeli companies “that profit from the occupation of Palestine” during last November’s Million Student March.
“We categorically refute all claims of racism at the Million Student March and various chapters of Students for Justice in Palestine. NYC SJP opposes anti-Semitism and all forms of racism,” the group said.
Meanwhile, Sarah Schulman, the group’s faculty adviser at the College of Staten Island, dismissed as “ridiculous” claims of ant-Semitism there.
“I would have been called by the administration if there was a complaint,” she said. “There’s never been an issue.”