ZOA Op-Ed on CUNY Anti-Semitism and SJP
Blogs Op-Ed
April 1, 2016

I’d like to publicly thank our New York State senator, Jack Martins, for his important role in protecting Jewish and other students from harassment, intimidation and violence perpetrated by the anti-Israel, anti-Semitic, anti-American hate group “Students for Justice in Palestine,” on City University of New York campuses. 

Many students who live in our local community attend CUNY schools. Senator Martins courageously called for SJP to be suspended.

On March 18, 2016, in a segment entitled “Anti-Semitism on Campus,” the Stuart Varney Fox business television show discussed with Senator Martins the multiple incidents of SJP’s harassment and intimidation of students and faculty at CUNY and even physical violence.  (The replay is at: http://video.foxbusiness.com/v/4807158799001/state-sen-martins-no-place-in-colleges-for-people-who-want-hate/?#sp=show-clips.)

After discussing these events, Senator Martin explained: “We have a responsibility to protect our students.  There’s no place for hate on campus.” 

Stuart Varney aptly commented on the double standard that is often applied:  “It seems that if it was any other small minority group on a university, they would be protected from this kind of behavior.  But not Jews.  I just don’t get that.”

Senator Martins agreed, saying: “It just doesn’t make sense.  And again, these [the Jewish students] are people who just want to attend school, and there’s this group [SJP]; It [SJP] is entirely constituted by people who just want to harass and attack Jews.   So how would we allow that?”

The full name is “Students for Justice for Palestine” or SJP.  The name is misleading – because SJP’s goal is the destruction of Israel and attacks on Jews, not “justice.”  

Stuart Varney asked:  “Justice for Palestine?  That’s the name of the group?” 

[Note: The full name is “Students for Justice for Palestine” or SJP.  The name is misleading – because SJP’s goal is the destruction of Israel and attacks on Jews, not “justice.”  

Moreover, SJP reportedly includes paid professional non-students or one-course-per-semester “students” whose real job is harassing Jews and defaming Israel.]

Senator Martins responded: “Justice for Palestine.  They are tax-payer funded.  They are part of the student organization at CUNY.  And all we’ve asked is suspend the group [SJP].  We know there have been incidences.  Suspend the group.  You can do your investigation over time.  But there is no place, and no legitimate place, in colleges and universities in New York State or anywhere else, for people who want hate.”

Senator Martins also noted:  “We are absolutely on strong ground.  We live in a world where ‘political correctness’ has trumped common sense.  And we’re going to turn the tables on this one.”

Indeed, in late February, the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) sent a detailed 14-page to the CUNY chancellor and trustees, documenting numerous extreme incidents of Jew hatred at four CUNY colleges, and requesting remedial steps.  

These incidents include SJP’s calls for “intifada” — which means the murder of innocent Jews, and calls to expel Jews from CUNY.   SJP members and supporters chanted and shouted at Jewish students:  “Zionists go home!”; “Zionists out of CUNY!”; “Jews out of CUNY!”; “Jews are racist sons of bitches!”; “I hope someone gets y’all!”; “When we take control of CUNY, we are gonna kick you out and make sure you don’t graduate!”; “Go home!”; “Get out of the Middle East!”; “Get out of America!”; “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” – meaning that all of Israel will be destroyed and all Jews will be murdered, and Israel will be replaced by a Palestinian Arab state.  Some of this is on videotape.

A copy of ZOA’s letter is at: https://zoa.org/2016/02/10315402-letter-to-cuny-chancellor-and-board-of-trustees-jew-haters-spread-fear-at-cuny-colleges/   ZOA’s letter is eye-opening reading, and has been cited in numerous press articles about the hatred on CUNY campuses.

The state Senate also passed a resolution to cut CUNY funding to, in part, send a message to CUNY (and universities around the country) that it is time to stop anti-Semitism on college campuses.  (There were also reportedly financial efficiency issues involved.)  Hopefully, this will spur CUNY to finally take appropriate action, so that no cuts related to the anti-Semitism issue will be necessary. 

ZOA President Morton Klein, stated: “This case will send a message to legislators around the country, to force public universities that are ignoring the real fears of Jewish students and staff to finally take appropriate and serious actions. . . “Universities always want to ‘study’ the problem of anti-Semitism instead of acting immediately against it.”  

When it comes to other incidents of racism and bias, universities act very differently. “Administrators promptly and rightly condemn the acts themselves and their perpetrators, who are immediately disciplined. But here, when presented with a long list of anti-Semitic incidents dating back several years with clear and consistent perpetrators, all they do is order an investigation — even though they already know all the facts.”

In addition to thanking Senator Martins for his courage and responsiveness, I’d like to thank Great Neck resident and community activist Jeff Wiesenfeld, who formerly served as a CUNY trustee, for his outspokenness on this issue.  

In November, after CUNY failed to condemn an anti-Semitic rally at CUNY’s Hunter College, Mr. Wiesenfeld told the press: “Stakeholders in the system should know that when anti-Semitism goes unanswered by faculty, students and administration — in contrast to their prompt response to other hatreds — that the university is doing a grave disservice in public reputation and in the good will of alumni and donors. SJP [Students for Justice in Palestine] is an anti-Jewish, bullying hate group, plain and simple. Their bigotry merits an appropriate response.” 


Elizabeth (Liz) Berney, Esq. 

Great Neck

Berney is the Zionist Organization of America Director of Special Projects and Long Island-Queens executive director

This article was published by Island Now and may be found here.

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