July 8, 2016
Andrew Hamilton, President
New York University
70 Washington Square South
New York, NY 10012
Dear President Hamilton:
We write on behalf of the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA), the oldest and one of the largest pro-Israel organizations in the U.S., whose leaders have included U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis, Rabbi Stephen Wise, and Rabbi Dr. Abba Hillel Silver. Much of ZOA’s work is dedicated to fighting anti-Semitism in all its forms, in schools and on college campuses.
Last April, you issued a strong statement rejecting the graduate student union’s demand that New York University (NYU) close its program at Tel Aviv University, and that the graduate student union’s parent union (the United Auto Workers) divest from Israeli companies. As you appropriately noted, the demand was “contrary to our core principles.”
We thank you for showing strong moral leadership and urge you to speak out again against actions that are contrary to NYU’s core principles: Yesterday, on its Facebook page, NYU’s Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) chapter posted, in relevant part:
In the past 48 hours another two black men have been lynched by the police. The total number of black people lynched by cops in 2016 now totals 136. We must remember that many US police departments train with the #IsraeliDefenceForces [sic]. The same forces behind the genocide of black people in america are behind the genocide of palestinians. . . .
A copy of the SJP’s Facebook post is enclosed.
The SJP, an anti-Semitic hate group with a history of harassing and intimidating Jewish students at NYU and on other campuses, is publicly promoting the absurd anti-Semitic lie that Israel is responsible for racism against African Americans in the U.S. and, outrageously, that Israel is responsible for the so-called “genocide of black people in America.” Blaming the one Jewish state in the world for the oppression of African Americans – a problem that existed long before the State of Israel was established in 1948 – is anti-Semitism, according to U.S. government standards. (See http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/156684.pdf.)
All of us should be sickened by the SJP’s despicable tactics, not only lying about Israel’s actions toward the Palestinian Arabs, but also nefariously using Israel as the scapegoat for problems of racism in this country – problems which Israel could not possibly have anything to do with. How ludicrous it is for the SJP to claim that Israel would do anything to hurt the black community in this country when Israel dedicated enormous resources and endangered its own pilots by sending plane after plane to Ethiopia to rescue thousands of Ethiopian Jews from oppression, bringing them to Israel where they are full citizens and a vital part of Israeli society.
This is not the first time that NYU’s SJP has blamed local problems on Israel with lies. Last November, this hate group signed a statement falsely accusing the so-called “Zionist administration” at the City University of New York (CUNY) of being responsible for tuition costs and student debt. (As you may know, the ZOA’s 14-page letter to CUNY officials, detailing the SJP’s history of anti-Semitic harassment and intimidation on four CUNY campuses, received intense media coverage and triggered the CUNY leadership’s decision to retain independent counsel to investigate campus incidents of anti-Semitism and CUNY’s response to it. The investigation is ongoing.)
There is no question that the SJP’s false accusations against Israel violate NYU’s principles and values. The University makes it clear that it is committed to a campus community free from bias or harassment. Students and student groups “are expected to conduct themselves in a manner that demonstrates mutual respect for the rights and personal/academic well-being of others, preserves the integrity of the social and academic environment, and supports the mission of the University.” The University also makes it clear that it “has an inherent right to address behavior that impedes, obstructs, or threatens the maintenance of order and attainment of the aforementioned goals.” (See http://www.nyu.edu/life/student-life/student-communitystandards/university-student-conduct-policies.html.)
Accordingly, as the leader of the NYU community, you have the right – and respectfully, the moral duty – to speak out against the SJP and the anti-Semitic lies it is deliberately and maliciously promoting to incite hatred of Jews and Israel. None of us should remain silent and tolerate this bigotry. It is up to you to take a leadership role: Please educate – and elevate – your community by condemning the SJP and its bigoted, anti-Semitic actions. In addition, we urge you to demand that the SJP issue an apology for promoting anti-Semitic falsehoods that are hateful and divisive, in violation of the principles and values of the NYU community.
We look forward to your response.
Very truly yours,
Morton A. Klein Susan B. Tuchman, Esq.
National President Director, Center for Law and Justice