An investigation into complaints that CUNY campuses are hostile places for Jewish students has produced a report heavy on high-minded pablum.
Chancellor James Milliken ordered up the probe by two notable New York lawyers in response to a Zionist Organization of America letter that portrayed Jews as targets of verbal attacks and physic.al harassment.
After interviewing students and staff, as well as reviewing video recordings and documents, attorneys Paul Schechtman and Barbara Jones concluded that CUNY is not plagued by “unchecked anti-Semitism.”
Remove the qualifier “unchecked” and the truth emerges that Jewish students have faced significant anti-Semitism, including harassment that broke the boundary of expression protected by the First Amendment.
While colleges and university has no place prohibiting even vile forms of expression, they must punish harassment and intimidation — and their leaders must condemned hateful speech.
A group called Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) was at the heart of the CUNY investigation.
The organization staged a demonstration at which protesters shouted “Jews out of CUNY” and “Death to the Jews.” A person in the crowd said, “Is that all you can do, come along, take for your people, Jewish people, come along, you racist sons of bitches?”
Someone also said, “We should drag the Zionist down the street.” A student who had draped an Israeli flag over her shoulders felt hands tugging at it. Someone pulled a pro-Israel sign from a student’s hands and stomped on it.
The report ranged far wider.
Anti-Semitic graffiti has shown up at several campuses.
At Brooklyn College, students disrupted a faculty council meeting, shouting “Zionist Jew” at the chairman.
A Jewish student reported getting a text message from an SJP member that stated, “I hope you don’t walk alone on campus.”
Students stated that an adjunct English professor called Israelis baby killers and made disparaging comments when Jewish students said they would miss class for a religious holiday. The professors is no longer at CUNY.
SJP pressured the Muslim Students Association to back out of a an event cosponsored with the Jewish student organization John Jay Hillel.
“We fear for your safety and ours,” wrote leaders of the Muslim Students Association.
Disrupting a discussion of women in the Israeli army, a pro-Palestinian student shouted that Israeli soldiers were “killers.” The professor did not intervene, but later apologized to the class.
SJP followers have blamed Zionists for tuition hikes at CUNY and and called for removing Zionists from CUNY.
A student reported that, when a professor discussed faculty contract negotiations, a classmate said that CUNY’s administration was run by Zionists.
Speakers at a Hunter College rally blamed CUNY’s problems on Zionist control.
In these contexts, the speakers are clearly using the term Zionism (which is the movement for the creation and preservation of a Jewish homeland in Israel) and Zionist as anti-Semitic code for Jewish and Jew.
Dismissing the idea in a single sentence, as the CUNY report does, serves only to paper over ugliness that Milliken and the entire CUNY administration must address any time that a student or faculty member holds Zionism or Zionists responsible for anything at the university.
To stand silent amid anti-Semitism, checked or unchecked, is to condone scapegoating Jews.
This article was published by the Daily News and may be found here.