The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) sent a detailed letter yesterday to New York University (NYU) President Andrew Hamilton, urging him to sanction two student groups – Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) and Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) – for organizing a coalition of at least 50 student groups to participate in a broad-based boycott of Israel. Orchestrated by SJP and JVP, the coalition pledged to boycott NYU’s pro-Israel student clubs, Realize Israel and TorchPAC, by not co-sponsoring any events with them.
The ZOA condemned SJP’s and JVP’s campaign to marginalize, ostracize, and shun other NYU students simply because they support Israel, rather than SJP’s and JVP’s goal to harm and destroy the Jewish state. “The obvious objective is to silence students who support Israel, who otherwise risk being isolated and blacklisted on campus,” the ZOA wrote to Hamilton.
The ZOA identified numerous NYU rules and policies that SJP and JVP are violating, warranting sanctions. In addition, the ZOA noted New York State’s anti-discrimination law prohibiting boycotts based on national origin, Governor Andrew Cuomo’s strong stance against anti-Israel boycotts in New York State, and NYU’s legal obligation under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act to remedy a hostile anti-Semitic campus environment.
The ZOA called on NYU’s president to:
(1) Publicly condemn SJP and JVP for coordinating this “campaign to intimidate, threaten and discriminate against other students simply because they do not support the destruction of Israel”;
(2) Publicly condemn as hateful, inflammatory and anti-Semitic the numerous anti-Israel falsehoods set out in the pledge that SJP and JVP orchestrated, including that Israel is engaging in a “brutal siege of Gaza” and that Israel is an “apartheid” state;
(3) Revoke SJP’s and JVP’s registered status because they are “purposefully marginalizing students who support Israel, and pitting other students against them, with the goal of silencing them in violation of their First Amendment freedoms and their other rights under NYU’s rules and policies and the law”;
(4) Issue a forceful directive to all the other student groups who joined this shameful coalition that the boycott campaign is permanently disbanded, and that they face sanctions if they clandestinely or informally support the campaign; and
(5) Issue an unequivocal public message that NYU opposes the anti-Israel BDS movement and any BDS efforts or initiatives targeting Israel.
The ZOA sent copies of the letter to NYU’s Board of Trustees, Governor Andrew Cuomo, Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, Representatives Jerrold Nadler, Carolyn Maloney and Nydia Velazquez, Mayor Bill de Blasio, NYC Comptroller Scott M. Stringer, and NYC Council Members Stephen T. Levin, Corey Johnson, Carlina Rivera, Keith Powers, and Laurie A. Combo.
Urging President Hamilton to exercise moral leadership, Morton A. Klein, ZOA’s National President; Susan B. Tuchman, Esq., Director of the ZOA’s Center for Law and Justice; and Leore Ben-David, Managing Director of ZOA Campus, said, “No student or student group should be bullied into silence. President Hamilton must immediately stop these despicable new tactics being used by SJP and JVP so that NYU remains a place where everyone – including Jewish and Zionist students – feels safe and welcome.”