(Scroll down for the ZOA Action Alert)
March 29, 2022
President Heidi MacPherson
350 New Campus Drive
Brockport, NY 14420
Dear President MacPherson:
We were horrified to learn that despite huge and justified public outcry, SUNY Brockport is nevertheless going to feature Jalil Muntaqim (formerly known as Anthony Bottom) as the speaker at a virtual event on April 6, 2022, about the “history of Black resistance, U.S. political prisoners, and genocide.” The event’s announcement includes a detailed description of Muntaqim’s background, but omits the essential fact that he spent over 40 years in prison for murdering two police officers in cold blood in 1971. The description of Muntaqim notes that he co-founded an organization called the Jericho Movement, but it omits the crucial fact that this organization is antisemitic, promoting inflammatory lies about Jews and Israel and calling for Israel’s destruction.
A convicted cop-killer and an inciter of antisemitism does not deserve a speaking platform anywhere, but especially at a taxpayer-funded university that describes itself as “an inclusive learning community that inspires excellence.” We urge you to reconsider the decision to host Muntaqim and cancel the event right away. At a minimum, we urge you to issue a strong public condemnation of the event and explain why SUNY Brockport opposes giving Muntaqim a podium.
Muntaqim’s murder of two police officers should surely be enough reason to cancel his upcoming speaking engagement. The ruthlessness of his crimes is sickening. After Muntaqim and his accomplices lured the police officers to a Harlem housing project, one officer was shot in the head. The other was shot 22 times while begging for his life.
Muntaqim’s anti-Israel and antisemitic Jericho Movement is even more reason to deny him a speaking platform at SUNY Brockport. The Jericho Movement promotes the lie that Zionism – the expression of the Jewish people’s right to self-determination and statehood in their religious and ancestral homeland – is “a form of white supremacy and European colonialism.” The Jericho Movement also promotes the lie that the Jewish people are interlopers and land-stealers, when in fact they are indigenous to the Land of Israel, with ties to their religious and ancestral homeland that go back thousands of years. The organization denies Israel’s right to exist and calls for its destruction – and justifies violence and terrorism to accomplish that goal, by promoting a Palestinian Arab “right to resist” and “right to liberate [the Land of Israel] by any means necessary.” On its website, the Jericho Movement devotes paragraph after paragraph to answering the question, “How do Zionists disrupt our work and how can we stop them?”
SUNY Brockport has been justifying its failure to cancel the Muntaqim event based on the academic freedom of the faculty member who invited him to speak. But academic freedom is not without its limits. For example, teaching inflammatory, racist lies should not be covered by academic freedom, especially when the consequences could be serious and even dangerous, as they are here. SUNY Brockport acknowledges that the Muntaqim event has already elicited strong and even traumatic reactions and will continue to do so, to the point that the university has advised those negatively affected individuals to seek out counseling and other supportive services. It is hard to justify proceeding with this event – when the ramifications for students and others are so harrowing – and the speaker’s background and credentials have been so grossly misrepresented. Muntaqim is no “political prisoner,” as SUNY Brockport’s website describes him. He is a cop-killer and an instigator of Jew- and Israel-hatred.
We urge you to reconsider hosting Muntaqim and notify the campus community that the invitation to him has been rescinded. At a minimum, we urge you to exercise your own free speech rights and issue a strong statement of condemnation to the campus community. Let the community know that SUNY Brockport (1) opposes giving Muntaqim a speaking platform; (2) opposes the faculty member’s irresponsible decision to invite the speaker, distort his record and falsely characterize him as a “political prisoner”; and (3) rejects and condemns Muntaqim’s false and abhorrent antisemitic views.
Thank you for considering our concerns. We look forward to your response.
Very truly yours,
|Morton A. Klein
|Susan B. Tuchman, Esq.
Dir., Center for Law & Justice