(YouTube/Screenshot)
Saly Abd Alla

Saly Abd Alla was removed from investigating a case of antisemitism at CUNY”s Kingsborough Community College.

By Pesach Benson, United with Israel

The City University of New York (CUNY) removed its chief diversity officer from investigating a case of antisemitism after Jewish activists took issue with her previous employment at an antisemitic Muslim advocacy organization.

CUNY, a public network of 25 campuses tapped Saly Abd Alla to investigate antisemitic and anti-Zionist discrimination against Professor Jeffrey Lax, who is dean of the business department at the Kingsborough campus.

Lax filed a complaint over a 2020 incident in which the Progressive Faculty Caucus deliberately scheduled a meeting during the Sabbath to exclude the participation of Jewish members.

The appointment of Alla, who previously worked as a civil rights director for the antisemitic Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), was widely denounced by Jewish activists and CUNY’s Jewish students and staff.

CAIR supports BDS, defends Hamas, and engages in inflammatory rhetoric against Israel. The U.S. Justice Dept. lists CAIR as an unindicted co-conspirator in funding millions of dollars to Hamas.

According to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) “CAIR’s leadership have used inflammatory anti-Zionist rhetoric that on a number of occasions has veered into antisemitic tropes related to Jewish influence over the media or political affairs, or has descended into the vilification of Zionists, which includes the majority of American Jews, who view a connection with Israel as a component of their Jewish identity.”

The ADL added, “CAIR’s Executive Director Nihad Awad has made numerous anti-Israel comments, some of which have played into conspiracy theories about Jewish control of the media or U.S. government.”

Lax and several other Jewish professors filed a lawsuit to sever ties with the Professional Staff Congress, CUNY’s faculty union. The union, Lax says, is anti-Zionist and does not represent the interests of its Jewish members.

JNS reported that Doriane Gloria, CUNY’s vice chancellor for human resources, removed Alla from the investigation on Thursday.

In an email seen by the JNS, Gloria wrote to Lax, “Without addressing the merits of your assertions regarding the professional ability of an employee of our university to perform their duties, we are exploring alternative approaches to conduct such an investigation, so as to make it unassailable and beyond reproach.”

Lax responded with a request that Gloria work with him to select an outside, neutral, mutually agreeable and pro-bono third party to investigate.

Alla’s appointment is the latest in a string of controversies for the CUNY system, which counts more than 2,000 Jewish students and faculty among its ranks.

In May, the keynote speaker at the Law School’s graduation was a Palestinian activist who says Israel “has no right to exist” and “must be annihilated.” Also that month, the New York City Council cut $50,000 earmarked for the CUNY Law School after faculty endorsed a student measure calling for a boycott of Israel.

In June, during a New York City Council hearing on antisemitism in the CUNY system, Jewish students described harassment and discrimination in seven hours of testimonies.

In July, a group of students and staff made a high-profile and offensive vow to create programs to help CUNY Jews “unlearn Zionism.”

In August, it came out that the search committee for a diversity officer at CUNY’s Kingsborough Community College included a BDS supporter but no Jews.

A 2021 Equal Employment Opportunity Commission report found that CUNY has fostered an antisemitic environment for years.

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