BMCC-CUNY campus (Shutterstock) (Shutterstock)

CUNY-BMCC cancelled the screening of an anti-Israel film following a public outcry, including a Call to Action by United with Israel, but the issue of antisemitism on campus is far from resolved.

By Terri Nir, United with Israel

A New York City community college cancelled a planned screening of an anti-Israel film following a public outcry, including a Call to Action by United with Israel.

In March, the Borough of Manhattan Community College, part of the City University of New York (CUNY) system, ran a program titled the “Palestinian Solidarity Series.”

The program promoted anti-Israel tropes, including claims that Israel is an apartheid state, while offering support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

The series of events was to have culminated in the screening of the Jordanian film ‘Farha‘, which promotes vicious lies about the Jewish state.

Set in Israel during the 1948 War of Independence, the film portrays Israeli soldiers are war criminals and includes a scene of an Arab family being massacred by IDF soldiers.

The film’s director, Darin J. Sallam, repeatedly compared Farha’s protagonist, whom the film is named after, to Anne Frank, intimating similarities between the establishment of the State of Israel and the Holocaust.

Israeli leaders condemned Farha as well as Sallam’s comments, decrying the film as anti-Israel propaganda.

The planned screening of the film at the college, slated for March 31st, drew a fury of criticism. SAFE CUNY, a Zionist advocacy group, lambasted the college for offering credits to students who attended the screening.

“Participate in spreading antisemitism, get college credit!” the group wrote.

Hours before the event was set to take place, however, college officials released an email indicating that the screening had been nixed.

“HUGE SUCCESS against CUNY-sponsored Jew hatred at BMCC,” SAFE CUNY tweeted on Friday. “We can now tell you that for weeks, we have been working quietly and fervently with the AMAZING people at Stop BDS on Campus and with two other groups. Our joint pressure campaign and TONS of pressure from YOU has worked!”

In late March, prior to the cancellation of the Farha screening, BMCC removed an exhibit set up as part of the “Palestinian Solidarity Series” which accused Israel of “ethnic-cleansing.” The display, titled “Visual Timeline of Occupied Palestinian Land,” accused the Jewish state of “settler colonialism, military occupation, land theft, and ethnic-cleansing.”

The college issued an apology for anyone “offended and distressed” by the exhibit.

“This serious and painful incident creates an opportunity to reaffirm BMCC’s commitment to provide an inclusive space — a brave space — where all members of our community feel welcome and multiple perspectives can exist and be encouraged in a productive learning environment that values and thrives on viewpoint diversity,” the apology stated.

Story Not Over

There are still serious issues to be resolved.

Dr. Avraham Goldstein, an associate professor of mathematics at BMCC-CUNY, expressed satisfaction with the event’s cancellation, while adding that the case marked an “escalation” of CUNY’s “well-covered antisemitism problem.”

“The story with the cancellation of Farha is not over,” Goldstein said. “While the screening of the movie was cancelled, after a lot of pressure being put on the BMCC administration by various activists and groups, the story does have a very unpleasant continuation in the form of harassing [Prof.] Jenna [Hirsch] and me on Rate My Professor.”

“First, we still have no idea who was responsible for putting up this exhibit, and second, we don’t know who okayed the co-curricular credit for participation in the screening of Farha,” Dr. Jenna Hirsch, also a BMCC-CUNY associate professor of mathematics, told United with Israel..

“I have read over and over the rules and regulations for what constitutes co-curricular credit at BMCC, and I can’t find anything about movie-watching in there.  How is it possible that after almost three weeks of ‘looking into it’ from our administration, we do not have any answers yet?” Hirsch said, noting that the apology sent out by BMCC “came from a bizarre email address.”

“We have reached out to SJEC and to the BMCC administration as well numerous times, asking them to sponsor a program on Jewish indigeneity and Zionism,” but have not received a response, she said.

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