(Credit: Jenna Hirsch)
CUNY antisemitic display

“Students are actually offered official credit, which will appear on their BMCC transcripts, for participating in these anti-Israel events,” a professor told United with Israel.

By Atara Beck, United with Israel

Pro-Israel and Jewish students and faculty at the Borough of Manhattan Community College were appalled by a “horrifying, antisemitic, campus-sponsored display” featuring antisemitic, anti-Israel propaganda, including support for terrorism.

S.A.F.E. CUNY, a non-governmental and nonprofit organization that “advocates for Zionist Jews systemically discriminated against and excluded” at CUNY, announced Thursday morning on social media and in a press release that “yesterday, we were tipped off to a horrifying, antisemitic, campus-sponsored display at Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC-CUNY).”

“In addition to sympathizing with Intifada (a call to murder Israeli Jews), among the falsehoods and tropes leveled at Jews and Israel are that Israel ‘targeted’ journalist Shireen Abu Akleh for murder, that Israel is guilty of ‘ethnic cleansing’ and that Israel is a settler-colonial state, and more,” the announcement read.

The display claims to document a “timeline of occupied Palestinian land” but is riddled with falsehoods and antisemitic tropes,” the organization said.

Dr. Jenna Hirsch, Associate Professor of Mathematics at CUNY- BMCC, told United with Israel that the exhibit was up Wednesday morning at 9 a.m., “located prominently next to the vice office of student affairs.”

“I went into the office and asked them if they were responsible for the exhibit. They said no, and when I asked them who was, they told me the women’s resource center.  I asked them if anyone else had complained, and they told me one student came in really distressed about it,” Hirsch said.

“I then headed over there, which was about 20 feet away from the exhibit, I went inside and a girl behind the desk told me that they indeed sanctioned the exhibit under the auspices of the director of the program. I didn’t believe her, so I asked her again – ‘Are you sure the director knows about this exhibit and allowed the students to put it up?’ She assured me they did.”

This vicious display is in fact only one example of the events included in the “Palestinian Solidarity Series,” a major anti-Israel campaign organized by BMCC’s Social Justice and Equity Center, which includes among its staff program coordinator Nadia Saleh, an anti-Israel activist.

On March 7, for instance, the Center sponsored an event titled “Let’s Talk Palestine,” featuring Palestinian activist Maryam Shuaib, who led a discussion on “all things Palestine from the structure of apartheid to the international impact of Israel’s jurisdiction.”

In December 2020, American novelist and philanthropist MacKenzie Scott donated $30 million  to BMCC to promote diversity, anti-racism, equity and inclusion. Some of those funds have been used to establish the Social Justice & Equity Centers at BMCC-CUNY.

According to Hirsch, it’s “scary that this propaganda is being disseminated to students” who have limited knowledge about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Jews No Longer Feel Safe on Campus

United with Israel asked what action S.A.F.E. C.U.N.Y. might take to counter this dangerous propaganda.

“S.A.F.E. C.U.N.Y. has several directors, and I am only one of them. Thus, I cannot speak in the name of S.A.F.E. CUNY before we discuss it between ourselves and agree on some steps which the group as a whole will take,” Dr. Avraham Goldstein , Assistant Professor of Mathematics at BMCC/CUNY, responded in an email.

“However, in my personal opinion, S.A.F.E. CUNY should bring to the public attention that this horrible anti-Israel activism, which includes libeling and bashing, is done in the name of an official department in the college, and not in the name of some private group or club (like ‘Students for Palestine’). The students are actually offered official credit, which will appear on their BMCC transcript for participating in these anti-Israel events!

“The ‘other side’ (i.e. Jewish and Israeli and even non-Jewish Zionist students and faculty) are not given any platform to ‘defend themselves’. The libels and even praises of ‘the armed resistance’ are presented as an obvious fact, which cannot be doubted or discussed.

“S.A.F.E. CUNY should bring to the public attention that as a result of these systematic anti-Israel activities, visibly Jewish students and faculty, and especially orthodox Jews and Israelis and Zionist Jews, no longer feel safe on campus. We believe that the rise of the anti-Semitic assaults and attacks on the CUNY campuses in the recent year or two (as admitted even by the top CUNY officials themselves) is caused by this anti-Israel histeria promoted by BMCC Social Justice & Equity Centers and their systemic campaigns of hate and libeling.”

Donors Should Be Contacted

“S.A.F.E. CUNY should bring it to the media, and to the local and national politicians and policy makers, and organize a public campaign to make sure that the politicians look into this and take steps,” Goldstein continued. “After all, CUNY is a public school, funded by the New York State and the New York City (i.e,. by the taxpayer money), and CUNY’s Board of Trustees is composed entirely of the people nominated by the State Government and the people nominated by the City Government.

“The Chancellor and all other top administrators and executives, including the President of BMCC, would have to explain themselves to this Board of Trustees and to the State and City Governments. If they fail to do so, they will be removed from their positions.

“S.A.F.E. CUNY also should contact all the donors of CUNY and inform them of what is going on at various campuses, and to what use their donations are being put. This should be done as publicly as possible – by sending open letters to these donors (which are also published in the media). I am sure that many of these donors may reconsider donating before the situation is straightened out.

“ S.A.F.E. CUNY should check what legal action(s) can be taken, and consider pursuing them,” Goldstein suggested.

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