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CUNY BDS

Critics call the Anti-Zionist Jewish Coalition a “throwback to Soviet re-education campaigns.”

By Pesach Benson, United with Israel

A group of students and staff at City University of New York has vowed to create programs to help campus Jews “unlearn Zionism.”

The news group, calling itself the “Anti-Zionist Jewish Coalition at CUNY” announced its launch earlier in July and publicized its goals in a letter first reported by The Forward.

“As proud members of the Jewish community, we wholeheartedly denounce any attempts to equate Zionism to Judaism or Jewish life. We define Zionism as a 125-year-old political ideology built with inspiration from European colonialism, ethnic nationalism, and white supremacy since its conception. It is an ideology that continues to justify and normalize acts of genocide and ethnic cleansing upon the people of Palestine and targets Palestinians and their allies globally. All of which is backed by United States imperialism,” the letter said.

“The illegitimate state of Israel betrays every metric of Jewish values as it commits genocide within the land of Palestine, funds Nazi militia groups abroad, arms fascists oppressing liberation revolutionary groups, inspires fascist regimes and white supremacists globally, and oppresses Black and Brown Jews of Color within the settler colonial state of Israel,” it added.

The letter also listed a series of measures the coalition pledged to undertake.

One in particular drew a heavy backlash by committing to, “Create networks and programs within the CUNY Jewish population to question, critique, and unlearn Zionism so they may form their own Jewish identity.”

Blake Flayton, a columnist at the Jewish Journal of Los Angeles tweeted, “Throwbacks to Soviet re-education campaigns to un-Jew Jews.”

The letter has been signed by 37 students and staff, and by an additional 11 non-CUNY signatories, not all of whom are Jewish.

The Forward noted that one of the non-CUNY signatories was Stanley Cohen, an attorney who has represented members of Hamas, Hezbollah and Al Qaeda.

Antisemitism has been a particular problem at CUNY with the New York City Council holding a hearing in early July where lawmakers grilled administrators.

In May, $50,000 in funds for the law school were reappropriated after the faculty endorsed a BDS measure.

The CUNY law school raised further ire when it invited Nerdeen Kiswani, who has a history of incitement and Israel-bashing rhetoric, to deliver the commencement address.

And a group of Jewish professors have filed a lawsuit to break ties with the antisemitic faculty union that they say no longer represents their interests.

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