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CUNY Professors Union Passes Anti-Israel Resolution

The Professional Staff Congress (PSC)-CUNY voted in favor of the resolution by a vote of 84-34.


Jewish Journal

Aaron Bandler | June 15, 2021

CUNY Graduate Center | Photo by: David Shankbone


The union representing professors at the City of University New York (CUNY) passed a resolution condemning Israel on June 10.


The Professional Staff Congress (PSC)-CUNY voted in favor of the resolution by a vote of 84-34, according to The Algemeiner. The resolution, which was obtained by the Journal, decried “the continued subjection of Palestinians to the state-supported displacement, occupation, and use of lethal force by Israel.” It went on to accuse Israel of being “a settler colonial state” and noted that Human Rights Watch and the Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem have accused Israel of apartheid.


“The PSC-CUNY condemns racism in all forms, including anti-Semitism, and recognizes that criticisms of Israel, a diverse nation-state, are not inherently anti-Semitic,” the resolution stated, adding that “state-sponsored policies of settler colonialism link the Palestinian struggle for self-determination to the struggles of Indigenous people and people of color in the United States.”


The resolution concluded with a condemnation of “the massacre of Palestinians by the Israeli state” and a statement that the union is going to begin discussions to endorse the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.


Jewish groups denounced the resolution’s passage.


“This resolution will hurt CUNY’s academic aspirations and integrity,” Baruch Hillel Executive Director Ilya Bratman said in a statement to the Journal. “By intentionally omitting that Hamas fired more than 4,000 rockets into Israel’s civilian populations, the PSC Union thereby has purposefully created a one-sided anti-Semitic statement that calls for BDS to be considered at each of our chapters. They have failed to represent 30,000 union members, by being disingenuous, dishonest, and discriminatory.”


He added that the union hasn’t said anything about the 100,000 civilians killed during the Syrian civil war or the Chinese government’s “imprisonment and torture of over a million of Uighur Muslims,” yet they “self-righteously claim that Israel committed a ‘massacre of Palestinians.’ The union has proven once again to base their decisions on headlines and slogans instead of facts and civil discourse.”


“It is extremely disappointing that the CUNY PSC, has adopted an extremely bigoted, one-sided and inaccurate resolution against Israel,” StandWithUs CEO and co-founder Roz Rothstein said in a statement to the Journal. “The priority of any academic should be to engage in and provide factual education free from bias and the CUNY PSC has failed to uphold this duty. Instead, they have chosen to promote hate and misinformation against the only Jewish state in the world under the guise of claiming this is simple criticism of Israel, when in fact they have crossed the line into promoting lies and antisemitism.


“This is especially disturbing given the steep rise in antisemitism and attacks on Jewish people in cities around the world in the name of ‘anti-Israel’ activism. We call on the CUNY PSC to apologize for promoting hate and misinformation against the Jewish state, to retract this abhorrent resolution, and to take measures to engage in unbiased education about Israel, the ongoing conflict and antisemitism.”


AMCHA Initiative Director Tammi Rossman-Benjamin similarly said in a statement to the Journal, “It is now critical that CUNY administrators ensure faculty do not bring their vile anti-Zionism into the classroom and onto the campus. Student reports of antisemitic bullying, harassment and genocidal threats are through the roof, and we know there is a direct connection between faculty statements like this and incidents of antisemitic violence. CUNY administrators must guarantee that Jewish and pro-Israel students, and all students, will be equally and adequately protected from the harassment and harm that will inevitably result from reprehensible faculty behavior like this.”


Jack Saltzberg, president and founder of The Israel Group called for the Jewish community to take action. “1930s German Jews told themselves it would get better,” he said in a statement to the Journal. “We know the outcome, and their strategy worked, to a large part, with academia’s backing. So, when we see CUNY professors and teachers from the Los Angeles and San Francisco school districts work to push Zionophobia agendas and antisemitic propaganda, Jews better start to take action.”


He called for the Jewish community to “publicly pull their donations from CUNY, and Jewish students should consider looking for different schools. However, what’s most reprehensible and scary is the lack of government support that has been on the frontlines protecting… every minority other than Jews.”


David Lange, Executive Director of Israellycool Israel advocacy, also said in a statement to the Journal, “Unfortunately, US college campuses have become cesspools of antisemitism. With college professors like this teaching students, is it any wonder?”


Former CUNY Board Trustee Jeff Wiesenfeld similarly denounced “the racist, anti-Semitic and academically useless PSC of CUNY” in a statement to the New York Post, adding that the PSC “serves only to poison the minds of future leaders inside and outside the classroom.”


Representative Lee Zeldin (R-NY), who is currently running in the New York gubernatorial race, tweeted that the resolution was “insane” and that the PSC “shouldn’t have any ability at all to brainwash students, especially in a publicly funded university.”


In subsequent tweets, Zeldin noted that the New York state government is barred from conducting business with those who engage in boycotts of Israel and shared screenshots of emails between faculty members expressing support for the resolution. “These ignorantly argued emails illustrate who your tax dollars are funding to ‘educate’ our sons and daughters in public universities. This must be stopped ASAP!”


James Davis, president of the PSC, told the Post, “We are opposed to all forms of racism, including anti-Semitism, and we condemn the displacement, occupation, and violence perpetrated by the Israeli state against Palestinians. The resolution adopted by the delegates will facilitate discussion among our members of initiatives and campaigns that seek to influence the United States policy of support for Israel.”


CUNY did not respond to the Journal’s request for comment.


Read the full article here.


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