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NYU Law Says They Will Not Be Hosting Anti-Zionist Conference on Campus

New York University (NYU) School of Law has told the Journal that they will not be hosting the Institute for the Critical Study of Zionism’s (ICSZ) upcoming conference on campus.

The Jewish Journal

Aaron Bandler

Sept. 6, 2023

A New York University (NYU) building near Washington Square Park. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

New York University (NYU) School of Law has told the Journal that they will not be hosting the Institute for the Critical Study of Zionism’s (ICSZ) upcoming conference on campus.

The ICSZ’s website had stated their conference, “Battling the ‘IHRA definition’: Theory & Activism” is being held at UC Santa Cruz on October 13 and NYU Law on October 14. However, a spokesperson for NYU Law told the Journal on August 31, “We will not and have never committed to hosting this event.” As of publication time, the ICSZ’s website states that the conference is being held at NYU, not NYU Law. But a spokesperson for NYU told the Journal on September 1 that “we are unaware of any space request related to this event other than the one submitted to the Law School by a student group … the student group had, in fact, never received confirmation for the space they sought, and have been told that space is not available.”

David Bernstein, founder of the Jewish Institute for Liberal Values (JILV) and author of “Woke Antisemitism,” told the Journal that the NYU Cinema Studies Department has since revoked their sponsorship of the ICSZ conference (Dana Polan, who chairs the NYU Cinema Studies Department, confirmed this to the Journal) and that Bernstein and JILV Director of Academic Affairs Marcy Braverman Goldstein sent a letter making a similar request to UC Santa Cruz (UCSC). The August 30 letter, obtained by the Journal, notes that UCSC’s Center for Racial Justice and Critical Race & Ethnic Studies Department are both listed as sponsors for the event.

“The conference planners are requiring participants to take a political litmus test as a condition of admittance,” Bernstein and Goldstein wrote. “The promotional material states that ‘All registrants will be asked to confirm their agreement with the points of unity beforehand.’ The first ‘point of unity’ states that ‘Zionism is a settler colonial racial project. Like the US, Israel is a settler colonial state. The Institute opposes Zionism and colonialism.’ In other words, any student or faculty member who does not share that ideological stance is not invited to attend this university-sponsored program. Welcoming ‘comrades who are involved in this work’ underscores the planners’ intention to exclude based on political viewpoint.” Bernstein and Goldstein argued that such a litmus test violates university policy and urged the university “to immediately withdraw sponsorship from this event.”

StandWithUs CEO and Co-Founder Roz Rothstein, Saidoff Legal Department Director Yael Lerman, and Center for Combating Antisemitism Director Carly Gammill sent a similar letter to UCSC on Friday, arguing that UCSC departments’ sponsorships of the ICSZ’s “points of unity” litmus test would violate state and federal law. StandWithUs also argued that the ICSZ’s conference is “antisemitic and divisive.” “ICSZ and its conference exist to oppose Zionism, the existence of Israel, and the Jews who support the movement,” Rothstein, Lerman and Gammill wrote. “In ‘studying’ Zionism, ICSZ dehumanizes Jews by falsely comparing a central component of their identity to some of the great evils of the world––settler-colonialism, racism, and white supremacy––while disregarding the fact that Jews are a diverse ethnic and religious minority who are the target of white supremacists and others’ racism, violence, and even genocide.” StandWithUs called on UCSC to denounce the conference and require that the ICSZ remove their “points of unity” litmus test.

Scott Hernandez-Jason, assistant vice chancellor of UC Santa Cruz, said in a statement to the Journal, “UC Santa Cruz does not endorse the upcoming conference organized by the Institute for the Critical Study of Zionism. We note that the conference organizers no longer require individuals to confirm their agreement with the Institute’s ‘points of unity’ before registering.” The ICSZ’s website currently states: “We invite you to read the Institute’s points of unity which are the basis for the Institute’s research community.”

Hernandez-Jason added: “We are vigorous proponents of free inquiry and the free exchange of ideas, and believe that more speech is the best approach to countering speech we find troubling. Both by policy and in practice, the university rigorously honors the freedom to present the widest range of viewpoints irrespective of agreement on those viewpoints. Amid a sharp rise in antisemitism in the United States, we urge our campus community to understand the impact of their individual views and the expressions of those views on others in the community.”

The ICSZ did not respond to the Journal’s requests for comment.

Read the full article here.


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