NEW YORK (JTA) — Two Jewish New York state assemblymen have called for the “immediate suspension” of a pro-Palestinian student group from the City University of New York’s campuses.
In a letter to CUNY Chancellor James Milliken released Tuesday, Dov Hikind and David Weprin, Democrats from Brooklyn and Queens, respectively, demanded that Students for Justice in Palestine be suspended, saying they were responding to “several incidents that have left many Jews feeling fearful and intimidated,” according to a news release issued by Hikind.
Thirty-three other elected officials, Republicans and Democrats, signed onto the letter, in which Hikind described Students for Justice in Palestine as a “toxic” organization whose “true nature and belief” is “nothing short of the total destruction and elimination of the State of Israel.”
Earlier this month, the New York State Senate approved a resolution to cut $485 million in funds for the CUNY system, saying it was to “send a message” that the colleges were not taking enough action in response to alleged campus anti-Semitism.
The resolution came weeks after the Zionist Organization of America, a right-wing pro-Israel group, sent Milliken a lengthy letter detailing Jewish students’ complaints of anti-Semitism and warning that they violate Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, which requires that federally funded universities ensure that Jewish students and others suffer no discrimination on campus.
CUNY launched an investigation into the allegations and the university said it was assembling a task force to promote a more respectful environment on campus.
In the news release, Hikind applauded the efforts and follow-through in the CUNY administration’s investigation of anti-Semitism on its campuses, but said it should take “concrete steps against this hostile environment.”
“We call for the immediate suspension of the Student for Justice of Palestine from City University of New York campuses, sending a clear and unequivocal message that hatred and bias have no home at CUNY,” Hikind said. “No funding should be rewarded to a group that engages in incitement and intimidation.”
Students for Justice in Palestine has over 126 chapters at American universities, according to a March 10 report by the Anti-Defamation League, which described the group as “the primary organizer of anti-Israel events on U.S. college campuses and the group most responsible for bringing divestment resolutions to votes in front of student governments.”
In 2015, Loyola University Chicago temporarily suspended its SJP chapter from holding campus activities following the harassment of a Jewish group on campus. The Northeastern University chapter was suspended for a month and a half in 2014 — then put on probation — after the group distributed mock eviction notices in student dorms to protest Israeli policies affecting the Palestinians.