City University of NY doctoral students back academic boycott of Israel


(JTA) — A group of doctoral students at the City University of New York passed a resolution calling for an academic boycott of Israel.

The Doctoral Students’ Council resolution, which called to “boycott Israeli academic institutions for as long as the Israeli state continues to violate Palestinian rights under international law,” passed on Friday afternoon with 42 students voting in favor and 19 opposed, with 9 abstentions. The council represents nearly 5,000 graduate students.

The resolution also expressed support for the campus organization Students for Justice in Palestine, the New York Daily News reported.

Jack Martins, a Republican state senator representing Nassau County, called the resolution “hate speech.” He added that the group stacked the deck in favor of the resolution by calling the vote so close to the Jewish Sabbath.

“Their effort to silence any opposition by scheduling the vote for this Friday during the Sabbath, when observant Jews cannot attend to voice their concerns, is no coincidence,” Martins wrote in a letter to CUNY Chancellor James Milliken, adding that the resolution was “disgusting and shameful.”

Milliken has said he opposes an academic boycott of Israel.

“Other CUNY leaders and I have consistently and publicly opposed a boycott of Israel institutions of higher education,” Milliken wrote in a letter to the Jewish Daily Forward, the news website reported. Milliken also said that the graduate students’ support for an academic boycott of Israel would not change CUNY’s policy, which is governed by the board of trustees.

A similar resolution failed in 2014, with 31 students voting in favor, 25 voting against and 10 abstaining.

Earlier in the week, the student government at the University of Chicago approved an Israel divestment resolution sponsored by the UofC Divest student organization in an 8-4 vote with 3 abstentions.

The resolution, Resolution to Divest University Funds from Apartheid, calls for the University Office of Investment, which manages portfolios totaling $8.7 billion, to divest from 10 companies that it says profit from “apartheid” against Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. The companies include Boeing, Caterpillar, General Electric and Motorola.

Following the vote, the university issued a statement reaffirming its position against divestment and academic boycotts.

“The University of Chicago will not divest from companies for doing business in Israel and opposes academic boycotts aimed at specific nations, including Israel,” the statement read.

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