NYC Council bill to track campus anti-Semitism is attack on Palestine activism, advocates say

US Politics
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Members of the New York City Council are pushing a bill that would require public colleges in the city to track anti-Semitism on campus. The legislation, which has not yet been submitted to the council, would require the City University of New York (CUNY) to report incidents of anti-Semitism to the City Council.

But Palestine solidarity activists say the bill is aimed at their activism. Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) chapters have waged vociferous protests in recent months against Israel on campus that have alarmed pro-Israel advocates. They have interrupted meetings and chanted for Zionists to get out of CUNY. In response to this activism, the CUNY administration has pledged to investigate bigotry on campus.

Nerdeen Kiswani, the chair of NYC SJP–a coalition of New York chapters of Students for Justice in Palestine–called the pending legislation “an effort to undermine and attack SJP,” a group that, she said, condemns anti-Semitism. She added that “we’re being tackled left and right, we’re being repressed, at every single CUNY campus.”

Jewish Voice for Peace echoes Kiswani’s concerns. In a statement sent to journalists, the organization said it is concerned the City Council bill “is intended to silence advocacy for Palestinian human rights” by conflating anti-Semitism with criticism of Israel.

The City Council bill was planned after advocacy by the right-wing Zionist Organization of America. The legislation sets up an impending clash between Palestine solidarity activists and pro-Israel advocates to be waged at the City Council, where pro-Israel sentiment is strong. The accusations of anti-Semitism come as pro-Palestine student activists at campuses such as Vassar, Oberlin, and the University of California are also being criticized for alleged bigotry. Activists say these accusations are designed to shut down advocacy for Palestinian rights.

The New York Post first revealed the plans in a report earlier this month. Councilman Mark Levine, a Democrat and chair of the Jewish Caucus at the council, told the paper that “we’re not convinced that the university is adequately tracking what is clearly a pattern of bigotry.” It’s not yet known what the exact text of the bill will be, or how the City Council will define anti-Semitism. Tova Chatzinoff, deputy chief of staff for Councilman Chaim Deutsch, who will be introducing the bill, declined to answer my questions on the phone, asking for the questions by e-mail. She did not return my e-mail, though.

The Jewish Caucus will likely find receptive ears to their proposed bill. The New York City Council is staunchly pro-Israel. Many of its members, including progressive ones, have taken trips to Israel that are organized by the Jewish Community Relations Council.

One week before the Post report, the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA), a right-wing group that supports West Bank settlements, sent a letter to the CUNY chancellor complaining about anti-Semitism and demanding that CUNY “publicly condemn the SJP and its hateful, divisive and anti-Semitic actions” and “hold this group accountable for violation of CUNY rules and policies.”

The letter recites a litany of complaints. The group complained that at a rally for tuition-free college outside Hunter College, SJP members yelled “Zionists out of CUNY.” SJP criticizes CUNY for, among other things, having study-abroad programs in Israel. The ZOA also says the rally included anti-Semitic rants like “Jews out of CUNY.” When I asked Kiswani, who attended the rally, about the “Zionists out of CUNY” chants, she said that “we don’t believe Israel should be legitimized in our educational system.” She also said she did not witness any anti-Semitism at the rally. But if she had, she said she would have told them to stop and ask them to leave.

“We see Jewish people as non-token contributors and leaders in the movement,” Kiswani said.

In late February, CUNY announced a probe into anti-Semitism on campus and a “task force” on bigotry. The Anti-Defamation League praised the CUNY leadership for the move.

Kiswani says there are double standards at work here, pointing to what she sees as a tepid response from CUNY to reports revealing that the New York Police Department infiltrated Muslim student groups and spied on them.

“The administration turns a blind eye to surveillance of Muslim students, meanwhile trumping up issues of anti-Semitism to link it politically with Palestine, which is completely unfounded,” she said.

She also noted there was no administration response to Hunter Hillel’s invitation of Mordechai Kedar, an Israeli scholar who advocated for the rape of Palestinian women to deter militant attacks. Kedar’s scheduled February event was postponed in the wake of vociferous protests. Hunter College Hillel has said it will reschedule the lecture.

 

About Alex Kane

Alex Kane is a freelance journalist who focuses on Israel/Palestine and civil liberties. Follow him on Twitter @alexbkane.

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40 Responses

  1. Neil Schipper
    March 13, 2016, 5:29 pm

    Kane: … Mordechai Kedar, an Israeli scholar who advocated for the rape of Palestinian women to deter militant attacks.

    I’d never heard of Mordechai Kedar before, but in a few minutes’ research, as I suspected, Kane’s slur is groundless.

    … I, Dr. Mordecai Kedar of the Department of Arabic at Bar Ilan University, am an avowed feminist – a fact to which the male and female Jewish and Arab students who participate in my “Gender Issues in the Islamic World” seminar will attest as I see that as more important than the subject matter.

    It follows that I am absolutely opposed to any type of violence towards women, and certainly against that violence which has sexual connotations.

    [..]

    It can be said that throughout the Arab world sexual violence and rape are an inseparable part of the many conflicts that are tearing the Arab world into shreds. Rape during conflicts is a weapon of war that has terrible psychological effects for the victim and her family, and its purpose is to subjugate them mentally, sow fear in their hearts and paralyze them militarily. This finds its expression in the Arabic proverb: “Death but not shame”, meaning “I prefer death to humiliation”, because shame in that culture is worse than death.

    And now, for the radio interview. I was asked by the interviewer how one can deter a suicide terrorist-bomber, the kind that does not fear death. My laconic, prompt answer was the standard one used in the Middle East, that is, that the threat of raping the wife or mother of the terrorist is the only threat that could prevent him from a suicide attack. It goes without saying that I did not even hint at the possibility that Israel could or should commit such a travesty as to act in that fashion.

    [..]

    Unfortunately, there are those who are exploiting what I said to badmouth me [..] I am sure that whoever is doing this is motivated by goodwill, excessive morality and sincere fear for the rule of law and the image of the State of Israel, and not, heaven forbid, by any political disagreements or cultural divide with me or any of the institutions of which I am a member.

    Source: Mordechai Kedar On Rape, the Culture of Shame – and Radio Interviews

    Alex Kane: Radical leftist. Casual liar.

    • oldgeezer
      March 13, 2016, 7:50 pm

      @NEIL

      Great save. While claiming to not have advocated such action he tries to redeem himself with a racist slur against the people’s of the middle east.

      #fail

    • echinococcus
      March 13, 2016, 9:30 pm

      Schipper,

      What a despicable creature, who while pretending to defend himself against an accusation of advocating the rape of his victims advocates exactly that.

      If the person who quotes that approvingly in a post is as despicable or mentally ill-equipped, or plain unable to read is another question.

      What was unclear in this admission of guilt?

      I was asked by the interviewer how one can deter a suicide terrorist-bomber, the kind that does not fear death. My laconic, prompt answer was the standard one used in the Middle East, that is, that the threat of raping the wife or mother of the terrorist is the only threat that could prevent him from a suicide attack

      Most intolerable is this, though:

      I, Dr. Mordecai Kedar of the Department of Arabic at Bar Ilan University… my “Gender Issues in the Islamic World” seminar

      What business has a Herrenvolk invader doing that?
      A bastard who has no business being where he is, and speaks about “male and female Jewish and Arab students”

      “Arab” my a$$. It’s not about any Mauretanians or Yemenis. It’s not about any of the invading Jewish Arabs from Morocco or Baghdad! This is about Palestinians –irrelevant if they are Arabs or Eskimos. The owners of the whole f*&^% country.

      • WH
        March 14, 2016, 4:14 am

        Strictly speaking, he did not advocate such rape with his statement. It wouldn’t surprise me if he were in favour of it, and one can call him a racist for saying that it’s all they understand, but he did not actually say one should do it. Such distinctions should be observed by journalists.

      • echinococcus
        March 14, 2016, 10:37 am

        WH,

        That may be as you say in some peculiarly American conception of “journalism” but in current human language “the only way to xyz as uttered by a Zionist is plain incitement.

      • eljay
        March 14, 2016, 10:57 am

        || WH: Strictly speaking, he did not advocate such rape with his statement. It wouldn’t surprise me if he were in favour of it, and one can call him a racist for saying that it’s all they understand, but he did not actually say one should do it. Such distinctions should be observed by journalists. ||

        I agree.

      • oldgeezer
        March 14, 2016, 11:52 am

        While he may have not advocated his words are clearly incitement by definition. He certainly didn’t waste a syllable saying it was wrong to do. And I’m not sure it was up to the journalist to make such a note as it’s merely a minor technical distinction with respect to such a vile statement from someone who clearly has no morals.

    • biggerjake
      March 14, 2016, 10:17 am

      How about if I said the following: Zionist scumbags like Mordechai Kedar are racists who insight violence and hate and the only thing that deters them is to kill their mothers and fathers and their children and destroy their neighborhoods and expel all of their relatives from the country. Of course we can’t do those things (even though that is exactly what Israel does with the families of suspected “terrorists”) but that is the world that we live in. It’s too bad we can’t do those things because that is the only thing that works.

      Would that be OK?

    • Mooser
      March 14, 2016, 3:37 pm

      “Neil Schipper”, you are hitting on all cylinders today!!

  2. Herchel
    March 13, 2016, 8:14 pm

    NYC Council bill to track campus anti-Semitism is attack on Palestine activism, advocates say

    If there was any truth to the myth that “palestinian activism” was something other than a pretext for anti Semitism, I suppose they wouldn’t have anything to worry about.

    • talknic
      March 14, 2016, 12:53 am

      @ Herchel “If there was any truth to the myth that “palestinian activism” was something other than a pretext for anti Semitism”

      So there is no truth to “the myth that “palestinian activism” was something other than a pretext for anti Semitism”

      OK, got it.

      Say … have you ever though of getting someone intelligent to write your posts for you?

    • eljay
      March 14, 2016, 7:58 am

      || Herchel: … If there was any truth to the myth … ||

      When it comes to myths, Zio-supremacists – whose flights of fancy include such “zingers” as “self-determination”, “Jewish and democratic”, “historic homeland” and “moral beacon” – win the Blue Ribbon for quantity and creativity.

    • Waterbuoy
      March 14, 2016, 11:03 am

      But seriously though, the definition of ‘antisemitism’ used by the authorities may be problematic.
      Semites include all those who speak semitic languages…. Hebrew, Arabic, Maltese but antisemitism has been narrowed in common useage to mean Jews…. and now, many zionists are attempting to extend it to any criticism of Israeli policies… even if they come from Israeli Jews!

      Better to simply ask the colleges to look for any form of religious or racial discrimination, which would include, for example anti-Arab or Islamophobic propaganda as well as any generalizations about Jews.

      • talknic
        March 14, 2016, 11:18 am

        @ Waterbuoy “..antisemitism has been narrowed in common useage to mean Jews”

        Antisemitism was coined by one Wilhelm Marr as being specific to the hatred of Jews.

        “Better to simply ask the colleges to look for any form of religious or racial discrimination, which would include, for example anti-Arab or Islamophobic propaganda as well as any generalizations about Jews “

        Agree

      • rugal_b
        March 14, 2016, 11:47 am

        Antisemitism was specific to Jews at that time when Jews were the most visible minority in Europe. It has nothing to do with hatred of Judaism or Jewish religious doctrines, but a rationalised hatred of the ‘other’, in an otherwise white Europe. In short, it was simply racism, not any different from racism against Arabs or Muslims in the modern era. Since the cause and effect of the racism is fairly similar, would it be really incorrect to say Muslims in Europe are currently facing antisemitism as well?

      • echinococcus
        March 14, 2016, 12:07 pm

        Better to simply ask the colleges to look for any form of religious or racial discrimination

        Out of your mind? Zionists are in not only in the antisemitism business, their raison d’être is to inflame and incite all other kinds of racism and discrimination.
        Are you trying to put the owners of the system out of business?

      • Mooser
        March 14, 2016, 3:59 pm

        “Semites include all those who speak semitic languages”

        Exactly! And these “semetic” languages are so named, because those people are, as the name indicated the ‘sons of Shem”. One of Noah’s kids.
        I mean, cooped up on the Ark with all those animals, two by two, if you get my drift and after the ark stopped drifting, he went to town.

      • YoniFalic
        March 14, 2016, 5:37 pm

        @talknic

        Moritz Steinschneider coined the term anti-Semitism, and he did not restrict it to hostility toward Jews.

        Just as racist “Jewish” propagandists work to redefine usage of Semitism/anti-Semitism, likewise German Nazis tried to rewrite the meanings of Aryan and non-Aryan in order to define Poles and Russians as non-Aryans.

        In the struggle against Zionism and against the continued existence of the State of Israel, not even a single term can be conceded to the racist Zionist genocide-advocates and supporters, for they would try to leverage it to justify their whole perverted and criminal ideology.

  3. Qualtrough
    March 13, 2016, 11:04 pm

    If these solons were truly concerned about hate crimes rather than protecting Israel from protests they would be pushing for a bill that would investigate all hate crimes, which is undoubtedly already on the books.. This is transparently another effort to make any act of protest against Zionism illegal.

    • MaxNarr
      March 14, 2016, 1:55 pm

      Why do you put Jews in quotation marks Yoni?

      • Mooser
        March 14, 2016, 3:50 pm

        “Why do you put Jews in quotation marks Yoni?”

        Ha! Haven’t I been saying for years that quotation marks are antisemantic! There’s a little bit of Der Sturmer in every one.

  4. MaxNarr
    March 14, 2016, 11:46 am

    Is it any surprise, after even a cursory look at this website, that most “palestinian” activists are anti-semites?

    • amigo
      March 14, 2016, 1:55 pm

      “Is it any surprise, after even a cursory look at this website, that most “palestinian” activists are anti-semites?” maxnurd

      Max , why torture yourself by constantly logging on to this den of Jew hatred. Are you a masochist .

      Do yourself a favour and toddle on over to the J Post or Y, net news.You will be a big hit there and be the recipient of thousands of thumbs up for your efforts.You can also get your rocks off hitting the thumbs down button for those damned antisemites who show up there in acceptable numbers .Why contribute to MW , s stats when you can teach them a lesson by taking your business elsewhere.You show em boy. Give em the old BDS treatment.

      • Mooser
        March 14, 2016, 2:56 pm

        “Why contribute to MW , s stats when you can teach them a lesson by taking your business elsewhere.”

        What are mere web-stats, compared to the power of “MaxNarr’s” words? The web-stats are a small price to play, nothing but sparks which fly from his rhetorical hammer blows, as he crushes Mondo on the anvil of antisemitism!

        What a guy!

    • eljay
      March 14, 2016, 2:09 pm

      || MaxNarr: Is it any surprise, after even a cursory look at this website, that most “palestinian” activists are anti-semites? ||

      I don’t know what percentage of Palestinian activists are anti-Semites, but it’s an indisputable fact that 100% of Zio-supremacists are hateful and immoral hypocrites.

      • amigo
        March 14, 2016, 4:07 pm

        “I don’t know what percentage of Palestinian activists are anti-Semites,” eljay

        What,s really galling is that we so called antisemites spend much of our valuable time trying to save zionist Jews from themselves and all we get in return are insults.The truth is , it is those who accuse us of antisemitism who are destroying Jews and hence are the real antisemites.

        Maybe we should throw in the towel and let them get on with their suicidal efforts .Who needs these blights unto the nations , anyway.Yeah I know , I do it for the cherry tomato supply.

  5. Boo
    March 14, 2016, 2:21 pm

    Condoning “anti-Semitism” is the equivalent of hating motherhood and apple pie. But of course the devil’s in the definition. Will it be the legitimate old-school one or the shiny new portmanteau one? I wait with bated breath.

    This, though:

    “My laconic, prompt answer was the standard one used in the Middle East, that is, that the threat of raping the wife or mother of the terrorist is the only threat that could prevent him from a suicide attack. It goes without saying that I did not even hint at the possibility that Israel could or should commit such a travesty…”

    — Disingenuous: not truly honest or sincere; giving the false appearance of being honest or sincere

    Halvah wouldn’t melt in Kedar’s mouth. What an abomination.

  6. James Canning
    March 14, 2016, 2:56 pm

    Criticism of Israel is not “anti-Semitic”. Opposing foolish Israeli oppression of the Palestinians is not “anti-Semitic”.

    • MHughes976
      March 14, 2016, 5:18 pm

      What does ‘anti-Semitism’ mean to you, James? To me it means ‘prejudice against at least some things characteristically Jewish’. At that rate no argument that is reasoned rather than prejudiced would be anti-Semitic. I’m not sure that oppression is foolish, in the sense of ‘against the interrests of the oppressors’ – in this and other contexts they often seem to do quite well out of it. Even if it is indeed folly, that’s not the worst thing about it.

      • echinococcus
        March 14, 2016, 5:43 pm

        What does ‘anti-Semitism’ mean to you, James? To me it means ‘prejudice against at least some things characteristically Jewish’. At that rate no argument that is reasoned rather than prejudiced would be anti-Semitic

        Without being James, I’d say you worded it perfectly.
        This just means that part of “Antisemitism” may be racism, and so to be rejected, while a lot of it, being reasoned, is perfectly kosher and we should stand our ground and send the whole non-Zionist-Zionist camp packing.

      • Mooser
        March 15, 2016, 11:32 am

        “What does ‘anti-Semitism’ mean to you, James? To me it means ‘prejudice against at least some things characteristically Jewish’.”

        Exactly, “MHughes976”! “‘prejudice against at least some things characteristically Jewish’”! Like Zionism! And what, I ask you, could be more characteristically Jewish than Zionism? Just ask any Zionist, or almost any Jew.

        So watch yourself, okay?

      • MHughes976
        March 15, 2016, 3:59 pm

        I hope that – though maybe I will get angry and lose my balance sometimes – that I, like Mondoweiss people in general, will never respond to Zionism with prejudice, only with reason, I can’t deny, rather wish I could, that Zionist sympathies are characteristic of most Jewish people these days. But that does not quite mean that Zionism is now of the essence, part of what it is to be Jewish.

      • Mooser
        March 15, 2016, 5:45 pm

        “But that does not quite mean that Zionism is now of the essence, part of what it is to be Jewish.”

        I’m not sure about that, but I’m having trouble saying what I mean.
        Maybe I should say that as of now, I feel like this; whether we like it or not, Zionism and/or a reaction to it, is pretty much at the center of Judaism, as Judaism/Jewishness intersects with the world.
        There’s simply no way around that, that I can see.

      • echinococcus
        March 16, 2016, 8:17 am

        Hughes,

        I don’t know about essences. What defines groups is not statements but statistics.
        Unlike our well-known “profiling” that targets many millions of people because of an infinitesimal portion of so-called terrorists –less frequently involved in mayhem than our own whites, there is a very sound statistical basis to suspect that a person who presents hirself as “Jewish” is in fact a Zionist. This doesn’t change, unfortunately, if the person indicates religiosity by ostentating religious symbols. It does not change either when the person protests being non-Zionist, as we have seen the damage such persons, as some JVP members, can inflict on committed anti-Zionists.

        So of course it is right to be extremely guarded until and unless there is proof of total dissociation from the mainstream.

  7. bryan
    March 14, 2016, 4:21 pm

    “And now, for the radio interview. I was asked by the interviewer how one can deter a suicide terrorist-bomber, the kind that does not fear death. My laconic, prompt answer was the standard one used in the Middle East, that is, that the threat of raping the wife or mother of the terrorist is the only threat that could prevent him from a suicide attack”

    I suspect there is an infinitely simpler way to stop terrorist bombers ( a bit of an anachronism anyway – when was the last one in Israel?) – End the Occupation Now! Might not resolve the problem throughout the Middle East since the colonial legacy, the exploitation of local resources by external powers, the suppression of nationalist movements by encouraging Islamic fundamentalism, the recent invasions of Iraq and elsewhere which have opened a Pandora’s Box, and all the other devices used by the West to screw up the region are far more complex, but Israel has the solution to this supposed suicide bombing problem readily accessible.

  8. Sulphurdunn
    March 14, 2016, 4:44 pm

    We have a lot of serious issues in this country with the way some minority peoples are treated. To include Jews as one of those groups requires you to set the bar very low indeed.

  9. Marnie
    March 15, 2016, 6:51 am

    The comments here are all by men (with the exception of moi) talking about women being raped with no voices from the persons who are the actual targets of such? Tell me guys, everything you know about rape. How much different would the world be and this conversation if men being targetted for raped? Rape is nothing new. The israelis do it, the americans do it, ISIS does it, the British, the French, etc. And it is abominable. And nobody really gives a shit.

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