Fordham bans Students for Justice in Palestine

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Citing concerns that Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) would be too “polarizing” for the campus to tolerate, Fordham University denied status to a group of students seeking to establish an SJP club. Palestine Legal and the Center for Constitutional Rights wrote Fordham today to challenge the decision as a violation of free speech and civil rights. Fordham denied the club after delaying students’ application for over one year, and after repeated questioning about their support for boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) and whether they would work with the Israel lobby group J Street. There is no appeal.

“My own university told me I can’t share my culture and history like other students because I’m a Palestinian who believes in Palestinian freedom,” said Ahmad Awad, whose family is originally from the West Bank, and who hoped to be president of SJP. “I just graduated last month, so I’ll never have that chance.”

Palestine Legal’s letter explains that when Fordham censored SJP, it violated free speech and academic freedom guarantees. It also states:

Title VI of the Civil Rights Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, or national origin by institutions that receive federal funding. A university may lose its federal funding if it treats a student differently because of his/her national origin, resulting in a denial of a student’s educational activities.

In a letter to students denying the club status, Dean Keith Eldredge expressed concern that SJP’s “sole purpose is advocating political goals of a specific group,” that the group would lead to “polarization” and that “the call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions of Israel presents a barrier to open dialogue.”

“No one’s more polarizing than president-elect Trump, but Fordham did not ban the College Republicans,” said Palestine Legal staff attorney Radhika Sainath. “In singling out a group dedicated to Palestinian rights for censorship, Fordham makes a mockery of its supposed commitment to freedom of inquiry and critical thinking.”

The letter notes other political and cultural groups at Fordham that are granted associational status including the Rainbow Alliance, Women in STEM and African-American, Asian-Pacific Islander, French, Greek, Irish, Italian, Korean, German, Latino, Polish and South Asian clubs.

This incident epitomizes the well-documented and widespread suppression of Palestinian rights advocacy across the country. Palestine Legal and the Center for Constitutional Rights documented hundreds of such incidents in a report released in 2015, “The Palestine Exception to Free Speech: A Movement Under Attack in the U.S.”

Fordham’s decision comes after mounting pressure to censor SJP’s criticism of Israeli policy. Last year the New York state senate voted to cut $485 million dollars in funding to the City University of New York (CUNY) after the Zionist Organization of America falsely accused CUNY of tolerating antisemitic activity by SJP, and demanded that CUNY ban SJP from all campuses. The accusations against SJP were rebuked after a former federal judge and prosecutor conducted a 6-month independent investigation, which determined it was a “mistake” to blame SJP.

Palestine Legal has responded to over 600 such incidents since January 2014, the vast majority of which targeted students and scholars.  “As we celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. and the achievements of the civil rights movement through boycotts, sit-ins, and marches, and as we usher in a president who threatens to crush dissent, we must all be vigilant in safeguarding our right to come together to seek change,” said Maria LaHood, Deputy Legal Director at the Center for Constitutional Rights. “If Fordham is truly committed to fostering learning and leadership, it must allow its students to come together to seek justice for Palestine, or find itself on the wrong side of history.”

About Palestine Legal

Palestine Legal is an independent organization dedicated to protecting the civil and constitutional rights of people in the US who speak out for Palestinian freedom. To learn more visit palestinelegal.org.

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42 Responses

  1. chocopie
    January 17, 2017, 1:14 pm

    Unbelievable.

  2. eljay
    January 17, 2017, 1:17 pm

    … In a letter to students denying the club status, Dean Keith Eldredge expressed concern that SJP’s “sole purpose is advocating political goals of a specific group,” that the group would lead to “polarization” and that “the call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions of Israel presents a barrier to open dialogue.” …

    I wonder: Does Mr. Eldredge advocate “open dialogue” with other supremacist nations or groups that are blatantly and unapologetically oppressive, colonialist and (war) criminal, or does his love of “open dialogue” encompass only the “Jewish State”?

  3. Citizen
    January 17, 2017, 2:26 pm

    I remember going to university in the late 1960s; the key concept enshrined then was you could protest or spread any notions because the universities were devoted to the “free flow of ideas,” if not there, then nowhere. The emotional comfort of the students or faculty or public was not protected at all. Certainly there was none for any US military veteran, which I was at the time. This sure has changed when it comes to anything Israel. Looking back, great chang came, primarily, I conclude now, due to the skin in the game posed by military conscription. I think the two fists available to support Palestine now are primarily 1) the American value of equal rights under law and the fact that Israel is America’s foreign welfare queen.

    USA & Israel were the last two states to give up supporting apartheid South Africa. But right is on the Palestinian side.

  4. Tom Suarez
    January 17, 2017, 3:15 pm

    It will backfire.

  5. Blownaway
    January 17, 2017, 5:49 pm

    But Hillel is ok? Jesuit hypocrisy is the worst kind

  6. pabelmont
    January 17, 2017, 6:04 pm

    Do they have a Hillel chapter? Another question: most “national” groups of students (Irish Students, French Students) (if they exist as organized groups) have a diverse cultural agenda. But Palestinians, because of the severe character of their national experience, are inevitably tied to a particular political agenda of which BDS is one expression. It is noteworthy that Jews, whose Hillel organizations are nominally “about” Jewish religion, culture, and experience, sometimes (sadly: often) take one strand of Jewish culture and experience (not religion IMO), namely the defending and promotion of the modern State of Israel, as a sine qua non or dominating definition of Jewish culture and experience.

    Does this dimwit who denies Palestinian students a nationalist campus presence at Fordham also deny a Jewish campus presence to Jews? To Hillel? And if the “comfort” of other students is the measure of the allowing of students to join in clubs, is the “comfort” of Palestinian students considered when granting privileges to Jewish groups or to Hillel?

    But perhaps Fordham does not allow Jewish students to form campus groups and has no Hillel.

    • Mooser
      January 17, 2017, 6:43 pm

      “But perhaps Fordham does not allow Jewish students to form campus groups and has no Hillel.”

      Do they really need one?

    • Mooser
      January 18, 2017, 11:49 am

      The link is to:

      “Professor Doron Ben-Atar – “Kosherizing the New Antisemitism: Jewish Anti-Zionism”
      Title: “Kosherizing the New Antisemitism: Jewish Anti-Zionism”

      Speaker: Professor Doron Ben-Atar, Professor of History, Fordham University”

  7. ritzl
    January 17, 2017, 7:06 pm

    “and that ‘the call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions of Israel presents a barrier to open dialogue.’ ”

    Translation from Fordham-speak: …and that the call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions of Israel presents a barrier to open MONOlogue.

    Much better.

  8. J.G. Sandom
    January 17, 2017, 9:24 pm

    I assume, then, they are also banning all Jewish organizations since Bibi insists that Israel represents all Jewry. If not, they are Catholic hypocrites.

  9. hophmi
    January 17, 2017, 9:51 pm

    SJP is not a national or religious group. Title VI does not apply here. Palestine Legal is blowing smoke. Amazing that people here would compare a political group like SJP with a Jewish cultural and religious group like Hillel. Bad, bad people here at Mondoweiss.

    • Annie Robbins
      January 17, 2017, 10:02 pm

      cultural and religious group like Hillel

      hillel is a zionist organization (political). as long as there’s a zionist limitus test, it’s political.

      • JohnSmith
        January 18, 2017, 2:38 am

        Does a crank/troll like Hophmi really deserve a voice here? If he wanted to make a valid legal or logical argument that would be one thing, but there are numerous ways in which his diction is sneering and insulting. What kind of person looks at a Web site where people are simply arguing for common, everyday, decency and humanity and says a babyish insult like “bad, bad people”? Oh, no: Bad, bad Hophmi! Bad! Bad!

      • Annie Robbins
        January 18, 2017, 2:47 am

        his diction is sneering and insulting.

        john, i am well aware. he’s some sort of fixture here. you’d have to ask adam or phil, it’s out of my hands. needless to say he’d be long gone if…

      • Sibiriak
        January 18, 2017, 3:36 am

        JohnSmith: Does a crank/troll like Hophmi really deserve a voice here?
        ————-

        If he doesn’t violate the rules–yes, absolutely!

        MW Comments Policy:

        One of the goals of this site is to promote critical discussion and debate on US foreign policy and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. We want Mondoweiss to be a place that everyone feels comfortable visiting, to read and comment, regardless of political perspective. People might not always like what we post, but everyone should feel invited and encouraged to join the discussion, share their opinions, and engage in debate. [emphasis added]

        http://mondoweiss.net/policy/

        If there were no posters here presenting Zionist arguments, there would far less critical discussion and debate . Some of MW’s most informative posts–many of Hostage’s for example–have come in response to posters like Hophmi.

        I’d advise: just ignore the sneering and insulting and debate the facts/logic.

      • Mooser
        January 18, 2017, 12:01 pm

        .“he’s some sort of fixture here”

        Well, as “Hophmi ” says: “Phil knows who I am.”

      • inbound39
        January 18, 2017, 5:08 pm

        Hophmi is a morale booster at Mondo……he teaches us…in his comical way…..how not to be. He has a wonderful knack of making a laughing stock of zionists. Don’t take him seriously……lighten up and enjoy his comedy.

      • Annie Robbins
        January 18, 2017, 5:44 pm

        ok. you’re probably right.

      • Mooser
        January 18, 2017, 6:22 pm

        “lighten up and enjoy his comedy.”

        “Annie” this may not occur to you, not that it should, I guess, but can you imagine how many times his own weight in “there but for the grace of Gods*”… “Hophmi” is worth to a certain portion of the readership?

        * Your choice of gracious Deity, or redeeming factor of course.

      • Talkback
        January 19, 2017, 2:17 pm

        JohnSmith: “Does a crank/troll like Hophmi really deserve a voice here?”

        Hophmi’s involuntary delegitimation of Zionism and its supporters becomes borderline when he antisemitically conflates Zionism/Israel with Jews by equating criticism of Zionism/Israel. But my opinion is that Mondoweiss should document this behaviour for historical reasons.

      • RoHa
        January 19, 2017, 9:24 pm

        I’m with Siberiak.

        Whilst I use MW to exchange quips and cranks and contradictions queer with Mooser and eljay, there are people who read it for information and ideas. (I know this because they occasionally break their silence and post a comment. )

        Seeing hophmi’s comments, and the replies he receives, is a grand education in Zionism and its faults.

      • hophmi
        January 20, 2017, 8:51 am

        By that standard, Muslim Student Associations are political as well. But I doubt you’d say this about them.

      • hophmi
        January 20, 2017, 8:53 am

        Thanks, Annie, for making so clear your yen to censor those who disagree with you. We all knew it, of course, but you’ve been nice enough to say so explicitly here. Seems to me you don’t have the courage of your convictions.

      • Mooser
        January 20, 2017, 11:34 am

        “Thanks, Annie, for making so clear your yen to censor those who disagree with you.”

        “Hophmi”, there’s really only reason Mondo doesn’t ban you. Phil is terrified you will start your own blog, and wipe Mondo right off the web.
        Phil does not intend to make the same mistake Jared Kushner made.

    • Atlantaiconoclast
      January 17, 2017, 11:49 pm

      Then why are you here? I disagree quite often with the people who post on this site, but I would never think of them as “bad” people. Put a mirror in front of your face! Try self awareness.

    • broadside
      January 18, 2017, 10:54 am

      To JohnSmith: I agree. I think it’s time to cut off hophmi, no different than a bartender would an annoying, blabbering drunk, saying the same thing to everyone.

      Big Daddy: “What’s that smell in this room? Didn’t you notice it, Brick? Didn’t you notice a powerful and obnoxious odor of mendacity in this room?…There ain’t nothin’ more powerful than the odor of mendacity!”

      That’s hophmi. A liar, and worse, a bore.

    • Mooser
      January 18, 2017, 11:46 am

      “Bad, bad people here at Mondoweiss.”

      ‘Bad, bad, Mondoweiss.
      Where the folks are cold as ice!
      Badder than old King Herod,
      Meaner than a junkyard dog!’

      • hophmi
        January 20, 2017, 8:55 am

        Yes, there are definitely some bad people here. They’re the kind of people who would ban me for disagreeing with them (and for putting up with mounds of personal abuse here for doing so), but not ban Holocaust deniers like Ronald, who blame Jews for WWI and promote David Irving’s. Those are bad people.

      • eljay
        January 20, 2017, 10:23 am

        || hophmi: Yes, there are definitely some bad people here. They’re the kind of people who would ban me for disagreeing with them … but not ban Holocaust deniers like Ronald … Those are bad people. ||

        The bad people here are also Zionists, every last one of whom is a hateful and immoral supremacist and hypocrite. Yes, those are bad people.

      • Mooser
        January 20, 2017, 11:40 am

        “They’re the kind of people who would ban me for disagreeing with them”

        So you would go start your own blog and blow Mondo off the internet? Who in their right mind would risk that?

        “mounds of personal abuse”

        How is it personal, you overstuffed pouter pigeon? What is “personal” about it?

      • Mooser
        January 20, 2017, 3:39 pm

        “They’re the kind of people who would ban me for disagreeing with them”

        Hit it, Professor Hicks! One time for “Hophmi”!

    • K Renner
      January 19, 2017, 12:25 pm

      @Hasbarat

      Stop whining, hypocrite.

      Stop lying, hypocrite.

      Hillel is 110% a political group. A Jewish and Zionist organization that, typically, promotes Israel and anti-Palestinian sentiments, including anti-Palestinian denialism.

      Pathetically enough, almost all Jewish religious and cultural groups are likewise political in this vein.

      “bad, bad people here at MW”

      Good god. The irony in a character like you calling anyone else “bad” is so thick it’s unbelievable.

      Go away, hasbarat.

    • Talkback
      January 19, 2017, 12:56 pm

      Hophmi: “Amazing that people here would compare a political group like SJP with a Jewish cultural and religious group like Hillel.”

      True. Hillel are opinion fascists when it comes to Israel.

      Hophmi: “Bad, bad people here at Mondoweiss.”

      Another example of opinion fascism.

  10. amigo
    January 18, 2017, 10:02 am

    Dublin , Ireland. Israeli embassy attempts to close down event at University Colledge Cork , (UCC). They claim it is designed to de legitimize Israel and legitimize antisemitism.

    http://www.irishtimes.com/opinion/letters/ucc-conference-and-israel-1.2940528

    Btw , this is the same conference that was cancelled by Southampton University, (UK) , in 2015 , citing security concerns.

    I wonder how long it will be before we learn which Irish politicians are on a “take down” list and whether our FM is an idiot or not.

    • Annie Robbins
      January 18, 2017, 11:33 am

      amigo, i see this is getting a lot of press. i just read a stand with us call to action w/a prepared text to email the admins at cork college. it appears Professor George Bisharat, University of California, Hastings College of the Law is one of the organizers http://criticallegalthinking.com/2016/12/12/announcement-international-law-state-israel-legitimacy-responsibility-exceptionalism/. i attended what i think was the first conference of this kind at hasting college a few years ago, organized by Bisharat, it was absolutely fascinating. a lot of pressure was put on hastings to cancel the event. the list of speakers was phenomenal. it lasted for 3 days, i will never forget. and there were so many international law specialists there (luminaries). some of the information was over my head, especially during the question and answer sessions after the lectures because there were professionals questioning professionals and they got into discussions referencing cases (so-and-so vs so-and-so) that everyone in the profession and students of law knew about, and i knew nothing about. but for the most part the lectures were cutting edge and i could follow. incredibly smart and interesting. i hope the conference is not shut down. that would be a shame. if that is the case organizers should find another place in the vicinity of cork college and go through with it. i am going to write cork college — to counter the stand w/us initiative.

      • amigo
        January 18, 2017, 1:25 pm

        Hi Annie, , is there anywhere on the planet these zionist b——-s dont have their tentacles poking around.It is really incredible the ends they can and do go to , to prevent any and all from discussing the zionist entity , unless it is to praise them.

        On the issue of security around such an event , the only concern is whether some paid for thugs from the nearest Friends of Israel group shows up to do a bit of shoving and pushing and then file a complaint accusing those they pushed of violence and or antisemitism.We saw this tactic used in the AJ series.

        I am particularly looking forward to attending this .I had planned to go to Southampton last summer but as you see , that was cancelled.

        I too will write to UCC management and also give a hefty donation to the organisers of this event.Damned if I won,t do my part to stop these B——s from stepping on my/our right to free speech.

        As an after thought , the organisers should hold the event at the Abbey Theater and no such concerns , interference by the Israeli embassy will arise.That was where Gideon levy spoke last year.No problems whatsoever.Not a peep out of the IZL (Irish Zionist Lobby).

      • Annie Robbins
        January 18, 2017, 1:33 pm

        the abbey theatre capacity is 628. that might be enough. my hunch tho, is cork college either has funds available of professors and professionals can get their expenses paid if it’s hosted by the university and maybe not otherwise. i don’t know. either way, if you can get in touch with any organizer and suggest the fo fund me idea, we could write about the conference and link to it.

        the only concern is whether some paid for thugs from the nearest Friends of Israel group shows up to do a bit of shoving and pushing and then file a complaint accusing those they pushed of violence and or antisemitism.

        yeah of course. this is what the “$ecurity” is about. of course they’ll show up, and they are violent too.

      • amigo
        January 18, 2017, 2:11 pm

        I will try to contact someone on the org committee and get back to you thurs or fri.

        Thanks for the offer to write about it.That would be a big benefit in gaining fundingI believe this conference has been chased out of a few countries and it sure would be nice to have it succeed in Ireland , in the rebel county (Cork).

        I had not heard of gofundme option.I will pass that along to appropriate folks at UCC.

    • Annie Robbins
      January 18, 2017, 11:51 am

      amigo, i see that cork college has an announcement on it’s website https://www.ucc.ie/en/about/uccnews/fullstory-744548-en.html after a bunch of yada yada saying they couldn’t do it on that date it reads:

      The Management Team concluded that it is prepared to permit the conference to proceed on the fulfilment of the conditions which include the following:

      1. a revised date for the conference needs to be agreed with the University which is out of term and not clashing with University examinations.

      2. the submission of an Event Management Plan [“EMP”] by the organisers for the agreement of the University which covers all aspects of the conference organisation. No date for the conference can be agreed until the EMP has been finalised;

      3. based on the Event Management Plan, the provision of a budget by the organisers to cover any additional costs to the University, particularly additional security costs.

      The University’s approval is contingent on agreement on and fulfilment of its conditions.

      security concerns, like preparing for a protest. it could cost thousands. someone should start a go fund me campaign to raise money for the security. i bet people from all over the world would contribute.

  11. genesto
    January 18, 2017, 1:07 pm

    And this, I’m afraid, will only get worse under Trump!

  12. James Canning
    January 18, 2017, 1:15 pm

    Yet more suppression of free speech, achieved by the Israel lobby.

  13. Talkback
    January 19, 2017, 1:04 pm

    Supported by Jews against free speech.

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