CUNY Doubles Down on Antisemitism

The recent CUNY Law School commencement address, which the school’s administration approved of and applauded, exposed CUNY’s blatant, unapologetic encouragement of antisemitism, endorsement of BDS, and condoning of Jew-hatred on campus. When called out, CUNY’s responded by ignoring critics and doubling down on its position. Despite the widespread outrage and condemnation, CUNY has now hired known antisemite Marc Lamont Hill who was fired by CNN for his Jew-hatred and was simultaneously under investigation by Temple University’s board.

Temple University President Richard M. Englert stated, “Let me be clear: Professor Hill does not represent Temple University.” Patrick O’Connor, the chairman of Temple’s board, had directed legal counsel to explore options and “remedies,” and stated that members of the administration and board of trustees wanted to “fire him right away.” O’Connor stated that Hill’s comments were “lamentable” and “disgusting. Free speech is one thing. Hate speech is entirely different.”

Despite Hill’s racist history and prior dismissal, CUNY has welcomed him with open arms and an enviable salary. Marc Lamont Hill is now Presidential Professor of Urban Education at the CUNY Graduate School.

Hill has unequivocally proclaimed that a key mission of the Black Lives Matter movement is to annihilate the State of Israel. “Black Lives Matter very explicitly is talking about the dismantling of a Zionist project, dismantling of a settler-colonial project and very explicitly embracing BDS,” stated Hill. He has labeled Israel as, “...a land that has been stolen by greed and destroyed by hate,” and stated that Israel was “poisoning” Palestinian water. “We have an commit to...what justice requires and that is a free Palestine from the river to the sea,” says the unapologetic antisemite.

All humans opposed to racism and bigotry know that his insistence that he’s an “anti-Zionist” is intended to mask his antisemitism. It is plain and simple. Denying my people our right to self-determination as the Indigenous natives in the ancestral lands of our matriarchs and patriarchs is antisemitism.

Hill’s philosophy is the same that we see behind the wrath of Pharoah, the destruction of our Temples, the exile from our homeland, our eviction from Spain, unsparing pogroms, the horrors of Holocaust, and the expulsion of 259,000 Jews from Morocco, 140,000 from Algeria, 100,000 from Tunisia, 75,000 from Egypt, 38,000 from Libya 135,000 from Iraq, 55,000 from Yemen, 34,000 from Turkey, 20,000 from Lebanon, 18,000 from Syria and 25,000 from Iran. Thus, he proudly dictates a decree for our demise. This is no surprise at CUNY, where Palestinian activists applaud our massacres and BDS supporters salute the appointment of Hill.

Image: Marc Lamont Hill (cropped), who looks like a nice guy but isn’t, by Way180. CC BY-SA 3.0.

CUNY is home to Students for Justice in Palestine (“SJP”) with branches at Brooklyn College, College of Staten Island, Hunter College, and the John Jay College of Criminal Justice. SJP supports terrorism, commits violent acts against those they label “Zionists,” harasses and physically assaults Jewish and pro-Israel students, and aggressively disrupts pro-Israel events.

For me, personally, the saddest component of the overt Antisemitism at CUNY is the respect it denies and the dishonor it affords to the memories of countless Jews who generously contributed to the founding, funding, racial harmony, and remarkable reputation that CUNY once represented.

These individuals include Bernard Baruch of Baruch College, Larry and Carole Zicklin of the Zicklin School of Business, Mildred and George Weissman of the Weissman School of Arts and Sciences, Herbert H. Lehman of Lehman College, Paul Klapper of Queens College, Samuel & Ethel LeFrak of Lefrak Concert Hall, Benjamin Rosenthal of the Rosenthal Library, Max & Selma Kupferberg of the Kupferberg Center for the Arts, and many others.

CUNY prides itself on its 14 Alumni and faculty Nobel Laureates. They include CUNY graduate John O’Keefe, Nobel laureate in Medicine, and thirteen Jews, including 17% of all female Nobel laureates in Medicine.

  • Robert J. Aumann 1950 – Nobel laureate in Economics, 2005
  • Julius Axelrod 1933 – Nobel laureate in Medicine, 1970
  • Kenneth Arrow 1940 – Nobel laureate in Economics, 1972
  • Stanley Cohen 1943 - Nobel laureate in Medicine, 1986
  • Gertrude Elion 1937 - Nobel laureate in Medicine, 1988
  • Herbert Hauptman 1937 – Nobel laureate in Chemistry, 1985
  • Robert Hofstadter 1935 – Nobel laureate in Physics, 1961
  • Jerome Karle 1937 – Nobel laureate in Chemistry, 1985
  • Arthur Kornberg 1937 – Nobel laureate in Medicine, 1959
  • Paul Krugman 2014 Distinguished faculty - Nobel laureate in Economics, 2008
  • Leon M. Lederman 1943 – Nobel laureate in Physics, 1988
  • Arno Penzias 1954 – Nobel laureate in Physics, 1978
  • Rosalyn Sussman Yalow – 1941 Nobel laureate in Medicine, 1977

In 1964, CUNY Jewish students Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner were abducted and shot dead while fighting for the Civil Rights of Black Americans. The ultimate sacrifice they made is muddied by the pitiful presence and pathetic propaganda of Marc Lamont Hill. So is the memory of William Hallett Greene, who graduated from City College in 1884. Greene went on to become the nation’s first Black meteorologist.

Other CUNY Jewish Alumni include Zero Mostel, Jackie Mason, Alfred Stieglitz, screenwriter Ernest Paul Lehman (The Sound of Music, West Side Story, and The King and I), Ben Shahn, Red Holzman, Eli Wallach, Edward G. Robinson (Emanuel Goldenberg), Adrien Brody, Carole King, Simon and Garfunkel, and Jerry Seinfeld.

When I attended CUNY’s Queens College back in the 1970s, a common off-campus sighting was the “Mitzvah Mobile.” Approved by Rabbi Schneerson and manned by his menschkeits, one could take a break to don tefillin, or recite a last-minute b’rucha before an exam. Now, such a sighting would be a target for attack, not a refuge for our race.

CUNY Jews, both students and faculty, must not fear their choice to wear Yarmulkes, display Stars of David, or select Kosher food options. They must not be castigated for praising the Israeli Defense Force, chastised for respecting Shabbot, or penalized for observing our High Holy Days.

The CUNY Graduate Center, where Hill is employed, claims to be “...committed to advancing anti-racism in its policies” and “…committed to addressing discrimination and retaliation reports promptly.” These statements are blatant lies, and the institution must be held accountable for its unapologetic encouragement of Antisemitic racism and incitement of violence against Jews.

It's tragic that a historic Hebrew-inspired institution of higher education and human dignity became engulfed in the flames of partisan prejudice and demonic discrimination.

We must fight back. We owe it to the memory of the countless Jews who sacrificed so much and contributed so generously as part of their mission to make The City University of New York a haven of learning, not a hellhole of hate!

Gary S. Branfman, MD, is co-founder and executive producer of Israel Now.

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