update deskSchools & Higher Education

Cruz: CUNY law-school speaker ‘slanders Israel,’ ‘celebrates antisemitism’

“I was proud to offer a different message at this year’s CUNY law commencement ceremony,” said New York City Mayor Eric Adams of the speech that called the NYPD “fascist.”

The City University of New York School of Law. Credit: Screenshot of Google Street View.
The City University of New York School of Law. Credit: Screenshot of Google Street View.

Video recirculated over the weekend on social media of Fatima Mousa Mohammed—an elected student speaker at City University of New York School of Law’s commencement ceremonies—attacking Israel from the dais on May 12. 

“In this moment of celebrating who we are, I want to celebrate CUNY Law as one of the few, if not the only law school to make a public statement defending the right of its students to organize and speak out against Israeli settler colonialism,” Mohammed said in her remarks.

A recording of her 12-minute talk, which variously referred to the law as a “manifestation of white supremacy” and to the “facade of legal neutrality,” initially appeared on CUNY’s YouTube account, but the university then removed it.  

“That this is the law school that passed and endorsed BDS on a student and faculty level, recognizing that absent a critical, imperialism, settler, colonialism lens, our work and this school’s mission statement is void of value,” Mohammed said. 

“That as Israel continues to indiscriminately rain bullets and bombs on worshippers, murdering the old, the young, attacking even funerals and graveyards, as it encourages lynch mobs to target Palestinian homes and businesses, as it imprisons its children, as it continues its project of settler colonialism, expelling Palestinians from their homes, carrying the ongoing nakba, that our silence is no longer acceptable,” she added.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) was among many to condemn the talk as antisemitic. “City University of New York class day speaker slanders Israel and enthusiastically celebrates antisemitism. Cheers on open borders and releasing violent criminals from jail. And decries the ‘fascist NYPD,’” the senator tweeted. “This is a law school. Paid for with tax dollars.”

Eric Adams, mayor of New York City, also responded to Mohammed’s talk.

“I was proud to offer a different message at this year’s CUNY law commencement ceremony—one that celebrates the progress of our city and country, and one that honors those who fight to keep us safe and protect our freedoms, like my uncle Joe, who died at age 19 in Vietnam while giving his life for our country,” he tweeted. “We cannot allow words of negativity and divisiveness to be the only ones our students hear.”

Michal Cotler-Wunsh, a former Knesset member, called the talk, which received a standing ovation, “Orwellian” and an issue not just for Jews, but for democracy.

CUNY has faced recent criticism of antisemitic behavior. An April 6 New York Post op-ed referred to it as “America’s most antisemitic university.”

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