(April 13, 2021 / JNS) The City University of New York’s Student Senate voted on Sunday against twoconflicting resolutions focused on the working definition of anti-Semitism by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance.
One resolution, titled “Condemning Anti-Semitism and Supporting the CUNY Jewish Community,” was submitted to the USS in March. It called on CUNY to take certain measures to better protect its Jewish student body, including the adoption of the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism.
In response, a resolution was brought forth on April 8 by CUNY Students for Justice in Palestine, the CUNY Law Student Government and the CUNY Jewish Law Students Association, which is aligned with the anti-Israel group Jewish Voice for Peace. The bill’s co-sponsor, Nerdeen Mohsen Kiswani, made headlines earlier this year for posting a video on TikTok in which she set fire to an Israel Defense Forces sweatshirt.
The latter resolution alleged that the IHRA definition “has been used to create a false and dangerous polarity of interests between Palestinian and pro-Palestinian rights students and Jewish students.” It goes on to say that the wording “endangers and defames those advocating for Palestinian rights as inherently anti-Semitic, and has already been used to smear Palestinian, Arab and Muslim groups and individuals at CUNY, and to stifle free speech and political debate on campuses.”
Additionally, the resolution claimed that “the equation of speech and activity opposing Israel and Zionism, and/or supporting Palestinians, as inherently anti-Semitic is a form of anti-Palestinian racism.” It further stated that “anti-Semitism is not an exceptional form of bigotry. People and systems that hate, discriminate and/or attack Jews have also upheld structural racism, patriarchy and white supremacy.”
Roz Rothstein, CEO of StandWithUs, said that while she was disappointed that the IHRA resolution was defeated, she was relieved that the SJP-led resolution was also voted down.
“We commend Jewish students for standing up to such malicious bigotry and for the petition they created online that garnered thousands of signatures in favor of the IHRA definition,” she said. “CUNY can still do the right thing by supporting the majority of Jewish students and recognizing the IHRA definition, and we call on them to do so.”
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