(May 30, 2019 / JNS) Northwestern University denounced anti-Israel remarks made at a New York University graduation speech by incoming journalism professor Steven Thrasher, though the Illinois-based school said that he will keep his newly created position, focused on “social justice in reporting, with an emphasis on issues related to the LGBTQ community,” according to Northwestern in a statement.
“Many were understandably offended by some of the comments made by Dr. Thrasher during his commencement speech at New York University earlier this week,” said Northwestern president Morton Schapiro on Friday in a statement with university provost Jonathan Holloway. “We do not share all of his views, nor do we feel commencement was the appropriate venue to express them. However, academic freedom assures his right to hold them.”
“Northwestern as an institution unequivocally rejects BDS,” the statement continued. “To the contrary, we value our many relationships with a variety of universities and research centers in Israel.”
In his speech, Thrasher praised the BDS movement and the NYU student government for passing a resolution calling on the university to boycott Israel.
“I am so proud, so proud, of NYU’s chapters of Students for Justice in Palestine and Jewish Voices for Peace for supporting the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement against the apartheid state government in Israel because this is what we are called to do,” said the journalist and former “Saturday Night Live” alum. “This is our NYU legacy—that we are connected in radical love, and we have a duty and a privilege in this position to protect not the most popular amongst us, but the most vulnerable amongst us on every campus where we serve in every community where we live, in every place that we work.”
“This is our duty, and we must stand together to vanquish racism and Islamophobia and anti-Semitism and injustice and attacks on women and attacks on abortion rights in Tel Aviv, in Shanghai, in Abu Dhabi, in New York City, in Atlanta, in Washington, in Los Angeles, in San Francisco and everywhere in the world. Finally, now I can relax.”