(May 24, 2019 / JNS) NYU president Andrew Hamilton slammed a graduation speech that praised the school’s student government for passing a BDS resolution even though the university president, who has condemned BDS and was not in attendance when the administration presented an award to Students for Justice in Palestine last month, can be seen on video applauding guest speaker Steven Thrasher’s speech.
In a statement on Thursday, Hamilton labeled the address by journalist and former “Saturday Night Live” alum on Monday as “objectionable.”
Thrasher, according to Hamilton, did not include the remarks on BDS in the version of the speech he submitted before the ceremony.
“We are sorry that the audience had to experience these inappropriate remarks,” said Hamilton. “A graduation should be a shared, inclusive event; the speaker’s words—one-sided and tendentious—indefensibly made some in the audience feel unwelcome and excluded.”
In his address, Thrasher praised the BDS resolution passed in December.
“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,” he said. “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.”
A letter with nearly 150 signatures from NYU alumni and faculty members, including those affiliated with the Langone School of Medicine, urges Hamilton to fight a “climate of anti-Semitism at NYU that creates a hostile environment for Jewish students, prevents honest discourse and limits academic freedom on our campus,” and that “anti-Semitism has been normalized on our campus.”
“Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), an organization that has become a symbol for anti-Israel and anti-Semitic hatred, was awarded the highest honor of any organization at NYU, the President’s Service Award,” stated the letter.
NYU spokesperson John Beckman told The Algemeiner that the anti-Israel vibe on campus doesn’t “reflect the center of gravity of opinion on our campus, and it is puzzling that the letter’s authors believe these incidents to be more of an indicator of campus sentiment than their unequivocal rejection by campus leadership and so many other members of the NYU community.”