update deskBoycott, Divestment & Sanctions (BDS)

Pro-Israel groups urge president of NYU to act on discriminatory statement

“If Catholic students were told they had to disavow the Vatican before they could engage with other members of the student body, everyone would agree that it would be blatant discrimination. This is no different,” said Alyza Lewin, president and general counsel of the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law.

New York University’s campus in Greenwich Village. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.
New York University’s campus in Greenwich Village. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

With the academic year about to begin, Israel advocacy groups, including the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law (LDB), StandWithUs (SWU) and Alums for Campus Fairness (ACF), wrote a letter on Monday to New York University President Andrew Hamilton, asking his administration to address a discriminatory joint statement issued in April by 53 NYU student groups, including Students for Justice in Palestine and Jewish Voices for Peace, which declared that the student organizations would boycott two pro-Israel student groups on campus: Realize Israel and TorchPAC.

The latest letter is a follow-up on three previous letters sent to Hamilton by the organizations. This specific letter acknowledges although NYU has condemned the BDS movement, the university has yet to adequately denounce the discriminatory statement and address how the vitriol has affected the NYU community, according to a joint statement by the three organizations.

The letter states, “Unless you condemn the statement and clarify to students that they are expected to maintain a tolerant, inclusive campus environment during the coming year, we fear that the bigoted, hateful environment initiated at NYU in 2017-2018 will continue to fester and grow, and put your university at risk of violating Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964,” which prohibits discrimination based on color, race or national origin in any program or activity that receives federal assistance.

“Unless the NYU administration takes a stand against the discriminatory, hateful environment created by anti-Israel activists in the NYU student government last year, we are deeply concerned for pro-Israel NYU students in the year ahead and for further, unchecked violations of NYU policy,” said SWU CEO Roz Rothstein.

“Alums for Campus Fairness is deeply troubled by NYU’s lack of response to these discriminatory actions,” said ACF executive director Avi Gordon. “As an organization that represents over 400 alumni at NYU, it is our hope that they will heed our call for change.”

Alyza Lewin, president and general counsel of LDB, said “if Catholic students were told they had to disavow the Vatican before they could engage with other members of the student body, everyone would agree that it would be blatant discrimination. This is no different. It is incumbent upon the NYU administration to condemn such bias and intolerance in the most forceful terms at the outset of the new school year to ensure that pro-Israel students are not excluded, and that they feel safe on campus.”

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