Israel

Ban Pro-Palestinian Group from CUNY Campuses, 35 NY Lawmakers Say

Bipartisan gaggle of politicians equate incendiary political speech on campus with "intimidation."

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New York State Assemblymen Dov Hikind and

Hate speech or free speech?
Wikipedia

David Weprin, both Democrats, penned a letter last week (co-signed by a bipartisan group of 33 state lawmakers) to the chancellor of the City University of New York (CUNY) demanding the suspension of the pro-Palestinian activist group Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) from all CUNY campuses.

Accusing SJP of orchestrating a campaign of "intimidation and fear" against Jewish students, the letter demanded the "toxic" organization which denies "Jewish history and legitimacy" be immediately shut down. CUNY responded by launching an investigation into alleged incidents of anti-Semitic harassment, including what the right-wing Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) described in a letter to CUNY as incidents of students "being pushed, spat upon and having objects thrown at them."

But, the Forward reports, ZOA's letter is "vague as to when and where several of the most clearly anti-Semitic episodes took place, and as to what witnesses are making the charges."

In an extensive investigation published last week, the Forward found that there is indeed some evidence of anti-Semitism on CUNY campuses, but no clear connection that SJP is behind any of it. Further, regarding some of the cases of alleged harassment, "the question is one of semantics — whether public expressions against 'Zionism' or 'Zionists' constitute anti-Semitism."

Of one protest led by SJP: 

The ZOA letter claims that protesters were also shouting "Jews out of CUNY!" It's a call heard nowhere on the video. But this discrepancy and arguments over it may miss a bigger issue.

What are the protesters actually demanding when they chant "Zionists out of CUNY?"

First, there is the worst possible implication — which is the one that at least some Jewish students heard. Asked if by 'Zionists out of CUNY,' her group actually meant that Jews, or non-Jews, who identify as Zionists should not be allowed to get, or give, an education at CUNY, Nerdeen Kiswani, vice president of SJP's chapter at Hunter, who said she was leading those chants, noted that they were "protesting the ideology of Zionism — not people."

The College Fix quotes Assemblyman Weprin as saying, "Hate Speech is not Free Speech and I call on CUNY to keep their campuses hate-free by taking concrete action on SJP." Equating anti-Zionism with hate speech is not confined to New York. As we've noted at Reason, the University of California's (UC) board of regents has recently voted to ban "anti-Zionism" on campus.

Even if "anti-Zionism" is motivated by religious hatred or racial animus (which is arguable and difficult to prove in many cases), hate speech is indeed protected free speech, and incendiary political speech (the kind favored by activists on both sides of the Israel/Palestine conflict) is the most protected speech.

If any group engages in organized physical harassment on campus, that organization deserves to lose its right to officially engage in campus life. But short of that, even what Assemblyman Hikind describes as the "malicious rhetoric" of a group that disagrees with his worldview deserves the First Amendment protections afforded to groups like Hillel, the Jewish student group whose CEO, Fmr. Congressman Eric Fingerhut (D-Ohio), demanded that debates over Israel within his own organization take place "within the context of a love of Israel, an unequivocal support of Israel."

"Unequivocal support of Israel" offends plenty of people, and a case could be made that such a position "de-legitimizes" the Palestinian people's right to self-determination. But it's unimaginable that a group of US lawmakers would demand the removal of a group like Hillel from campus primarily because of their political beliefs, just as the notion that SJP be removed from campus for their beliefs should be considered an untenable proposal. 

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  1. Hate Speech is not Free Speech and I call on CUNY to keep their campuses hate-free by taking concrete action on SJP.”

    YES. IT. IS.

    FUCK. OFF. SLAVER.

    1. Hate speech should certainly not be entitled to constitutional protection, any more than trolling, impersonating, or distributing inappropriately deadpan “parody confessions” in the name of a distinguished university president or department chairman. Everyone knows there is no place for such forms of “free expression” on our college campuses. This is a point that should be emphasized, contrary to the outrageous “First Amendment dissent” of a single liberal judge in New York’s leading criminal “satire” case. See the documentation at:

      http://raphaelgolbtrial.wordpress.com/

      Let me repeat: the “First Amendment” foolishness of this “dissenting” judge should be roundly condemned and rapidly forgotten. Furthermore, everyone should join in applauding the further measures currently being taken in this regard in the New York State Senate:

      http://tinyurl.com/senate-troll-bill

  2. Ban taxpayers money from campus, says I.

  3. Calling everything hate speech is hate speech.

  4. My brother-in-law used to work for the ZOA. That’s not something that makes them look good at all.

    Anyways, you have to try to look like bigger morons than the BDS pushers, but you’ve managed to do it, people. Congrats.

  5. My favorite part of the ‘hate speech doesn’t equal free speech’ argument is that according to Israel supporters, Israel opponents are engaged in anti-Semitic hate speech, but according to Israel opponents, Israel supporters are engaged in Islamophobic hate speech.

    I guess we should not legally be allowed to talk about Israel.

    1. What’s the first rule of Israel Club?
      You don’t talk about Israel Club.
      What’s the Second rule of Israel Club?
      You don’t talk about Israel Club

    2. What’s the first rule of Israel Club?
      You don’t talk about Israel Club.
      What’s the Second rule of Israel Club?
      You don’t talk about Israel Club

      1. Damn zionist squirrels.

    3. Is that your final solution to the problem?

      /runs for the door.

  6. This SJW-on-SJW conflict was bound to happen. I say we sit back and watch.

    1. Now that’s a libertarian moment I can get behind!

      1. Euphemisms, abstract, etc.

    2. This Menshevik-on-Bolshevik conflict was bound to happen. I say we sit back and watch.

      /H&R commenter, 1914

  7. The Palestinian groups are engaged in promoting a “lost cause” as much as any neo-Confederate.

    1. While the current plight of the Palestinians is regrettable, I do not understand why Palestinians are favored over the countless other ethnicities/nationalities that lost their homelands in the past 100 years.

      Do the Germans who used to live in the Czech Republic, Poland, etc., also deserve a Right of Return? If no, why not? Because they happened to speak the same language as Hitler and some non-negligible percentage supported the Nazis’ aggression against everybody else… so fuck them?

      Indeed, the only reason the Palestinians’ current plight is regrettable is because there has been zero — ZERO — effort to integrate these Arabs into the countries to which they fled following the formation of Israel. The other Arab countries purposefully kept Palestinians in the refugee camps for decades, using scenes of hopelessness to support totalitarian regimes.

      1. Agree on all counts.

      2. The Russians are sponsoring a kind of reverse right of return in their former empire.

        Only its not the former Russians moving to Russia. Its Russia moving to them.

  8. You know who else’s worldview deserves the First Amendment protections afforded to groups like Hillel?

    1. Libertarians? I kid, of course…

  9. The people who call everything racist are late to the game. People have been calling every little thing antisemitism years before the everything is racist campaign came around.

  10. Isn’t it time to amend Godwin’s Law to provide that the first person in a debate who accuses the other side of “hate speech” automatically loses?

    1. That’s racist. Not cool.

      /prog

      1. TRIGGER WARNING NEEDED!

        “Cool” is how rapists behave in order to lure their victims/survivors into positions in which they can be victimized/made into rape survivors. Use of that word can therefore trigger flashbacks to rapes.

        1. Your caps lock is a microaggression upon whatever victimized group I may happen to belong to.

  11. RE: Ban Pro-Palestinian Group from CUNY Campuses, 35 NY Lawmakers Say

    Please do not ban pro-palesinian groups from CUNY campuses.
    We could all use a good laugh.

  12. If a couple New York pols want to stamp out anti-Semitism maybe they should start with the UN.

  13. Fuckin’ free speech, how does it work?

    Evidently, very few people in positions of power know.

  14. whether public expressions against ‘Zionism’ or ‘Zionists’ constitute anti-Semitism.

    Considering a lot of Jews are critical of Zionism and/or its implementation, especially the Orthodox (albeit for spiritual rather than political reasons), this conflation is especially specious.

  15. “it’s unimaginable that a group of US lawmakers would demand the removal of a group like Hillel from campus primarily because of their political beliefs”

    Than I’m afraid you have a fairly limited imagination.

    I’m quite confident that many BDSM* supporters would like to suppress Hillel.

    Or has the pro-Palestinian crowd suddenly become open-minded and tolerant, and I missed it?

    Suppressing the BDSM people will become an instant precedent for suppressing pro-Israel people. For balance.

    * misspelling is deliberate

  16. The proper response to disagreeable speech is more speech, preferably of a scornful, mocking, ridiculing type. Of course, that will put the Palestinian supporters at a distinct disadvantage.

  17. The rhomites here believe it is groovy for the Students for [in]justice for Palestine (Arab Palestinians are a phony people just as it is phony that “Reason Magazine” has anything to do with reason) to assault and intimidate Jews on any college campus. Of course, now the Rhomites are mad that Jews try to defend themselves, just as the Rhomites of “Reason Magazine” go crazy when Israel tries to defend herself against your camel fucking heroes — the Arabs. However, antisemites should be dealt with harshly. We have a fifth amendment here, but Israel does not and hopefully a Kahanist inspired government in Israel will take care of the antisemites. If not for you antisemites we Jews would number 100 million — not the paltry few million we have today.

    “There’s no need to fear. Underzog is here.”
    Oid Kahane Chai (Rabbi Kahane lives)

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