Today, Palestine Legal sent a letter on behalf of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) at the City College of New York (CCNY) to Interim President Vincent Boudreau, expressing alarm over the administration’s response to a May event organized by Students Supporting Israel (SSI) and featuring Dani Dayan, Consul General of Israel in New York.
Despite Dayan’s record of racist, anti-Palestinian viewpoints, members of SJP who attended the lecture listened to Mr. Dayan deliver his full lecture, asked critical questions during the Q&A, and exited the lecture hall chanting “Free Palestine!” after Dayan announced the conclusion of the event.
In return, Dayan referred to critical questions by SJP members and supporters as “terrorism,” and SJP members faced racist harassment and physical attack by at least one member of SSI immediately after the event. The university has taken no action to support SJP members, the vast majority of whom are Muslim and Arab or South Asian.
Instead, Boudreau announced that the University will investigate baseless allegations about SJP members’ conduct made by the rightwing Zionist Organization of America and echoed in Zionist media reports.
Palestine Legal’s letter reminds CCNY of its legal obligations, noting:
There is considerable evidence in the public record of a pressure campaign by Israel advocacy organizations demanding that CCNY suppress student speech critical of Israel and favorable to Palestinian rights. This pressure campaign mirrors a similar campaign that led to a CUNY-wide independent investigation into SJP activism in 2016. The resulting report issued after that investigation cleared SJP of wrongdoing, and noted that “[p]olitical speech is often provocative and challenging, but that is why it is vital to university life.”
In the letter, Palestine Legal calls on the University to reaffirm the rights of all students, particularly members of SJP, to advocate for Palestinian rights. Palestine Legal also demands that any investigation into the incident be fair and transparent, and focus on misconduct by members of SSI.
Click here to read the letter.