Recent incidents at the CUNY School of Law have been cause for enormous concern and doubt as to the school’s commitment to an inclusive, safe learning environment. In addition to a faculty council endorsement of the antisemitic Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions campaign on May 12th, on the following day, CUNY Law featured an antisemitic address by an individual known for glorifying and encouraging hatred and violence for its commencement ceremony. Amidst record levels of antisemitic violence in New York, CUNY Law has unfortunately shown itself to be a part of the problem.
The commencement speaker, Nerdeen Mohsen Kiswani, called for the destruction of the Jewish state, which he slanderously labels a “fascist settler-colonial regime.” Using classic antisemitic rhetoric, Kiswani condemned a recent trip to Israel by CUNY administrators because, she claimed, it “normalizes Israel’s colonization and murder of the Palestinian people.” Notably, just days earlier Kiswani herself used Instagram to show support for a celebration of the murder (or in the mocking words of the post: “the independence of their soul from their body”) of three innocent civilians in a gun and axe attack. Under what circumstances is it acceptable to platform someone who so openly spreads hatred and glorifies violence?
Particularly shocking was the admiration of CUNY faculty for Kiswani’s hateful diatribe against Israel at the graduation, followed by their endorsement of the discriminatory Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions campaign calling for CUNY to institutionalize the hatred spread by BDS supporters like Kiswani. Let’s be clear: BDS’s anti-Jewish and anti-normalization tactics have no place in an academic setting.
We call upon Professor Sudha Setty, the incoming Dean at the CUNY Law School to take a firm stand against intimidation and antisemitism. Setty and CUNY administrators must begin by thoroughly investigating incidents of antisemitism.