Cowardice at CUNY

If 80 percent of success is showing up, then the chancellor of the City University of New York, has earned in respect of antisemitism a failing grade

Via Wikimedia Commons
The College of the City of New York, flagship of the CUNY system. Via Wikimedia Commons

If 80 percent of success is showing up, as is sometimes said, then the chancellor of the City University of New York, Félix Matos Rodríguez, has earned in respect of antisemitism a failing grade. He failed to show for a daylong hearing on antisemitism at his institution. Mr. Rodríguez failed to respond to a request for comment. He resembles a pupil who has not done his homework and is too much of a coward to come to class. 

This was well marked by the Republican nominee for governor of New York, Representative Lee Zeldin, who aced this particular exam. “For too long,” he declared, “CUNY leadership has looked the other way, empowering antisemitism to expand within its ranks.” He also noted that Mr. Rodríguez had previously asked for the hearing before the City Council Committee on Higher Education to be moved to accommodate his schedule. 

Last month, Governor Hochul told the American Jewish Committee of her “moral responsibility to protect” New York’s Jews as part of pursuing “a world free of hate.” Yet her actual actions, or lack thereof, have been disappointing. It seems to us that she has a fiduciary responsibility, in that it is taxpayer monies that fund at CUNY what increasingly resembles campus culture at a German university in the 1930’s.

At CUNY’s law school, the faculty has unanimously approved a BDS resolution. The commencement speaker said in a video on YouTube that “abolishing Israel is the key to peace.” The Jewish Telegraphic Agency conveyed the testimony of a pupil whose classmate told him that “all Jews are rich, control the world” and “Israelis kill babies.” The Jerusalem Post noted that a CUNY adjunct claimed that Muslims will “erase this filth called Israel.”

A union representing 30,000 CUNY employees endorsed a resolution last year blaming Israel for the “massacre of Palestinians.” The New York Post records a professor, Leonard Goldstein, stating “it is horrible for Jews at CUNY” and added that a Councilman, Eric Dinowitz, reported cases of students hearing “We need Hitler again” and being subjected to “jokes about Jews in ovens.” 

The heroine of this tale is Councilwoman Inna Vernikov, who spearheaded the hearing. She was born in Ukraine, and is a Republican representing Brooklyn. Ms. Vernikov labeled Mr. Rodriguez’s absence a “sham” and “an insult to the Jewish community of New York.” She went on to ask “When it comes to Jews, do Jewish lives matter?!” She pulled $50,000 — chicken feed — in funding for CUNY Law following its BDS vote.

It is worth noting the Jews of CUNY enduring this onslaught are by and large not of extravagant means. Their parents perhaps do not have the bank accounts to send them to New York University, or Columbia, not to mention Yale or Harvard. They most likely do not live on the Upper East Side. Many of them, like Ms. Vernikov, hail from what was a Soviet empire of terror. This is punching down, not up. 

Maybe she can figure out why the state is failing to enforce Executive Order 157, which was signed under Governor Cuomo, and directs State entities “to divest all public funds supporting the Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions campaign against Israel.” When he signed it, Mr. Cuomo stated “If you boycott Israel, New York will boycott you.” That should first and foremost apply to the city’s own universities.

The New York Sun

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