Hunter College and Jewish organizations are condemning a pro-Palestinian student group for blaming tuition increases on the “Zionist administration” and for chanting “Long live the intifada” during a student rally protesting tuition hikes.
In a Facebook post announcing its participation in last Thursday night’s Million Student March, NYC Students for Justice in Palestine wrote: “The Zionist administration invests in Israeli companies, companies that support the Israeli occupation, hosts birthright programs and study abroad programs in occupied Palestine, and reproduces settler-colonial ideology throughout CUNY through Zionist content of education. While CUNY aims to produce the next generation of professional Zionists, SJP aims to change the university to fight for all peoples liberation.”
The post was signed by NYC Students for Justice in Palestine and the group’s chapters at Hunter College, Brooklyn College, St. Joseph’s College, the College of Staten Island, John Jay College, the CUNY School of Law, Pace University-Pleasantville, New York University and Columbia.
Hunter College quickly condemned the statements, with Chancellor James B. Milliken stating Friday that CUNY is “a place of inclusion, not exclusion.” While “free speech, debate and the open exchange of ideas” are essential, he said, “intolerant, hateful and bigoted speech, while it may be legally protected, is anathema to our values.”
“Those voices,” he added, “stop rather than encourage the dialogue and real debate that makes us stronger.”
The Million Student March is a national day of protest over tuition fees, student debt and wages for campus workers. This year, over 100 universities and colleges participated.
Other anti-Israel students also used the march to promote their agenda, with similar messages posted at Temple University and the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, according to the Anti-Defamation League, which commended the school for issuing a statement making clear that “invoking discriminatory language reeking of thinly veiled bigotry, prejudice, anti-Semitism or other behavior” is inconsistent with its mission.
UJA-Federation of New York was another group that protested the rhetoric and praised the college’s swift action, saying that “Students of all backgrounds deserve a campus experience that is free from intolerance and prejudice” and urging “all parties involved to disavow hateful language against other students and take appropriate measures to ensure this does not happen again.”