A spokeswoman for the Professional Staff Congress, the faculty union at the City University of New York, told Inside Higher Ed that “dozens” of faculty members have quit the union after last month’s resolution that strongly criticizing Israel’s role in Operation Guardian of the Walls in May (Division in CUNY Faculty Union).
Among other fairly despicable and terribly biased things, the resolution declared: “Whereas Israel’s pattern and practice of dispossession and expansion of settlements, dating back to its establishment as a settler-colonial state in 1948, has been found to be illegal under international law, international human rights organizations such as Human Rights Watch and B’Tselem have designated these practices of Israel as ‘apartheid’ and a regime of legalized racial discrimination perpetrated against the Palestinian people…”
Eugene M. Chudnovsky, Distinguished Professor of Physics at Lehman College and the Graduate School of CUNY, told IHE he took offense at calling Israel “a settler-colonial state.”
“Many CUNY faculty and students – including those, Jewish and non-Jewish, who criticize both sides – see the assertion that Jews are not the indigenous people of the land of Israel as anti-Semitic, an assault on Jewish heritage,” Chudnovsky said.
The resolution said that the Professional Staff Congress “condemns the massacre of Palestinians by the Israeli state” and calls on other union chapters to “facilitate discussions at the chapter level of the content of this resolution and consider PSC support of the 2005 call for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) – a movement launched by 170 Palestinian unions, refugee networks, women’s organizations, professional associations, and other Palestinian civil society organizations.”
Ilya Bratman, executive director of Hillel at Baruch, City and John Jay Colleges, pointed out that the union never condemned the pervasive human rights violations in China or Syria. “This is about anti-Semites pushing an agenda,” he told IHE.
Bratman posted a counter-statement online (CUNY Community Statement Encouraging Mutual Respect and Engagement Towards a Just Middle East Peace and a CUNY Free of Harassment), signed by more than 2,500 individuals, saying the one-sided union resolution “seeks to shut down discussion by condemning Israel for defending itself.”
“The inflammatory language of this statement creates a hostile environment at CUNY, particularly for Jewish students, many of whom have been threatened and harassed by activists who seek to delegitimize Israel. It is CUNY’s responsibility to ensure the security and safety for all students,” the statement said, adding, “We, therefore, reject calls for an academic or cultural boycott of Israel and urge the CUNY community to engage in informed, respectful, and civil conversation on conflicts at home, in the Middle East, and around the world. The university must make the safety of students a priority so that verbal threats do not lead to physical violence when students return to campus this fall.”