Photo Credit: Marc Gronich
Illustrative photo: Councilwoman Inna Vernikov speaking at a rally against anti-Semitism in January 2022 in Brooklyn.

A New York City Councilmember has cut $50,000 in funding to CUNY over the issue of antisemitims.

Councilmember Inna Vernikov (R) of the 48th District withdrew her support from the School of Law Justice and Auxiliary Service due to continued antisemitism that has permeated the City University of New York.

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The School of Law Justice and Auxiliary Service has been providing pro-bono legal assistance to hundreds of constituents of Council District 48 for over fifteen years; and “they have been doing so with exceptional skill, dedication, and integrity,” Vernikov said.

The program, which operates out of CUNY School of Law and is staffed by its alumni, receives funding from the city of New York at the discretion of Councilmembers.

Vernikov is the largest funder of the program, and said she had planned to continue allocating $50,000 due to the wide use of the service by her constituents.

In recent years, however, City University of New York campuses have become hotbeds for Antisemitism and anti-Israel sentiment.

Visibly Jewish and pro-Israel students no longer feel safe to express their views at their colleges, and many are concerned about their physical safety.

“CUNY School of Law has become an egregious example of that reality,” Vernikov lamented.

For this year’s graduation ceremony, the law school’s student body elected a radical, antisemitic activist Nerdeen Kiswani to deliver the commencement speech.

Kiswani has previously called for the “death of Zionists” and Israel’s destruction. “The content of her speech is similar to displays of Nazi propaganda that can be found in Yad VaShem, Israel’s major Holocaust museum,” Vernikov said in a statement.

In addition, on May 12, CUNY Law professors and student government voted to endorse “BDS” – the international campaign to boycott, divest from, and sanction the State of Israel.

“BDS targets the Jewish State with defamatory allegations of “human rights abuses” and the ‘unceasing military occupation and colonization of Palestine,’ and attempts to prevent entities from having any ties to Israel – the US’s closest ally and only democracy in the Middle East,” she said.

“This move is not only defamatory and antisemitic, but it is hypocritical in nature. CUNY has never passed a resolution to boycott any other country in the world, as there are countries who actually commit atrocious human rights violations, including but not limited to genocide, rape, torture, and persecution.”

At a time when antisemitic hate crimes are up by 300 percent, Vernikov said it is incumbent upon the city’s academic institutions to do everything in their power to protect their Jewish and pro-Israel students, “not pass resolutions which directly place them in harm’s way.

“It seems as if antisemitism is the only politically acceptable form of racism which exists. We must stop handing out free passes to antisemites like candy,” the councilmember said.

She added that she has reallocated the funding to a different organization, saying that he has pulled funding from the program and redirected it to Legal Services NYC.

“There is a direct link between antisemitic speech and violence that follows. I cannot, in good conscience, continue to allocate $50,000 to a program affiliated with ardent antisemites and haters of the State of Israel,” Vernikov said.

“We hope CUNY and all universities hear this message loud and clear: there should be ZERO tolerance for hate and antisemitism on every university campus.”

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.