Queens lawmaker calls out SUNY Binghamton students for antisemitism

Debate Over Anti-Israel Stance at NYC School
Councilmembers voted to honor one of Queens’ most prominent political dynasties with a new street co-naming on Feb. 2.
NYS Assembly

As pro-Palestinian protests rage on at Columbia University, students at another New York school are in hot water due to their anti-Israel stance being a violation of state law.

Assembly Member David Weprin (D-Queens) took the student association at SUNY Binghamton University in upstate New York to task for passing a resolution that “stops the organization from doing business with companies that financially support the Israeli government.”

Weprin, whose district includes much of northeastern Queens, said the resolution is illegal — citing an 8-year-old New York state executive order that says public funds are not to support boycotts and similar actions against Israel. 

On April 18, Weprin — the co-president of the National Association of Jewish Legislators New York Chapter — along with Assembly Member Charles Lavine (D-Nassau County) sent a joint letter to SUNY Chancellor John King on Thursday, April 18, urging him to take action. Specifically, he wants the association to withdraw its resolution or the chancellor to rescind the group’s charter.

“Effective June 15, 2016, New York State Executive Order 157 mandates that state entities divest all public funds that support the Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions campaign against Israel, America’s ally,” the letter states. 

The assembly members also said in the letter that the students should have done proper research about local laws surrounding the issue before announcing the resolution. 

The cynical action leads us to wonder why the association would engage in such rash and ill-advised action without doing the most basic research into its legal authority to so act,” the letter states. “Perhaps the emotion of the moment got the better of those who advanced and voted to support the resolution. This at a time when cooler heads need to prevail.”

Weprin said he has not yet heard back from King since he sent the letter.

It is unclear right now how much – if any – public funds support the student association. 

When amNew York Metro reached out to SUNY Binghamton’s communications team for comment, a spokesperson said the student association works independently from the school, and its views “do not represent the university administration’s views.”

The spokesperson also said the university stands with “Governor Hochul and SUNY in condemning the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign.”

SUNY Chancellor ‘sympathetic’ to Israel 

Although Weprin is still awaiting a response to his letter, he said King has been “sympathetic” in the past to supporting Israel. 

“I know the chancellor personally has been very supportive of fighting antisemitism and students who have been threatened for supporting Israel,” Weprin said. “I think the chancellor is certainly sympathetic to supporting Israel.”

Weprin called the resolution “misguided” and wants King to talk to the students, in addition to removing the resolution. 

“I’d like to have the chancellor tell the student association that there are consequences for calling for what would be an illegal action under New York state law,” Weprin said. 

Weprin and Lavine’s letter also allude to the association using the word “genocide” as an antisemitic remark in the context of the war in Gaza. 

“Alternatively, there are certainly some who now find it most convenient to use the word genocide as an antisemitic trope in the context of the Gaza conflict,” the letter goes on to say. 

Protests at Yale University

Also making headlines for anti-Israel views over the weekend into Monday is Yale University in New Haven, Conn.

According to media reports including NBC Connecticut, police arrested nearly 50 pro-Palestinian protesters after they refused to leave the Ivy League school’s campus plaza. 

Images in the New York Post showed the Palestinian flag on campus hanging without an American flag, as well as signs that read messages such as “Yale Corp Divest From War. ”

The arrests and protests at Yale come just days after the NYPD arrested more than 100 students at Columbia University for occupying the campus’ great lawn and refusing to leave in support of Palestine, calling for the school’s divestment in entities supporting Israel amid the war in Gaza. 

In the latest Columbia developments, a professor — known for his harsh views of pro-Palestinian supporters – was denied entry into the campus on Monday, the same day the school announced classes would be held virtually to “de-escalate the rancor” on the grounds, according to a statement from Minouche Shafik, the university’s president. 

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