Op-ed | Fighting anti-Jew hatred and violence at CUNY schools

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File photo/Todd Maisel

The level of Jew-hatred is so bad that a hearing called “Examining Antisemitism on College Campuses” needs to take place. And in New York City no less, home of approximately 1.5 million Jews. Even the hearing, scheduled on June 30, is under attack from Jew-haters committed to cancelling it.

Recently, the New York City Council announced it is launching a probe into the incidents of hate and violence attacking Jews at City University of New York (CUNY) campuses. This is an issue that is incredibly concerning for Jewish students, who are oftentimes left out of important conversations because they simply believe in the right to Jewish self-determination, and Israel’s right to exist as an independent Jewish nation.

CUNY campuses have seen Jew-hatred flourish, such as anti-Jewish fliers, purposefully scheduling meetings on Jewish holidays and the Sabbath, hostility and violence toward Jewish students and Jewish groups, and concerted efforts to erase Jewish identity by denying the religious, ethnic, cultural, and historic connection of Jews to their indigenous homeland.

In 2020, a CUNY Law student literally threatened to burn a man wearing an IDF shirt, igniting a flame from a lighter. Not only was this student not punished, but she was allowed to speak at the 2022 CUNY Law commencement, where she claimed she was “facing a campaign of Zionist harassment by well-funded organizations with ties to the Israeli government and military.” She even attacked the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York for “normalizing” Jewish existence and the existence of the State of Israel.

Rallies frequently are held demanding to “globalize the Intifada,” to globalize violence against Jews. These anti-Jewish groups, such as BDS, call for resistance “by any means,” threatening Jews and anyone who supports Israel as a democratic nation. To these and many more incidents, the CUNY administration has not spoken up, but they did allow anti-Israel people speak up, including a CUNY professor who said he “can be sympathetic with the people who commit violent acts.”

Because of this, Jews are afraid of the repercussions of displaying their Jewishness, such as wearing a kippah head covering or a necklace with the Star of David, and are concerned for their safety when attending Jewish gatherings and events.

This is not acceptable. This is not how you promote peace and discussion in a professional environment. How is CUNY allowing this bullying to go on? What is being done to not only stop this Jew hatred, but to also prevent known Jew-haters from having a major platform under the CUNY banner?

This is why I, along with other Jewish activists, are speaking up. It is the right of every student to be safe and feel secure, to not be discriminated for who they are and their beliefs. It is time to liberate Jews from the hate-filled attacks and from the attackers. It is time for CUNY to step up.

On the day of the New York City Council hearing, I am calling on all New Yorkers to come together and join End Jew Hatred in this fight. It is about fighting for justice. Join me on June 30, at 9:15 am, near 250 Broadway in Manhattan, as we unite to support the civil rights of Jewish people. We must unite together to end Jew hatred on college campuses.

Yuval David is an Emmy-nominated actor, host, director and filmmaker who has won over 100 international film festival awards.