NYC’s University System Must Stop Professor’s Antisemitic Silencing
CUNY must explicitly defend freedom of speech and punish those who wish to extinguish it.
New York has the world’s largest diasporic Jewish population, yet its public university system has a long-standing antisemitism problem so pronounced that it inspired both federal and statewide legislation this year. Last month it was reported that, following a City University of New York (CUNY) law-student commencement speech featuring an anti-Zionist blood-libel rant, future ceremonies will not include student speakers. And two weeks ago, Governor Kathy Hochul announced that, next spring, an independent reviewer will issue recommendations for antisemitism policy at CUNY.
But for silenced Israeli-born fine-arts professor Tamy Ben-Tor, next spring is not soon enough, banning all speakers is too broad, and potential legislation is too vague. Right now, CUNY’s Hunter College Master of Fine Arts program is sending Ben-Tor and others a clear lesson: Supporting Hamas is okay; mocking that support is not.
In a parody video posted to Ben-Tor’s personal social-media account following Hamas’s brutal October 7 attacks, she says, “Dear Hamas freedom fighters: I’d like to start by acknowledging that I just had a cappuccino on the land of the Lenape People.” The three-minute video lampoons those who broadcast their piety — denouncing cruelty to Native Americans, LGBTQ people, and animals — but are “on the fence about the massacre of the babies.” As Ben-Tor notes, after all, “They were colonizing babies. They were Zionist babies.”
Photo by Fatih Aktas/Anadolu via Getty Images