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Anti-Israel Activists Again Try to Shut Down Pro-Israel Speakers at City University of New York

Anti-Israel Activists Again Try to Shut Down Pro-Israel Speakers at City University of New York

Dec. 8 incident – the latest of many examples of anti-Israelism/anti-Semitism at CUNY – typifies the sickness in American higher education.

Protestors disrupted a December 8 panel discussion about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict at City University of New York Graduate Center, in what has become the standard operating procedure for anti-Israel partisans.

The disruption highlights the academy’s corruption from a place of objective knowledge-seeking into one of subjective faith-protecting; the kind of place that would rather try Galileo for heresy than study or teach Copernican theories. More specifically, it’s but the most recent example in a now long line of anti-Semitic (masquerading as anti-Israel) incidents at CUNY.

President of the CUNY Graduate Center Robin Garrell introduced the event, which was hosted by multiple academic departments across the CUNY system, and co-sponsored by the CUNY Academy for the Humanities and Sciences and a new faculty-spearheaded Antisemitism Education Initiative at CUNY. The protestors were apparently seated in the audience when they rose up en masse, came up in front of the podium, and began shrieking and handing out flyers accusing Israel of “occupation”, “censorship”, and “genocide”. After about fifteen minutes, members of the New York Police Department came into the room and escorted the disruptors out.

The event was entitled, “A Conversation on the Language of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.” It was meant to explore the transformation of Israel – once considered by the academy and progressive left to be a model for self-sacrifice and redemption – into a nation accused of heinous human rights abuses and of sustaining itself as an outdated remnant of thoroughly delegitimized colonial order.

Miriam Elman, executive director of Academic Engagement Network (AEN) and an event panelist, explained:

How that change took hold in the academy can be understood, at least in part, by the abused and misused vocabulary that is now baked-in to the study of Israel and its conflict with the Palestinians in a majority of disciplines in the Humanities and softer Social Sciences. My panelists and I were going to discuss this flawed language and the ways that concepts and terms like apartheid, genocide, ethnic cleansing, Zionism, have been unmoored from their historical understandings, as well as the negative impact it’s had on the campus climate for Jewish students, faculty, and staff.

Turns out the protestors, who then went on to orchestrate a full-blown disruption of our event with the goal of silencing us, perfectly proved our point! Their obnoxious and incendiary flyers, which they distributed to the attendees during the opening reception, did a great job of showcasing how the very words hurled by anti-Israel activists amount to a “crime” against language itself, even as they seek to demoralize and ostracize Jews on campus.

It’s clear that the groups that tried so hard to shut down the event haven’t the slightest interest in behaving in ways consistent with CUNY’s values or the student code of conduct. Even as they were being led out of the room by the police, the panel moderator – a CUNY professor who chairs the Judaic Studies Department at Brooklyn College, graciously invited them to stay to ask questions at the end, to which they responded, “we have no questions.” It’s disheartening to see college students who are so utterly disrespectful of their university’s mission.

Another panelist, executive director of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East Asaf Romirowsky, echoed Elman’s comments about the sickness within the academy:

The attempt to shut down our panel conversation was yet another illustration of cancel culture coming from individuals who used banners of “Zionism out of CUNY,” accusing Israel of “occupation”, “censorship”, and “genocide”.

All of the above illustrates that, rather than seeking discourse and a free exchange of ideas – which is what actual debate means – the preference is to wear blinders and promote propaganda and ignorance. These all go against the entire framework of the Western university and should alarm everyone regarding the quality and type of education our institutions are promoting.

Positively, the event did go forward after protesters were removed and the faculty who organized the event should be commended for their commitment and courage to scholarship and academic integrity.

One of the things that is so sad about the disgraceful effort to shout down opposing views is the open support of this content moderation effort from CUNY assistant professor Diana B. Greenwald, who offered her “what-aboutist” rationalization for the attempted shutdown via Twitter.

Panelist Donna Robinson Divine, Professor of Jewish Studies at Smith College, reflected on her own previous experiences with the closing of the American academy’s mind:

Almost a decade ago, I listened to scholars at the annual American Historical Association conference accuse Israel of closing off access to the record of its genocide in the 1948 war. Since I am a firm believer that no question is too sacred to be investigated, I started to put together a panel of the heads of the major archives in Israel – State, Military and Zionist – to engage this very question. But when I asked the scholars who leveled the charge to join the discussion, they all refused citing their commitment to BDS. They preferred the narrative and were even willing to dismiss the possibility that they could collect the evidence to turn their charges into a real indictment.

For that reason, I was determined to interrogate the narrative and so I asked Miriam Elman and Asaf Romirowsky to help put together the special issue of Israel Studies called WORD CRIMES: Reclaiming the Language of the Israeli Palestinian Conflict. Various groups at CUNY approached us to see if we would talk about the volume. The group interrupting us passed out flyers with wrong information about each of us, cherry picking statements we had made. For example, they described me as a revisionist historian. [Divine has a Ph.D. in political science and taught politics, not history.] They mentioned that I described Israel as a Zionist success. I did. But what they neglected to say was that I drew the criteria for the success of a political society from Rousseau’s Social Contract where he emphasizes demographic growth.

These kinds of protests degrade the academy by closing down discussions and debates devaluing knowledge and replacing analysis and research with catchy slogans. To believe that this helps Palestinians is delusional.

Sadly, the most surprising thing about the interruption is that police did remove the protestors and the event did go forward after just fifteen minutes of delay, instead of the event being canceled entirely as has become a common occurrence at university and pro-Israel events generally.

The event is but the latest in a long line of anti-Semitic and anti-Zionist conduct at CUNY. Check out LIF’s previous coverage at:

UPDATE: We received the following communication from Tanya Domi, Director, Media Relations, Office of Communications, CUNY Graduate Center:

The NYPD, nor the CUNY Public safety officers did not escort students out of the event, contrary to your reporting. The students left of their own volition, quietly. Thanks for your attention to this correction.

I’m not sure what the distinction is between NYPD or CUNY public safety officers “escorting” disruptive students out of the event, as Algemeiner reported, or disruptive students being “led” away by police, as Miriam Elman related; versus students ‘leaving quietly of their own volition after police show up,’ as CUNY insists. -JM


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Antisemitism is the practice of the left. This proves it, because all leftists cannot tolerate free speech and have to cancel/censor free speech, because they have no arguments and cannot debate logically or intelligently.

They are infantile, in other words, and racist/antisemitic as well.

Enough of these brat ‘protesters’. A boy and a girl hold up a banner and shout down the speaker. I’m sure I saw a ‘male’ or two in the audience. How about one of you grab that damn banner, slap that bratty girl silly and drop that boy with his raised fist to the floor in a puddle of blood. Let EMS have him. If these lefty brats are to be stopped, then stop them. Enough.

    gibbie in reply to Whitewall. | December 13, 2022 at 9:34 am

    “How about one of you grab that damn banner, slap that bratty girl silly and drop that boy with his raised fist to the floor in a puddle of blood.”

    Sadly, this is exactly what the lefty brats want to happen.

    How about CUNY expelling the disrupters?

    How about CUNY alumni stop donating, and parents stop sending their children there?


    Defund the left.

      Whitewall in reply to gibbie. | December 13, 2022 at 9:45 am

      Yep, but they won’t. We are in a struggle that is not partisan fighting, if we were, that banner most likely would not have been unfurled. We are in ideological warfare that has now advanced to ideological elimination. I’ve seen that before a long time ago. Disruptors like these need to lose their air of impunity when they contemplate their next event. They need to be trained to hesitate, to look over their shoulder. They need to feel a sense of fear. Without it they don’t stop. Unfortunate but it is reality in this kind of war. I hate it has come to it but it has. Enough.

      The Gentle Grizzly in reply to gibbie. | December 13, 2022 at 10:02 am

      “Sadly, this is exactly what the lefty brats want to happen.”

      For the short term, yes. But, spitting out blood and pieces of broken teeth can drive a message home like few other things, Same with jaws wired shut while they heal. Same with permanent limps from having knees kicked in.

      In my view, it is FAR past time for caring what the troublemakers may think. They taunt and shout and do other things because they know no-one will act against them.

        I don’t advocate hitting them – yet.
        Instead, merely pick them up and remove them from your event. Throw them over your shoulder and carry them out. It’s a reasonable response to trespass.

        Of course, that might get them angry enough to swing at you. THEN you can punch them.

      Exactly correct. The Left has training materials and classes on just exactly how far to push their obnoxious encounters without breaking the law. The Westborough Church Which Shall Not Be Named Because They Have A Google Alert And A Tendency To Sue used to do exactly the same thing, and made the vast majority of their income off that scam.

    docduracoat in reply to Whitewall. | December 13, 2022 at 9:54 am

    To Whitewall,
    I admit that would be satisfying.
    To slap the heckler and see them cry and run away.
    And return with a cop who would arrest you for the crime of battery.
    Because striking someone who is only yelling at you is an actual crime.

      And it’s a crime because of the Progressive twisting of “proportionality’ to allow them to do just about anything, while you’re limited to just standing there and taking it.

      Whitewall in reply to docduracoat. | December 13, 2022 at 11:21 am

      Quite possible, but then the enemy doesn’t mind heckling and assaulting a speaker and his faculty sponsor to the point of physical injury. They don’t mind acting out any way they want to even if they are punished by the law. For them it is a badge of honor. Same when they take to the streets to assault and intimidate decent people. When the cops show up, lefties will willingly sit down, link arms and wait to be zip tied and hauled away. No hesitation. That and more is what they are willing to do. How about us? Enough.

I’m so sick and tired of obnoxious Muslim supremacists/terrorist supporters and their non-Muslim, useful idiot, Dhimmi-crat allies, engaging in their utterly contemptible Jew-hate and vilification/slander campaign against Israel and Israeli Jews, while simultaneously whitewashing, excusing and rationalizing the belligerent, self-destructive and pathology-laden behavior of Arab Muslim supremacists/terrorists.

Make no mistake, that the pervasiveness and brazenness with which this Jew-hate and Israel-hate manifests itself in contemporary academia is a direct result of the morally bankrupt Dhimmi-crat Party’s willful and evil decision to gleefully welcome Jew-haters/Israel-haters within its party tent.

We need Kanye West to lead these things so that we can get the Leftists to hate themselves.

Any analogy with the Palestinian and Greater Arab cause vs. Israel is purely; well, purely on point and the result of the same perspective.

A_Cornell_Alumnus | December 13, 2022 at 4:50 pm

They should be publicly shamed and subjected to contempt and derision.

Perhaps more to the point is to photograph and video them using telephoto lenses, and post their pictures, names, and school affiliations all over the Internet for the benefit of prospective employers in the US. Make them unemployable here and they’ll have to go back to wherever they came from. Let whoever might even think of hiring them see and hear them screeching like monkeys while they violate university rules and possibly the law (CA has a law against this) and show clearly that they are unable, unwilling, and unfit to behave like civilized human beings. Not something you want in your workplace and/or interacting with your customers, is it?

Also post their names, pictures, and school affiliations next to a picture of screeching monkeys to drive home the point. “Here’s X, a student at CUNY, screeching like a monkey; when is he going to start throwing his poo?”

    There is a reason why the left chose the face masks as their new uniform and it has nothing to do with covid.

    The masks prevent them from being recognized and held responsible for their actions.

Any neutral observer trying to learn about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict should note that the side that always tries to silence the other is hardly on the right side of the issue. The pro-Palestinians cannot make a coherent case, so they disrupt any and all pro-Israel events. We see it in New York, we see it out here in California, and we see it in points in-between. These people are nothing but modern-day Brown Shirts.

Note that the disruptors are all wearing the leftist recognition/participation sign…. face masks.

At this point in history wearing a face mask is an indicator of political orientation almost as clear and obnoxious as swastika arm bands were in the 30s and 40s.

Jews,ֶ if you have young children, please leave. You might win some battles. But you will never win the war. History. Contact Nefesh B’Nefesh. They will help.

And liberal Jewish groups defend the presence of Omar on Congressional committees

This is one of the disadvantages of U.S. academies/academics (and I use the words advisedly) accepting large amounts of funding from nations strongly opposed to a tiny Jewish state in the middle of a Judenrein Islamic ocean.