Jewish group blasted for honoring CUNY honcho Bill Thompson amid hate speech furor
Jewish activists are outraged after the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) awarded CUNY board chairman Bill Thompson with its annual Public Service Award at the New York Historical Society on Monday evening. Many are claiming that the decision is an insult to the Jewish community, particularly in light of an incendiary commencement speech delivered by CUNY law school graduate Fatima Mousa Mohammed which was widely considered to be anti-semitic. The JCRC, which describes itself as the primary Jewish communications agency in the city, have praised Thompson as “a dedicated advocate for diversity, innovation, and progress”. Thompson, a former city comptroller and mayoral candidate, has himself called Mohammed’s speech “hate speech.” Former 15-year CUNY board trustee Jeffrey Wiesenfeld has called for the JCRC to withdraw Thompson’s award, describing the decision as an “obsequious act against the Jewish community”.
What did Fatima Mousa Mohammed say in her commencement speech?
Fatima Mousa Mohammed accused Israel of “indiscriminate” murder upon worshippers, attacking funerals and graveyards, and encouraging “lynch mobs.” Mousa Mohammed also condemned CUNY for continuing “to train and cooperate with the fascist NYPD, the military,” and urged her fellow law graduates to “fight against capitalism, racism, imperialism and Zionism around the world.”
What is the JCRC?
The JCRC stands for the Jewish Community Relations Council. It’s a nonprofit advocacy and communication organization that promotes constructive relations within the Jewish community, between the Jewish and non-Jewish communities, and between local New York politicians and the community by ensuring that the Jewish community’s voice is heard on issues of importance to them.
What is the BDS movement?
The BDS movement, which stands for ‘boycott, divestment and sanctions’, is an international campaign that aims to exert economic and political pressure on Israel. It seeks to boycott Israeli companies and goods, and aims to pressure institutions to divest from funds and companies that do business with or in Israel. The campaign aims to put Israel under international isolation until it meets certain political demands.
What is the state Division of Human Rights probe into CUNY law school?
The probe was opened last year by the state Division of Human Rights to investigate whether CUNY’s School of Law discriminated against Jews when its faculty council passed a resolution supporting the BDS movement.
Jewish organization criticized for recognizing Bill Thompson, CUNY official, during controversy over hate speech.
Jewish activists are expressing their discontent with the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) for awarding CUNY board chairman Bill Thompson with the annual “Public Service Award” at its spring gala, despite complaints of antisemitism and hate speech on campus. The JCRC, self-described as New York City’s primary Jewish communications agency, is set to honor Thompson just weeks after CUNY law school graduate Fatima Mousa Mohammed delivered a commencement speech that was denounced as antisemitic. “We are proud to honor Bill Thompson, Jr. with this year’s Public Service Award. Bill has been a friend to the City of New York and to JCRC-NY for over three decades… and has been a dedicated advocate for diversity, innovation, and progress across the public and private sectors,” the organization said in a statement.
However, some Jewish activists are outraged at the decision to honor Thompson, who co-signed a statement criticizing Mohammed’s speech as “hate speech.” Former 15-year CUNY board trustee Jeffrey Wiesenfeld called the decision “an outrageous insult and obsequious act against the Jewish community,” and expressed anger that CUNY Law School Dean Sudha Setty and other administrators on stage during the graduation ceremony not only did not challenge or denounce Mohammed’s speech, but were seen applauding it.
Activists are planning to protest outside the JCRC gala, with a flier from Yad Yamin NY stating, “Jews are under attack@CUNY. Where is JCRC?” While the JCRC has criticized CUNY for not denouncing Mohammed’s comments as antisemitic, the organization also expressed disappointment that CUNY’s Board of Trustees did not use that specific term in their statement. The JCRC is urging CUNY to revise its commencement speech guidelines before next year’s graduation.
Before the recent commencement controversy, the state Division of Human Rights launched a probe into whether CUNY’s School of Law discriminated against Jews after its faculty council passed a resolution last year supporting the pro-Palestinian boycott, divest and sanction (BDS) movement targeting Israel. Last year, the City Council held a hearing on campus antisemitism, with CUNY Chancellor Felix Matos Rodriguez coming under criticism for not personally testifying. However, he has since established programs to address Jew hatred and other forms of discrimination. Thompson declined to comment on the matter.