Middle East Monitor / December 22, 2021
The student council of the City University of New York (CUNY) Law School has officially endorsed the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement and has called on the university to sever ties with Israeli academics and institutions.
A resolution accusing Israeli academic institutions of complicity in the occupation and colonization of Palestine and complicity with state violence against Palestinians was unanimously adopted by the College of Law Student Council.
“CUNY Law Student Government proudly and unapologetically endorses the Palestinian-led call for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel,” said the resolution sponsored by more than 20 groups including the National Lawyers Guild and International Law Society.
The resolution, agreed earlier this month, further called on “the institution to divest from and end contracts with all companies that aid in or profit from Israeli colonization, occupation, and war crimes.” Details of the university’s investment in firms complicit in Israeli occupation were included in the resolution.
CUNY is said to have close to $1.1 million invested in companies profiting from Israeli war crimes, including weapons manufacturers Boeing, General Electric, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and Raytheon.
Several other contracts by CUNY with firms complicit in the occupation were mentioned. In the fiscal year 2020-21, CUNY is reported to have had over $8.5 million in contracts “with companies that aid in or profit from Israeli colonization, occupation, and war crimes, including Dell, IBM, HP, Lenovo, Cisco, and BMC Software”.
The resolution accused CUNY of being “directly complicit in the ongoing apartheid, genocide, and war crimes perpetrated by the state of Israel against the Palestinian people through its academic collaborations with complicit Israeli academic institutions.”
CUNY has criticized the resolution and noted that student organizations “speak for themselves and the opinions or positions they express are entirely theirs and do not represent the views of CUNY or the majority of the 300,000 members of our community.”
Responding to accusations that the resolution is anti-Semitic, Nerdeen Kiswani, vice president of CUNY Law School Student Government Association and president of the school’s Students for Justice in Palestine chapter, said any talk of Palestinian liberation or human rights is often labelled anti-Semitic.
“We’ve seen accusations of antisemitism be weaponized consistently against Palestine organizers, to the point where it’s actually just like presupposing,” Kiswani is reported saying. “This is part of the call for BDS,” Kiswani said, noting that the movement uses “these tactics to pressure Israel to honor international law.”