Middle East

NYC Councilwoman withdraws funding for university over BDS endorsement

New City Councilwoman, Inna Vernikov, will be withdrawing $50,000 in funding for the City University of New York (CUNY) Law School due to the faculty’s support of a Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement resolution, New York Post reported on Friday.

“I have pulled funding from the program and redirected it to Legal Services NYC,” said Vernikov. “It seems as if anti-Semitism is the only politically acceptable form of racism which exists. We must stop handing out free passes to anti-Semites like candy.”

A resolution accusing Israeli academic institutions of complicity in the occupation and colonisation of Palestine and complicity with state violence against Palestinians was unanimously adopted by the College of Law Student Council earlier this month, after it was passed by the student government in December.

“CUNY Law Student Government proudly and unapologetically endorses the Palestinian-led call for BDS against Israel,” said the resolution, sponsored by more than 20 groups including the National Lawyers Guild and International Law Society.

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The resolution calls on the school “to cut all ties with organisations that repress Palestinian organising and end its complicity in the ongoing censorship, harassment and intimidation of Palestine solidarity activists, including through ending contracts, academic collaborations and refusing to be complicit in the targeted harassment and silencing of Palestine solidarity activists.”

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 anti-Semitism be weaponised consistently against Palestine organisers, 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 honour international law.”

Inna Vernikov is a Ukrainian-American attorney and former Democrat who claims she switched to the Republican Party over concerns about growing anti-Semitism. “I’m running as a Republican on principle because I can’t support the Democratic Party, which is no longer the party of John F. Kennedy or Bill Clinton,” she told the Jewish News Syndicate, while running for office in 2021.

Moreover, this is not the first time Vernikov has withdrawn funding. The New City Councilwoman pulled her $5,000 contribution from the Museum of Jewish Heritage earlier this month over its alleged ban of Florida Governor, Ron DeSantis.

“I did something I would’ve never imagined doing in my wildest dreams: I’ve pulled funding from a Museum that educates the world about the atrocities of the Holocaust,” she said in an open letter to the Museum’s donors.

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