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This University Just Denied Formation of a Student Justice for Palestine Group

This University Just Denied Formation of a Student Justice for Palestine Group

Fordham University in New York has denied the formation of a Palestinian Justice group, claiming that the creation of the club would be too “polarizing.” They disapproved a plan that would create a Students for Justice in Palestine chapter on campus.

The university also disapproved of the group’s support for the BDS movement, which stands for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions.

Keith Eldredge, the Dean of Students at Fordham, sent an email about the motion to students saying:

“While students are encouraged to promote diverse political points of view, and we encourage conversation and debate on all topics, I cannot support an organization whose sole purpose is advocating political goals of a specific group, and against a specific country, when these goals clearly conflict with and run contrary to the mission and values of the university.

In a soon-to-be Trump America, this move is part of an alarming trend of the suppression of free speech that has largely been aimed at Palestinian groups that support BDS and criticize Israeli policy.

There is perhaps no more complex topic than the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and it is a topic that often leads to polarization rather than dialogue. The purpose of the organization as stated in the proposed club constitution points toward that polarization. Specifically, the call for boycott, divestment and sanctions of Israel presents a barrier to open dialogue and mutual learning and understanding.”

A pro-Palestinian legal advocacy group, Palestine Legal, and the Center for Constitutional Rights released a letter in response criticizing the decision, saying that it violates free speech and academic freedom, two rights that are still revered at universities all over the U.S. The students insist that the group is not aimed at Israelis or Jews, but rather at the state of apartheid upheld by government policies. You can read this letter here.

Staff attorney of the group, Radhika Sainath said, “No one’s more polarizing than president-elect Trump, but Fordham did not ban the College Republicans. In singling out a group dedicated to Palestinian rights for censorship, Fordham makes a mockery of its supposed commitment to freedom of inquiry and critical thinking.”

Subject to multiple reviews and hearings, the group’s application had been waiting for more than a year. The Undergraduate Student Government of Fordham had approved of the club, but was then overridden by the Dean.

In a soon-to-be Trump America, this move is part of an alarming trend of the suppression of free speech that has largely been aimed at Palestinian groups that support BDS and criticize Israeli policy.

This decision also comes after the New York State senate almost cut $485 million dollars of funding to the City University of New York. The cut was proposed after a false claim from the Zionist Organization of America that CUNY was tolerating anti-Semitic activity by SJP. Accusations were found false after a six-month independent investigation was conducted.

But Fordham is a private school. Which of their funders are they afraid of offending?

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