The CUNY School of Public Health has invited Linda Sarsour, an anti-Israel activist, to deliver the commencement speech at its graduation. Sarsour has known ties to the terrorist group Hamas, has encouraged violence against Jews, defends the mistreatment of women in Islamic countries, and much more. To list all of Sarsour’s egregious acts and statements would take up an entire article in itself. As a Jewish CUNY student, I want to explain why having her speak at the School of Public Health is so outrageous.
CUNY schools have always had a substantial population of Jewish students — specifically in Brooklyn College, Baruch College, and Hunter College. In my own school, Queens College, Jews make up 25 percent of the student body. CUNY schools have always been very accommodating to Jews by giving time off for major holidays and by providing a quality, affordable education close to home. However, by allowing a known terror sympathizer to speak at the commencement ceremony, CUNY is not living up to its own prescribed standards. CUNY is not only failing to condemn Sarsour for, among other things, her clear anti-Semitism, but it is venerating her by inviting her to address graduates. With this action, CUNY is declaring that this woman is a role model, a leader, and someone whom current students ought to emulate. Sarsour has actively called for violence against Jews, but CUNY is telling its students that she is a shining example of success. What kind of message does this send to the myriad Jewish students on its campuses?