Tolerance is on trial in this furore at New York law school

“Israel is an Apartheid regime”, according to New York University Law School’s branch of Students for Justice in Palestine

April 28, 2022 15:19

“NYU Law” sounds like one of those American crime series in which plucky prosecutors go up against villains and colleagues – or perhaps a drama set in a high-powered legal office like the one in Suits, in which Meghan Markle played a character called Rachel Zane, who might, just possibly, have been Jewish. It is not clear, though, if the latest season of “NYU Law” will have a happy ending.

“The Zionist grip on the media is omnipresent,” says a statement drafted by New York University Law School’s branch of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP). Israel, SJP says, is “an Apartheid regime”. The “Zionist supremacy narrative” is “the orientalist, Islamophobic idea that Askenazi [sic] Jewish whiteness is fundamentally superior to Palestinian lives, culture, and identity”. The idea that there are two sides to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a fiction, planted in your mind by “the Islamaphobic [sic] Zionist-funded US and Western media”.

According to Aaron Sibarium of the Washington Free Beacon, who chased up a story that the national media seem to have ignored despite, or possibly because of, the Zionist grip, the leaders of more than a dozen NYU Law student groups agreed with this drivel, and signed on behalf of organisations including the Black Allied Law Students Association; the Middle Eastern Law Students Association; the Women of Color Collective; Ending the Prison Industrial Complex and the Disability Allied Law Students Association’s signatory, Maya Goldman. Jewish groups have complained to NYU authorities of harassment.

So far, so typical of the American campus. The activists speak about the “white-adjacent” Jews. The conformists are intimidated into silence and the ambitious signal their virtue by declaring themselves to be “allies”, because if you’re not an ally, you’re an enemy. The outside world is merely a stage for the performing of America’s endless and narcissistic agonising over race and securing the inside track to a clerkship on graduation. What has America’s “prison industrial complex”, if it exists, got to do with Israel? What has the Zionist entity done to get on the wrong side of the allies of the disabled?

NYU may be a little kingdom of expensive vanities – a law degree at NYU Law will set you back around $100,000 – but the law of the land still applies, and NYU in particular is bound by it. In 2020, the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights investigated NYU after numerous incidents of “anti-Zionist” exuberance ranging from incitement to physical assault.

The Department of Education found that NYU had allowed a “hostile environment” to fester on its campus. NYU was in breach of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act – in December 2019, the Trump administration had extended the 1964 act to include Jews, due to rising antisemitism on campus. That meant NYU could lose its federal funding. NYU folded and agreed to adopt a “zero tolerance” policy towards antisemitism and to “maintain an environment free of bias, prejudice, discrimination, harassment, and retaliation”.

The recent statement from SJP is a test case. NYU Law’s administration says it is investigating the campaign according to its new policy, but Gary Dreyer, president of NYU Law Students for Israel, told the Free Beacon that he is unconvinced. “Blatantly antisemitic remarks can be made in public with zero consequences at this law school,” he told the Free Beacon. “This has gone on for years, and it has only gotten worse.”

If NYU fails to follow the law, the university risks losing federal funding – providing, that is, the Biden administration’s appointees in the Department of Education choose to pursue the case. If NYU doesn’t honour its commitment, and the Biden administration fails to take action, then a signal will have been sent to university administrators across America: denounce antisemitism to keep your funding, but don’t bother following those words with actions. Call me a pessimist, but I suspect that, under this administration, the chances are that, unlike Suits, “NYU Law” will run and run.

Dominic Green is the editor of The Spectator world edition

April 28, 2022 15:19

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