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Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s daughter boycotts namesake CUNY center over anti-Israel speech at law school graduation

(New York Jewish Week) – The daughter of the late New York Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan is boycotting the opening of a CUNY institution named after her father due to a speech at the university’s law school commencement that she called antisemitic. 

Maura Moynihan, 66, told the New York Jewish Week that she believes the university system has not done enough to combat and condemn antisemitism on their campuses. In protest, she said that she intends to skip the Thursday opening of The Moynihan Center, a City College institution dedicated to cultivating new public affairs leaders.

“The speech by Fatima Mousa Mohammed at the CUNY Law School commencement shocked and horrified so many people in New York and around the world,” Moynihan said, referring to a May 12 graduation speech by a student who praised the law school as a rare place where students could, in her view, “speak out against Israeli settler colonialism.” 

Moynihan added that her father, an Irish Catholic, was a great supporter of Israel. She said that by not condemning Mohammed’s address, The City College of New York — which is also part of the CUNY system but operates separately from the law school — is “taking his name in vain.” 

The Daniel Patrick Moynihan Center is part of City College’s Colin Powell School for Civic and Global Leadership. It will host two new fellowship programs and a slate of events dedicated to advancing public scholarship and public service. The center received a grant of nearly $7 million from the Leon Levy Foundation, which is known for supporting many Jewish causes in New York City, including the Tenement Museum and the Center for Jewish History.  

The younger Moynihan’s boycott comes after years of salvos against CUNY by Jewish and pro-Israel activists, both inside and beyond the university. Advocates have charged that the school has tolerated expressions of antisemitism and anti-Zionism from faculty and students, and in 2016, in light of those allegations, the university opened a probe into antisemitism at the school. The report concluded that actions by the campus chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine, while seen as offensive, were not antisemitic.

Particularly in recent years, the law school has been the focus of accusations of antisemitism. In 2022, after faculty and student associations at the school endorsed a boycott of Israel, the New York City Council held a hearing grilling CUNY officials on bigotry against Jews on campus.  Mohammed’s speech renewed the antisemitism allegations.

CUNY Chancellor Felix Matos Rodríguez and the university’s board of trustees denounced her address as “hate speech” on May 30 and said it amounts to “a public expression of hate toward people and communities based on their religion, race or political affiliation.”

A spokesman for City College told the New York Jewish Week that “we, as a campus, including our Centers and Institutes, cannot comment on issues that are specific to other colleges.” The spokesman added that “City College, like all schools within the City University of New York system, has an unwavering commitment to all of our students, faculty and staff.”

Maura Moynihan believes that by not doing more, CUNY is not living up to her father’s legacy. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, who studied for a year at City College before enlisting in the military, began his political career in the 1950s in the office of New York’s governor. He served as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations in 1975, where he became well-known for his staunch defense of Israel after the U.N. officially declared that “Zionism is racism.” His speech following that decision was a key moment in his political career, coming two years before he won a senate seat in 1977. Though the U.N. resolution passed, Moynihan successfully worked to get it overturned in 1991. He retired from the Senate in 2001.

Maura Moynihan said that while watching Mohammed’s commencement address, she was reminded of a line from her father’s 1975 UN speech: “A great evil has been loosed upon the world; the abomination of antisemitism has been given the appearance of international sanction.” 

“That’s how I felt when I watched it, several times,” she said. “That the abomination of antisemitism has been sanctioned.” 

And though her father “worked tirelessly to see it overturned, the damage had been done,” the younger Moynihan said. She believes that Mohammed’s speech, in which Mohammed encouraged “the fight against capitalism, racism, imperialism and Zionism around the world,” had the same effect. Moynihan, like her father, is not Jewish, though she once worked as a communications consultant at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C.

At issue, Moynihan added, was the setting: Mohammed’s speech occurred at an event held by a publicly-funded university. “Had she said it privately, in a different context or forum, that would be disturbing enough, but we do have free speech in this country,” she said. “But she said it at the CUNY Law School commencement, which is paid for with our tax dollars as New Yorkers and New York has one of the largest Jewish communities in the world.”

Moynihan feels that the condemnation by CUNY leadership was “simply not enough.”

“I’m so sick of people, when these antisemitic statements and incidents come up, they somebody writes a tweet or a statement condemning it, but they don’t take action,” she said, questioning why the law school’s dean, Sudha Setty, was not fired after she was seen applauding the speech. She wants the Moynihan Center to release a statement echoing the chancellor’s condemnation of Mohammed’s speech. “It is illegitimate to have a Moynihan Center that will not invoke his famous speeches at the United Nations,” she said.

Moynihan is no stranger to controversy: In March 2021, she was filmed by an Asian couple in Kips Bay, who alleged that she repeatedly yelled at them to “Go back to China.

In a statement, Moynihan told ABC 7 New York that the incident was a “misunderstanding.” “It had nothing whatsoever to do with any bias or racism or anti-Asian American prejudice, as has been wrongly suggested,” she said, adding that the dispute was over a taxi cab.  

Moynihan said that she has tried to contact City College several times to encourage them to make a statement. She said hasn’t been able to get in touch with administration, which she found “extremely disappointing.” It is unclear as to whether the late senator’s wife, Moynihan’s 93-year-old mother, Elizabeth, will attend Thursday’s ceremony. 

“If you can’t stand up against antisemitism in the CUNY system, in my father’s hometown of New York, what is the point of a center that bears his name?” she said. “We cannot stay silent about this dangerous normalization of antisemitism.”

The post Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s daughter boycotts namesake CUNY center over anti-Israel speech at law school graduation appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

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Biden Highlights US Commitment to Israel, Ukraine, Indo-Pacific in West Point Speech

West Point graduating cadets congratulate each other at the conclusion of commencement ceremonies in West Point, New York, U.S., May 25, 2024. Photo: REUTERS/Tom Brenner

President Joe Biden emphasized the critical role of U.S. support to allies around the world including Israel, Ukraine and the Indo-Pacific in a speech on Saturday at the commencement for the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York.

The speech before 1,036 graduating U.S. Army cadets is part of a push by Biden to highlight the administration’s efforts to support active and retired military personnel. These include a bipartisan law he signed two years ago to help veterans who have been exposed to burn pits or other poisons obtain easier access to healthcare.

Biden described American soldiers as “working around the clock” to support Ukraine in its effort to repel a two-year long Russian invasion, but repeated his commitment to keeping them off the front lines.

“We are standing strong with Ukraine and we will stand with them,” Biden told the crowd to a round of applause.

He also highlighted the U.S. role in repelling Iranian missile attacks against Israel and support for allies in the Indo-Pacific against increasing Chinese militarism in the region.

“Thanks to the U.S. Armed Forces, we’re doing what only America can do as the indispensable nation, the world’s only superpower,” Biden said.

The president is scheduled to participate in Memorial Day services at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia on Monday. A week later, he will travel to Normandy, France, to participate in ceremonies marking the 80th anniversary of the D-Day invasion.

Biden is expected to give a major speech about the heroism of Allied forces in World War Two and the continuing threats to democracy today.

As vice president, he twice addressed a graduating class of cadets at the academy about 40 miles (64 km) north of New York City, but this was the first time as president.

Donald Trump, Biden’s Republican challenger in the 2024 election, was the last president to speak at a West Point commencement, in 2020.

College campuses nationwide have erupted in sometimes-violent protests over Biden’s support for Israel’s war against Hamas following the militant group’s Oct. 7 attack. Students have used commencement speeches at universities such as Harvard, Duke and Yale to protest Biden’s actions.

Earlier this month, the Democratic president gave the commencement speech at Morehouse College, a historically Black men’s college, where protests were sparse.

The military academy was founded in 1802 by President Thomas Jefferson to train Army officers and has produced some of the United States’ greatest generals, including two who went on to become president.

Trump has seen some of his support from the military community erode.

In 2016, he won 60% of voters who said at the time that they served in the military, according to exit polls conducted by NBC News. That figure dropped to 54% in 2020, according to NBC News.

In 2020, Biden won 44% of voters who said they served in the military, according to the data.

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World Court’s Order on Rafah Does Not Rule Out Entire Offensive, Israel Says

Some rises after an Israeli strike as Israeli forces launch a ground and air operation in the eastern part of Rafah, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, May 7, 2024. Photo: REUTERS/Hatem Khaled

Israel considers that an order by the World Court to halt its military offensive on Rafah in southern Gaza allows room for some military action there, Israeli officials said.

In an emergency ruling in South Africa’s case accusing Israel of genocide, judges at the International Court of Justice ordered Israel on Friday to immediately halt its assault on Rafah, where Israel says it is rooting out Hamas fighters.

“What they are asking us, is not to commit genocide in Rafah. We did not commit genocide and we will not commit genocide,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s national security adviser, Tzachi Hanegbi, told Israel’s N12 TV on Saturday.

Asked whether the Rafah offensive would continue, Hanegbi said: “According to international law, we have the right to defend ourselves and the evidence is that the court is not preventing us from continuing to defend ourselves.”

The ICJ, which is based in The Hague, did not immediately comment on Hanegbi’s remarks. Hamas also did not immediately comment.

Another Israeli official pointed to the phrasing of the ruling by the ICJ, or World Court, depicting it as conditional.

“The order in regard to the Rafah operation is not a general order,” the official said on condition of anonymity.

Reading out the ruling, the ICJ’s president, Nawaf Salam, said the situation in Gaza had deteriorated since the court last ordered Israel to take steps to improve it, and conditions had been met for a new emergency order.

“The state of Israel shall (…) immediately halt its military offensive, and any other action in the Rafah governorate, which may inflict on the Palestinian group in Gaza conditions of life that could bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part,” Salam said.

That wording does not rule out all military action, the Israeli official said.

“We have never, and we will not, conduct any military action in Rafah or elsewhere which may inflict any conditions of life to bring about the destruction of the civilian population in Gaza, not in whole and not in part,” the official said.

The ICJ has no means to enforce its orders.

Israel began its offensive in Gaza to try to eliminate Hamas after Hamas-led terrorists stormed into southern Israeli communities on Oct. 7 last year, killing 1,200 people and taking more than 250 others as hostages. It has pressed on with its offensive since the ICJ ruling.

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ICC Chief Prosecutor Denies Equating Israel with Hamas

Defense Counsel for Kenya’s Deputy President William Ruto, Karim Khan attends a news conference before the trial of Ruto and Joshua arap Sang at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague September 9, 2013. Photo: REUTERS/Michael Kooren/File Photo

i24 NewsIn an interview with The Sunday Times, International Criminal Court (ICC) chief prosecutor Karim Khan has firmly dismissed accusations that he equates the actions of Israel with those of Hamas, labeling such claims as “nonsense.”

This marks Khan’s first major interview since announcing his intent to request arrest warrants for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, and three Hamas leaders.

Khan clarified his stance, emphasizing that he does not consider Israel, with its democratic framework and supreme court, comparable to the terrorist group Hamas.

“I am not saying that Israel with its democracy and its supreme court is akin to Hamas, of course not. I couldn’t be clearer, Israel has every right to protect its population and to get the hostages back. But nobody has a license to commit war crimes or crimes against humanity. The means define us,” Khan stated.

In response to an Israeli official’s inquiry about locating hostages, Khan drew a parallel with the UK’s handling of the IRA.

He referenced various terrorist incidents involving the IRA, including assassination attempts and bombings, noting that despite these, the British did not resort to indiscriminate bombing in populated areas known for IRA activity. “You can’t do that,” Khan asserted.

Khan also shared his personal commitment to the issue of hostages, revealing that he wears a blue wristband with “Bring Them Home” inscribed on it and carries a dog tag dedicated to Kfir Bibas, the youngest hostage at nine months old.

“This would break anyone’s heart,” he remarked. “There are Palestinian babies dying and we cannot have double standards.”

Addressing the potential issuance of arrest warrants, Khan stressed the global community’s responsibility to enforce them. “If states don’t step up, it has massive implications,” he warned.

“The ICC is their child — I am just the nanny or hired help. They have a choice to look after this child or be responsible for its abandonment.”

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