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CUNY chancellor denounces anti-Israel law school graduation speech as ‘hate speech’



(New York Jewish Week) — The chancellor and board of trustees of the City University of New York have denounced a May 12 graduation speech at CUNY School of Law in which a student harshly criticized Israel.

Fatima Mousa Mohammed’s speech, in which she praised the law school as, in her view, a rare place where students could “speak out against Israeli settler colonialism,” was “hate speech,” according to a statement released Tuesday by Chancellor Felix Matos Rodríguez and the board of the public university system.

While the system cherishes free speech, the statement said, Mohammed’s remarks “unfortunately fall into the category of hate speech as they were a public expression of hate toward people and communities based on their religion, race or political affiliation.”

The statement went on, “The Board of Trustees of the City University of New York condemns such hate speech.”

The statement comes more than two weeks after the law school graduation ceremony where Mohammed was selected by her classmates to offer a commencement address. The ceremony was widely watched in part because part of the graduating class turned their backs on and booed Mayor Eric Adams, another speaker.

“As Israel continues to indiscriminately rain bullets and bombs on worshippers, murdering the old, the young, attacking even funerals and graveyards, as it encourages lynch mobs to target Palestininan homes and businesses, as it imprisons its children, as it continues its project of settler colonialism… our silence is no longer acceptable,” Mohammed said in her speech.

Later in her speech, she encouraged “the fight against capitalism, racism, imperialism and Zionism around the world.”

Pro-Israel advocates have long accused CUNY of tolerating antisemitism in part because of student and faculty expressions of anti-Israel sentiment, and the speech quickly drew criticism. The Jewish Community Relations Council of New York called the speech “incendiary, anti-Israel propaganda” in a statement on May 12.

“Unfortunately, this particular commencement speech cast aside the principle of seeking truth in a shameless attempt to vilify CUNY’s constructive engagement with Israel and the New York Jewish community and to denigrate Israel’s supporters on campus while trading in antisemitic tropes,” the statement said.

On Monday, the New York Post, a right-wing tabloid, put Mohammed on the cover, identifying her as “stark raving grad.”

Ritchie Torres, a pro-Israel Democratic congressman from the Bronx, tweeted about the speech on Sunday, writing that it was “anti-Israel derangement syndrome at work.”

“Imagine being so crazed by hatred for Israel as a Jewish State that you make it the subject of your commencement speech at a law school graduation,” he wrote.

And Republican Rep. Mike Lawler, whose New York congressional district includes the heavily Orthodox city of Monsey, tweeted in response to the video that he is “finalizing legislation to strip universities of their funding if they engage in and promote anti-semitism.”

“CUNY should be ashamed of itself — and should lose any federal funds it currently receives,” Lawler wrote.

CUNY’s law school has been a target of pro-Israel advocates for some time because of student activism against Israel. In December 2021 and May 2022, respectively, student and faculty associations each voted in favor of a resolution to support the Palestinian-led movement to boycott, divest from and sanction Israel, known as BDS.

The law school enrolls about 700 students at its Queens campus and is known for attracting left-wing students who are interested in public service legal work. Last year’s commencement ceremony ignited a similar controversy after Nerdeen Kiswani, who is part of a group that has called to “globalize the intifada,” was the student-selected speaker. The term “intifada” generally refers to two violent Palestinian uprisings in the late 1980s and early 2000s, and the group’s call is widely seen by pro-Israel advocates as calling for violence.

The law school’s Jewish students’ association has been a vocal supporter of pro-Palestinian advocacy on campus, saying in a May 21 statement backing Mohammed that criticism of her speech had come from “external zionist organizations” that were spreading lies about her.

“The organizations currently attacking Fatima and the rest of CUNY Law’s student body, with absurd and false claims of antisemitism, are doing so against the wishes of the majority of CUNY Law’s Jewish students, who wholeheartedly stand with Fatima and have been grateful to have her as our classmate throughout law school,” the group said in the statement, which was also signed by 18 other student groups.

CUNY, which operates 25 undergraduate and 15 graduate schools, has recently signaled that it is committed to fighting antisemitism on its campuses. In September 2022, the system allocated $750,000 for initiatives to “counter antisemitism” with the JCRC-NY and in May, launched a social media campaign in partnership with the Foundation to Combat Antisemitism, an organization launched by New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft in 2019.

In their statement condemning Mohammed’s speech, the system’s chancellor and trustees noted that CUNY is and always has been a diverse institution.

“This speech is particularly unacceptable at a ceremony celebrating the achievements of a wide diversity of graduates, and hurtful to the entire CUNY community, which was founded on the principle of equal access and opportunity,” the chancellor and trustees’ statement said.

The post CUNY chancellor denounces anti-Israel law school graduation speech as ‘hate speech’ appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

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Phyllis Pollock died at home Sunday September 3, 2023 in Winnipeg, after a courageous lifetime battle with cancer.
Phyllis was a mother of four: Gary (Laura), daughter Randi, Steven (deceased in 2010) (Karen), and Robert. Phyllis also had two grandchildren: Lauren and Quinn.
Born in Fort Frances, Ontario on February 7, 1939, Phyllis was an only child to Ruby and Alex Lerman. After graduating high school, Phyllis moved to Winnipeg where she married and later divorced Danny Pollock, the father of her children. She moved to Beverly Hills in 1971, where she raised her children.
Phyllis had a busy social life and lucrative real estate career that spanned over 50 years, including new home sales with CoastCo. Phyllis was the original sales agent for three buildings in Santa Monica, oceanfront: Sea Colony I, Sea Colony II, and Sea Colony. She was known as the Sea Colony Queen. She worked side by side with her daughter Randi for about 25 years – handling over 600 transactions, including sales and leases within the three phases of Sea Colony alone.
Phyllis had more energy than most people half her age. She loved entertaining, working in the real estate field, meeting new and interesting people everyday no matter where she went, and thrived on making new lifelong friends. Phyllis eventually moved to the Sea Colony in Santa Monica where she lived for many years before moving to Palm Desert, then Winnipeg.
After battling breast cancer four times in approximately 20 years, she developed metastatic Stage 4 lung cancer. Her long-time domestic partner of 27 years, Joseph Wilder, K.C., was the love of her life. They were never far apart. They traveled the world and went on many adventures during their relationship. During her treatment, Phyllis would say how much she missed work and seeing her clients. Joey demonstrated amazing strength, love, care, and compassion for Phyllis as her condition progressed. He was her rock and was by her side 24/7, making sure she had the best possible care. Joey’s son David was always there to support Phyllis and to make her smile. Joey’s other children, Sheri, Kenny, Joshua and wife Davina, were also a part of her life. His kids would Facetime Phyllis and include her during any of their important functions. Phyllis loved Joey’s children as if they were her own.
Thank you to all of her friends and family who were there to support her during these difficult times. Phyllis is now, finally, pain free and in a better place. She was loved dearly and will be greatly missed. Interment took place in Los Angeles.

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Gwen Centre Creative Living Centre celebrates 35th anniversary



By BERNIE BELLAN Over 100 individuals gathered at the Gwen Secter Centre on Tuesday evening, July 18 – under the big top that serves as the venue for the summer series of outdoor concerts that is now in its third year at the centre.
The occasion was the celebration of the Gwen Secter Centre’s 35th anniversary. It was also an opportunity to honour the memory of Sophie Shinewald, who passed away at the age of 106 in 2019, but who, as recently as 2018, was still a regular attendee at the Gwen Secter Centre.
As Gwen Secter Executive Director Becky Chisick noted in her remarks to the audience, Sophie had been volunteering at the Gwen Secter Centre for years – answering the phone among other duties. Becky remarked that Sophie’s son, Ed Shinewald, had the phone number for the Gwen Secter Centre stored in his phone as “Mum’s work.”

Raquel Dancho (left), Member of Parliament for Kildonan-St.Paul, and Nikki Spigelman, President, Gwen Secter Centre

Remarks were also delivered by Raquel Dancho, Member of Parliament for Kildonan-St. Paul, who was the only representative of any level of government in attendance. (How times have changed: I remember well the steadfast support the former Member of the Legislature for St. John’s, Gord Mackintosh, showed the Gwen Secter Centre when it was perilously close to being closed down. And, of course, for years, the area in which the Gwen Secter Centre is situated was represented by the late Saul Cherniack.)
Sophie Shinewald’s granddaughter, Alix (who flew in from Chicago), represented the Shinewald family at the event. (Her brother, Benjamin, who lives in Ottawa, wasn’t able to attend, but he sent a pre-recorded audio message that was played for the audience.)
Musical entertainment for the evening was provided by a group of talented singers, led by Julia Kroft. Following the concert, attendees headed inside to partake of a sumptuous assortment of pastries, all prepared by the Gwen Secter culinary staff. (And, despite my asking whether I could take a doggy bag home, I was turned down.)

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Palestinian gunmen kill 4 Israelis in West Bank gas station



This is a developing story.

(JTA) — Palestinian gunmen killed four people and wounded four in a terror attack at a gas station near the West Bank settlement of Eli, the Israeli army reported.

An Israeli civilian returning fire at the scene of the attack on Tuesday killed one of the attackers, who emerged from a vehicle, and two others fled.

Kan, Israel’s public broadcaster, said one of those wounded was in serious condition. The gunmen, while in the vehicle, shot at a guard post at the entry to the settlement, and then continued to the gas station which is also the site of a snack bar. A nearby yeshiva went into lockdown.

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant announced plans to convene a briefing with top security officials within hours of the attack. Kan reported that there were celebrations of the killing in major West Bank cities and in the Gaza Strip, initiated by terrorist groups Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Hamas said the shooting attack Tuesday was triggered by the Jenin raid.

The shooting comes as tensions intensify in the West Bank. A day earlier, Israeli troops raiding the city of Jenin to arrest accused terrorists killed five people.

The Biden administration spoke out over the weekend against Israel’s plans to build 4,000 new housing units for Jewish settlers in the West Bank. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also finalized plans to  transfer West Bank building decisions to Bezalel Smotrich, the extremist who is the finance minister. Smotrich has said he wants to limit Palestinian building and expand settlement building.

Kan reported that the dead terrorist was a resident of a village, Urif, close to Huwara, the Palestinian town where terrorists killed two Israeli brothers driving through in February. Settlers retaliated by raiding the village and burning cars and buildings.

The post Palestinian gunmen kill 4 Israelis in West Bank gas station appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

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