(New York Jewish Week) — Amid ongoing debate over a recent commencement speech at the City University of New York’s law school that included harsh criticism of Israel, Republican Rep. Mike Lawler has introduced legislation that would rescind federal funding from colleges that promote antisemitism.
Lawler, who represents New York’s 17th congressional district, introduced the “Stop Anti-Semitism on College Campuses” bill on Thursday. Lawler’s district includes Rockland County, which has a large population of Orthodox Jews.
“Many in the Jewish community in New York and across the country were outraged when a student spewed outrageous antisemitic rhetoric at CUNY Law School’s graduation in May,” Lawler said in a statement. “No college or university should receive a single dollar of federal education funding if they peddle in the promotion of antisemitism at an event on their campus.”
The bill would “prohibit institutions of higher education that authorize Anti-Semitic events on campus from participating in the student loan and grant programs” under Title IV of the 1956 Higher Education Act. It has eight cosponsors, all Republicans, including the chamber’s two Republican Jews, Tennessee’s David Kustoff and Ohio’s Max Miller.
The bill comes after a speech delivered on May 12 at the graduation ceremony of the CUNY School of Law in Queens, in which Fatima Mousa Mohammed praised the law school as a place where students could “speak out against Israeli settler colonialism.” She also called the New York Police Department “fascist” and encouraged “the fight against capitalism, racism, imperialism and Zionism around the world.”
Pro-Israel advocates have long accused CUNY of tolerating antisemitism on campus, and the speech has drawn criticism in recent days. On Tuesday, CUNY Chancellor Fèlix Matos Rodríguez and the school’s Board of Trustees condemned Mohammed’s speech, calling her remarks “hate speech.”
On Wednesday night, at an event celebrating Jewish American Heritage Month at Gracie Mansion, New York City Mayor Eric Adams criticized the speech. He had been in attendance earlier in the ceremony, which had initially drawn attention because part of the graduating class turned their backs on him and heckled him when he spoke. He said he was not present for Mohammed’s address.
“If I was on that stage when those comments were made, I would have stood up and denounced them immediately, because we cannot allow it to happen,” he said in his speech Wednesday night.
Mohammed has received support from pro-Palestinian organizations, as well as groups of students and faculty at the school. The law school’s Jewish students’ association, which is known as a vocal supporter of pro-Palestinian advocacy, criticized “external zionist organizations” in a May 21 statement backing Mohammed, and said that attacks on her speech had come from groups that were spreading “false claims” 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.
And following the statement from the chancellor and board, 40 members of the CUNY School of Law faculty called for the statement to “be withdrawn immediately,” and requested that “an apology be issued to the student speaker and to the students that make up the law school Class of 2023.”
“No reasonable interpretation of the student speaker’s remarks would suggest it was ‘hate speech,’ given that none of the student’s comments attacked any persons or protected classes, but at most commented on nations and state institutions that are incontrovertibly causing harm to people domestically and internationally,” the faculty letter said.
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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.
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.”
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.)
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.
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