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New York students denounce city council's anti-Palestinian rights campaign

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
This undated file photo shows a view of the City University of New York School of Law.

US students at a prominent New York university have denounced a decision by a city council member to remove funds allocated to providing free legal services to the community.

The decision to pull $50,000 in funding came after the City University of New York School of Law faculty members endorsed a boycott resolution in support of Palestinian rights. 

Councilwoman Inna Vernikov, a Ukrainian-born Jewish Republican representing parts of Brooklyn, pulled the funding last week, describing the faculty members' endorsement of the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement as "antisemitism and anti-Israel sentiment."

The Jewish Law Student Association at the university, however, denounced Vernikov's move, saying it fit "squarely within the intimidation and harassment tactic that pro-Israel activists rely on".

"Vernikov's latest campaign to smear our community joins a legacy of manufactured backlash which is not rooted in reality," a member of the student association told Middle East Eye (MEE).

Nerdeen Kiswani, a Palestinian-American activist and a graduate of the School of Law told MEE that Palestinian rights defenders would not be intimidated by the racist Zionist New York council members like Vernikov.

“We will not be intimidated by these pathetic gestures from city council members. Plenty of racist Zionist council members have tried to stop the movement for Palestinian liberation but they have failed and will continue to fail," Kiswani told MEE.

The BDS movement, which was founded in 2005, seeks to raise global awareness about Israel’s racist policies against Palestinians and upholds the simple principle that the people of Palestine are entitled to the same rights as the rest of humanity. BDS proponents compare the Palestinians' plight to that of Apartheid-era black South Africans, modeling the BDS after the Anti-Apartheid Movement in South Africa.

The Anti-Apartheid Movement was instrumental in initiating an academic boycott of South Africa which kicked off after the Declaration by British Academics for an Academic Boycott of South Africa in 1965.

The declaration was signed by 496 faculty members from 34 British universities to denounce the racist practices of the Apartheid regime in South Africa.

South Africa's racist Apartheid ended in the early 1990s.

The formation of a democratic government in South Africa took place in 1994.


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