Opinion

What’s up with Gov. Hochul’s CUNY antisemitism probe?

It’s going on four months since Gov. Hochul tapped former state Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman to review discrimination and antisemitism at the City University of New York, but it looks like New Yorkers will have to keep waiting for his report — even as at least some CUNY schools are taking some steps to crack down on the hate.

“The problem didn’t begin with the weeks following Oct. 7 attacks. It’s been growing on a number of campuses and seen most acutely in the City University of New York,” Hochul said when she launched the probe in October.

When will New Yorkers get some answers? Maybe before commencement season.

Lippman apparently took it upon himself to mount an expansive review of all 25 CUNY campuses — not just the few that had headline-making incidents, such as CUNY Law grad Fatima Mousa Mohammed’s commencement speech last spring falsely condemning Israel for “murdering the old, the young, attacking even funerals and graveyards” and the July federal civil rights complaint accusing CUNY of having a “pervasively hostile environment for Jewish students.”

Some change is already happening:

  • CUNY Graduate Center President Robin Garrell, who came under fire last summer for hiring pro-Palestinian professor Marc Lamont Hill, stepped down in September.
  • CUNY recently axed a Lehman College session on “Globalizing the Intifada!” that critics ripped as a “guide for junior terrorists.”
In October 2023, Gov. Kathy Hochul tapped Jonathan Lippman, former Chief Judge of the New York Court of Appeals, to review the City University of New York's policies and procedures related to antisemitism and discrimination.
In October 2023, Gov. Kathy Hochul tapped Jonathan Lippman, former Chief Judge of the New York Court of Appeals, to review the City University of New York’s policies and procedures related to antisemitism and discrimination. Spencer A. Burnett

Good:  As Rep. Ritchie Torres (D-Bx.) seethed, “Any event seeking to ‘globalize the intifada’ is an open invitation to violence against Jews across the globe.” 

But the cancellation arguably came rather late, given CUNY’s claims to have taken “many steps to combat hate, discrimination and intolerance in all forms.”

Lippman tells us he believes that the state of mind at CUNY is to make as many changes as they can now, well before release of his report and recommended best practices.

On the other hands, Lippman’s last big public impact was authoring the plan to replace the Rikers Island jails with smaller borough-based ones — a wildly impractical vision that the city nonetheless signed onto and now has no end in sight, effectively blocking any reasonable solution to the current jail’s real woes.

Which leaves us worrying that he’s going to be just as worse-than-useless this time ’round.

Hochul was right to order a probe after the campus explosion of antisemitism after Hamas’ horrific Oct. 7 attack on Israel.

But no one should be waiting on Lippman to take action: CUNY can always incorporate any useful findings or ideas he offers whenever he finally shares them.

The CUNY board, and the leaders of every school, owe it to the public to share what they’re doing now to ensure that students and faculty don’t feel unsafe at a great public university.

Living up to the school’s proud history as “the poor man’s Harvard” requires bold steps to prove that hate has no home at CUNY.

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