CUNY faculty signs petition calling chancellor’s statement on Israel-Hamas war rallies racist, Islamophobic
After Hamas’s Oct. 7 strike on Israel, CUNY Chancellor Félix Matos Rodríguez issued a statement that has divided the CUNY community. The statement offers support to impacted students, especially those with friends and family in the Middle East. But it’s this second part that people are taking the most issue with. Rodríguez says:
“...We want to be clear that we don’t condone the activities of any internal organizations that are sponsoring rallies to celebrate or support Hamas’ cowardly actions. Such efforts do not in any way represent the University and its campuses.”
More than 200 staff and faculty signed a petition calling his statements racist and Islamophobic. CUNY professor Alex Wolf – who is Jewish – did not write the petition, but he’s one of the faculty members who signed it.
“The demonstrations that have happened throughout CUNY, throughout New York and actually throughout the world have not been pro-Hamas rallies,” Wolf told News 12 New York. “They have not been pro-terrorism. They have not glorified violence, which is what the chancellor wrote in his statement. They have been statements in support of Palestinian liberation.”
Wolf’s colleague, Professor Ángeles Donoso Macaya, agrees. She’s one of many who also signed the petition.
“We have thousands of students who come from various different parts of the world and we have diverse opinions, but there’s something that happens whenever you try to express solidarity with Palestine,” Donoso Macaya told News 12. “It’s important that we protect the rights of those who may be in danger, or suffer because of these public statements.”
News 12 New York reached out to CUNY multiple times to clarify why the Chancellor referred the rallies as pro-Hamas, but the school did not get respond after sending the initial statement.
“What the chancellor has done is he’s focused on one monstrous event and ignored the greater monstrosity that is the context for what has happened,” Wolf added.
CUNY faculty News 12 spoke to says in order for their community to move forward, conversation, dialogue and reflection is essential, not censorship. They say the rights of all university members should be protected.