Gaza War

CUNY pulls Jew-hatred definitions from its bias reporting portal


On Oct. 11, four days after Hamas terrorists attacked Israel, the City University of New York’s portal for reporting discrimination and retaliation included both the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA)’s working definition of antisemitism and the Jerusalem Declaration of Antisemitism in a list of external resources.

By Nov. 10, CUNY excised both the IHRA and the Jerusalem definitions, archived versions of the website show.

Forty-three countries have adopted the IHRA definition, which comes with 11 contemporary examples of Jew-hatred that include “claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor,” per its website.

The Jerusalem definition, which has not been adopted as widely, says that the IHRA definition “caused confusion and generated controversy, hence weakening the fight against antisemitism.” It also says that “evidence-based criticism of Israel as a state,” calling Israel “apartheid,” and the boycott Israel movement are not antisemitic.

CUNY leaders had promoted the portal as the place to report discrimination and retaliation in an effort to combat rising hatred of Jews and Israel on its campuses.

A CUNY spokesman told JNS that the university removed the IHRA definition when it launched a dedicated page for “combating antisemitism.” That page, first listed on a prominent web archive site on Oct. 31, contains neither mention of nor links to the IHRA and Jerusalem definitions.

At some point after Nov. 18, the page linked to Gov. Kathy Hochul’s “2020 proclamation and the guidance from the US Department of Education, identifying the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism as a vital resource.”

“This use of the IHRA definition at CUNY will not diminish or infringe upon any rights protected under the First Amendment to the US Constitution or the NYS Constitution, and shall not be construed to conflict with local, federal or state law,” CUNY states.

With the IHRA and Jerusalem definitions removed, the portal no longer lists any resources specifically about antisemitism. It lists seven external resources: the city’s human rights commission and the latter’s LGBTQ protections info card; the state’s human-rights division, hate-crimes task force, guide to discrimination based on gender identity or expression and guide to racial discrimination; and the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Jeffrey Lax, chair of the business department at CUNY’s Kingsborough Community College is co-founder of SAFE CUNY, which advocates for Zionist Jews across the university’s 25 campuses. Lax was one of four CUNY professors that the public university investigated — allegedly as retaliation for vigorously reporting antisemitism on campus. 

Lax and another professor have since been cleared.

He told JNS that CUNY’s chancellor and its chief diversity officer “should be immediately terminated” for removing the IHRA definition from the discrimination complaint portal.

Saly Abd Alla, CUNY’s chief diversity officer, referred JNS questions about the removal of the IHRA definition from CUNY’s portal to the university’s media relations office. (Abd Alla was a director at the Council on Islamic Relations, which has a long history of antisemitism.)

Sophia McGee, CUNY’s director of intercultural student engagement and dialogue, did not return repeated JNS requests for comment.