ISGAP is at the forefront of fighting antisemitism within academia. ISGAP confronts bigotry, the SJP and the ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood, at U.S. universities.
New York, December 23, 2020 — The Institute for the Study of Global Antisemitism and Policy (ISGAP) welcomed the decision by a New York appellate court on December 22 to uphold the decision of Fordham University not to recognize Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) as an official campus club. The unanimous decision of the Appellate Division, First Department, reversed a lower court ruling that had found in favor of the SJP application.
ISGAP filed an amicus curiae brief with the court seeking reversal and urging that the decision of Fordham’s dean of students be reinstated.
In granting Fordham’s motion to dismiss on procedural grounds, the appellate court went on to say, “even if we had found that standing exists and therefore had considered the merits of the petition, we would have concluded that the [SJP] petition should not have been granted. . . . . [Fordham’s] conclusion that the proposed [SJP] club, which would have been affiliated with [the] national [SJP] organization reported to have engaged in disruptive and coercive actions on other campuses, would work against, rather than enhance, [Fordham’s] commitment open dialogue and mutual learning and understanding, was not ‘without sound basis in reason’ or ‘taken without regard to the facts.’”
Dr. Charles Asher Small, ISGAP’s founder and executive director stated, “Fordham’s fact-based decision not to grant its imprimatur to an SJP club was consistent with ISGAP’s own independent findings, published in a monograph released in 2019, that SJP clubs had disrupted pro-Israel events on campuses across the country and that SJP’s core objective is to promote the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel. As our amicus brief demonstrated, BDS seeks to delegitimize Israel as a Jewish state and is widely viewed as antisemitic.”
In his decision to deny the SJP application, Fordham’s dean explained that the students’ proposed club’s “call for [BDS]” and desire to affiliate with the national SJP organization presented a “barrier to open dialogue and mutual learning and understanding” and would likely “lead to polarization rather than dialogue” about Israeli-Palestinian issues on campus.
“Significantly,” Dr. Small, added, “Fordham fully recognized the right of students to express their opinions freely, including with respect to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and encouraged them to do so.” He added, however, “a private university is under no legal obligation to embrace or otherwise give its imprimatur and devote resources to the local outpost of a national organization whose goals and tactics, as Fordham reasonably concluded, conflict with the mission and values of the University.”
“Educators around the country, particularly at private institutions, should look to the Fordham case as a model of reasoned and courageous decision making,” Dr. Small concluded.
Gregg Mashberg of Proskauer Rose LLP, ISGAP’s pro bono counsel in the Fordham case, noted, “Fordham’s dean personally assembled an extensive record regarding SJP’s activities, upon which he grounded his decision. The scope and thoroughness of this record clearly moved the court to reach out and sanction Fordham’s decision to reject the SJP application — even though the court had already ruled to dismiss the case on procedural grounds. The decision remains a valuable precedent for other academic administrators confronted with politically charged decision making.”
Dr. Small added, “all those concerned about ensuring that all students have equal access to an education, without being hindered by discrimination on campus, owe much gratitude to Gregg Mashberg, lawyer and ISGAP Board member, for organizing a team of young lawyers that he guided and mentored, in the struggle against antisemitism in our universities.”
ISGAP, founded in 2004, is the first interdisciplinary research center based in North America dedicated to the study of antisemitism. ISGAP, together with eminent scholars and researchers from around the world, seeks to elevate public awareness of the growing problem of contemporary antisemitism by establishing critical antisemitism studies as a discipline in academia and through the expansion of international lines of communication to keep policymakers well informed. ISGAP conducts high caliber academic programming, including the ISGAP-Oxford Summer Institute for Curriculum Development on Critical Antisemitism Studies, educates civil servants, hosts international seminars series, and facilitates research projects to map, decode and confront contemporary antisemitism effectively.
ISGAP’s monograph on SJP can be viewed by clicking here.