Holding Antisemites Accountable.

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CUNY Jewish Professor Resigns from Union after Horrific Displays of Antisemitism within Party Ranks

Jeffrey Lax, a 47-year-old Jewish Professor of business at Kingsborough Community College in Brooklyn, N.Y., was appalled by a recent 83-34 vote by the Professional Staff Congress of CUNY on a June 10th resolution that condemns “the continued subjugation of Palestinians to the state-supported displacement, occupation and use of lethal force by Israel” and also “racism in all its forms including antisemitism, and recognizes that criticisms of Israel, a diverse nation-state, are not inherently antisemitic.” The resolution also called Israel an apartheid state and made no mention of Hamas.

“Whoever wrote this was not very intelligent,” Lax told JNS in a phone interview. “You can’t have it both ways. If Israel is an apartheid state, how can it also be a diverse nation-state? It’s clearly an antisemitic trope to call it an apartheid state. Do they not know that there are Arabs in the government? They serve on the Supreme Court and make up 20 percent of the population. It’s absurd. Facts matter.”

Lax, who is also an attorney, said he’s quitting the union because he doesn’t want his money to go to Jew-hatred. He said union dues are about 1 percent of his salary. He noted that in a letter, he wrote to PSC president James Davis and made it clear that just because a resolution says it’s not antisemitic does not make it so. He said the resolution also seeks put an end to American financial support to Israel, which is tantamount to divestment and a third of the Boycott, Divest and Sanctions movement known as BDS.

He said it’s embarrassing to see educators who are so uneducated.

“It’s downright antisemitic that the resolution completely failed to mention that Hamas rockets were fired down at Israeli civilians,” said Lax. This was a month ago, not years ago. Did they forget? This was a reaction to the fighting in Israel. That Palestinians died is a terrible tragedy, of course. But you can’t ignore the actions of Hamas. It took place. It’s a fact. You can’t just choose to ignore it and expect that you are doing something honorable. It’s nonsensical.”

Lax said the vote did not surprise him because there is a history of antisemitism in the union. He said he believes more than 55 other union members have also resigned.

“I don’t want my money to go to foster antisemitism,” said Lax. “It’s absurd.”

He said the “throw in” of the term antisemitism didn’t address the real conflict and was only used as a facade or a childish attempt to appear as though it was not anti-Semitic

Lax, who is Orthodox, said he had filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and was vindicated on all counts in a ruling about four or five months ago. He said his formal complaints stated that no Orthodox or Zionist professors were permitted to join the Progressive Faculty Caucus (while nobody else was turned down) at his college; in addition, under investigation, other members admitted that they purposely planned meetings on Friday night so Lax would not be able to attend.

“It was very stupid of them to admit it,” said Lax. “I don’t know why they admitted it, but they did.”