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CUNY Hit with Another Antisemitic Complaint

Lax CUNY.jpg

Faculty members at CUNY’s Kingsborough Community College allegedly plotted to exclude an Orthodox Jewish professor from appearing at a meeting by deliberately scheduling it on a Friday night so he couldn’t attend, a report obtained by The Post reveals.

Professor Jeffrey Lax, who is Dean of the Business Department at the two-year college on the waterfront near Sheepshead Bay, filed a complaint alleging antisemitism with KCC following the controversy over the March 2018 meeting, which ended up not taking place after complaints surfaced that it was held on Shabbat, the Jewish day of rest.

The group that planned the meeting — the Progressive Faculty Caucus — called the meeting to discuss alleged discrimination against LGBT members on campus.

Ironically, Lax holds progressive views. He’s written columns in support of LGBT protections under the Civil Rights Act.

The KCC administration hired the law firm Jackson Lewis to investigate the discrimination complaint reported by Lax, who previously filed a federal lawsuit alleging religious discrimination against observant Jews on campus.

Claims of antisemitism have been a simmering issue at CUNY campuses in recent years.

The 90-page report is filled with anecdotes of grudges and grievances and power struggles among different faculty factions.

“There is certainly discord between complaints and respondents, and they are having a difficult time interacting with one another in a collegial manner,” the report said.

But the report also found that three witnesses said the PFC meeting had been scheduled on a Friday to exclude Lax, who was not liked by other more progressive Professors.

One witness told investigators that “left wing people didn’t like [Lax] because he was pro-Trump, pro-Israel, he’s a Zionist, conservative American.”

“The PFC was concerned that if the Friday night meeting happened at a time that [Lax] could attend, that he would `show up’, dominate the meeting, basically record the meeting ….he would take the names of people who were alleging discrimination and he would be a chilling effect.”

There was already a dispute over the PFC excluding deans from serving as members of the group. PFC organizers claimed the deans wielded a lot of power and many non-tenured professors would feel uneasy airing grievances in front of them, the report said.

The KCC-commissioned report said it was wrong for PFC organizers to use the Lax’s observance of the Sabbath — his religious practice — to prevent him from participating in a planned meeting.

“In using his religious observance to exclude him, the PFC treated Lax less favorably based on his religion,” the report prepared for KCC said.

“Although the primary objective was to exclude Lax, the PFC’s decision to schedule the meeting at a time that [Lax] could not attend due to his religious observance had the potential of creating a disparate impact on other Jewish faculty who observe the sabbath who wanted to attend the PFC meeting.

“Allegations that respondents discriminated against them based on their religion can be substantiated in part…Observance of the Jewish Sabbath was at least part of the reason for the PFC to schedule a meeting on a Friday night,” the report concluded.

Lax obtained the June 17 investigative report after filing a Freedom of Information Law request.

Lax’s attorney, Jonah Zweig, said, “An independent investigation of the City University of New York has confirmed the existence of antisemitic discrimination on the Kingsborough Community College campus.