In 2019, Felix Matos Rodriguez was promoted as Chancellor of The City University of New York (CUNY), leading the nation’s largest urban university and overseeing its 25 colleges and nearly 250,000 students. Just 4 short years later, in the city where the population is 20% Jewish, Matos Rodriguez has transformed CUNY into America’s most antisemitic university.
Matos Rodriguez parades himself as a “champion of student equity” however results show CUNY’s Jewish students and faculty are continually disregarded, dismissed, and attacked over their identity. Jewish students at CUNY have said they have been harassed and bullied to the point of some dropping out. In most of these instances, the perpetrators of this abuse are never addressed, and Chancellor Matos Rodriguez’s silence is deafening.
Chancellor Matos Rodriguez has strategically replaced Jewish leaders with individuals that spew harmful antisemitic rhetoric. Three of CUNY’s senior leaders have alleged ties to the Hamas-connected Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the antisemitic BDS movement. For example, in 2019, Chancellor Matos Rodriguez hired CAIR’s Minnesota Director Saly Abd Alla as CUNY’s Chief Diversity Officer, overseeing all 25 campuses and its students. Abd Alla championed the BDS movement in her tenure with CAIR. The Minnesota chapter of CAIR became so extreme that the national chapter of CAIR distanced itself from her group. As the Chief Diversity Officer for CUNY, Abd Alla oversees all issues of injustice, including antisemitism. However, under Abd Alla, CUNY received two Title VI complaints over the ongoing ignored instances of antisemitic behaviors at CUNY.
In 2021, under the supervision of Chancellor Matos Rodriguez, the president of CUNY’s faculty union, James Davis, was recognized as a BDS activist and promoter of anti-Jewish sentiments within CUNY; under his leadership, the association has supported campaigns to remove Zionism from CUNY. In June 2021, the adoption of an antisemitic and pro-BDS resolution by the union led to the resignation of around 300 faculty members, many of whom were Jewish, in protest. As an additional stain on the tenure of Chancellor Matos Rodríguez, six CUNY professors are suing to sever all ties to the school’s faculty union over its antisemitic views.
In 2022, Jeffrey Lax, an Orthodox Jew who is the Business Department Chair at CUNY’s Kingsborough Community College, filed multiple complaints of antisemitic harassment, including the vicious attack of a visibly Jewish student at the hands of a fellow student. Chancellor Matos Rodriguez appointed Abd Alla to oversee the complaints of Lax. When outcry came over this move, Chancellor Rodriguez defended Abd Alla by falsely denying she had any connection to BDS or antisemitic groups, which would prevent her from holding a just investigation. These were the first of many failures which led to antisemitic incidents skyrocketing on CUNY campuses under Matos Rodriguez’s leadership.
In 2023, the state of New York issued an official probe into CUNY Law School over anti-Jewish bias and BDS support. The investigation is deciding whether CUNY discriminated against Jewish students when its faculty council passed a resolution last year supporting the anti-Israel BDS movement. The probe shows faculty encouraging CUNY to end exchange programs with Israel and to support the BDS movement. The inquiry also confirmed the movement outrageously sought to remove Hillel – a Jewish campus organization –from CUNY campuses.
In 2022, Chancellor Matos Rodriguez claimed CUNY would spend a whopping $1million addressing discrimination on all 25 campuses yet missed hearings on antisemitism when they were rescheduled at his request and failed to appear at the newly scheduled hearings.
Despite his promises, CUNY Law School also continued to host two antisemitic commencement speakers to address graduates at the 2022 and 2023 graduations. In 2022, former “Antisemite of the Year” Nerdeen Kiswani was approved to address law students. Kiswani, a rabid antisemite and terror sympathizer, attempts to conceal her vile Jew-hatred as an anti-Israel activist. Kiswani shares her desires to see Jews killed and documented herself attempting to light a Black man’s sweatshirt on fire because it supported the Israeli Defense Forces. In 2023, CUNY Law hosted Fatima Mousa Mohammed, who spent her time at CUNY Law pushing BDS and supporting the removal of Jewish professors. In her commencement speech, Mohammed promoted violence, spread hatred of Israel and the police, paid tribute to Hamas financiers, and demonstrated solidarity with the BDS movement. Her words garnered harsh criticism from around the country from Jewish organizations, U.S. politicians on both sides of the aisle, and prominent CUNY alums.
Chancellor Matos Rodriquez is not an apathetic bystander to Jew-hatred, but rather an accessory to it, greenlighting antisemitic screeds as he ducks accountability. StopAntisemitism has called on New York Governor Kathy Hochul to step in and save CUNY from itself by removing Chancellor Matos Rodriguez and replacing him with a leader who is committed to protecting every one of CUNY’s students.
How can you help? Please email Governor Hochul and call upon her to immediately remove Chancellor Matos Rodriguez.