Jewish Students Decry Spying on Muslims

Community Leaders Side With NYPD in Civil Liberties Fracas

NYPD Anger: Jewish students are speaking out in support of Muslim students targeted for surveillance by New York police.
getty images
NYPD Anger: Jewish students are speaking out in support of Muslim students targeted for surveillance by New York police.

By Josh Nathan-Kazis

Published March 01, 2012, issue of March 09, 2012.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

Jewish students have voiced solidarity with their Muslim counterparts following new revelations that the New York City Police Department collected intelligence on Muslim groups at several college campuses in the northeast corridor.

Student groups at several targeted colleges said they stepped up to defend their classmates in the face of surveillance that tramples on the rights of all students.

“The idea of religious students from any religion being surveilled I think was offensive to the [Jewish] students,” said Rabbi Mike Uram, Hillel director at the University of Pennsylvania.

In a sign of a possible generational divide, most Jewish communal leaders, even some who work in coalitions with Muslim groups, defended the police effort.

The revelations are the latest in a lengthy series published by The Associated Press, starting last summer. The stories, which have already won a prestigious George Polk Award, revealed extensive spying by the NYPD on Muslim communities in and outside New York City.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly both responded to early stories by asserting that the department acted only after getting leads about possible crimes, though the latest stories suggest otherwise.

In reports published in recent weeks, AP revealed that the NYPD had collected intelligence on Muslim student groups at many colleges. It also reported that the department had sent investigators to create files on mosques in New Jersey and Long Island.

Aside from Penn, Muslim student groups were probed at Yale, Columbia, New York, Syracuse and Rutgers. They were also targeted at several campuses of the state and city universities of New York.

Muslim organizations, noting that the institutions and individuals subject to police monitoring and data gathering were suspected of no crimes, have decried the department’s activities as ethnic profiling.

Following the revelation of intelligence gathering on Muslim students at Penn, three elected student leaders at the campus Hillel issued a statement in support of Muslim students at the school. The statement did not explicitly condemn the NYPD’s tactics or name the Muslim Students Association, the student group targeted by the surveillance.

“Given the recent findings of the NYPD’s monitoring of Muslim students, we, as leaders of Hillel and Penn’s Jewish community, stand firmly in solidarity with our brethren,” the Hillel leaders wrote. “We hope that the university will work to further prioritize the security and rights of all religious students.”

One of the statement’s signatories, Alex Jefferson, president of Penn’s Hillel, said that the gesture had already helped build bonds between the communities and that Muslim students and Muslim student leaders had expressed their appreciation.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • What the foolish rabbi of Chelm teaches us about Israel and the Palestinian unity deal:
  • Mazel tov to Idina Menzel on making Variety "Power of Women" cover! http://jd.fo/f3Mms
  • "How much should I expect him and/or ask him to participate? Is it enough to have one parent reciting the prayers and observing the holidays?" What do you think?
  • New York and Montreal have been at odds for far too long. Stop the bagel wars, sign our bagel peace treaty!
  • Really, can you blame them?
  • “How I Stopped Hating Women of the Wall and Started Talking to My Mother.” Will you see it?
  • Taglit-Birthright Israel is redefining who they consider "Jewish" after a 17% drop in registration from 2011-2013. Is the "propaganda tag" keeping young people away?
  • Happy birthday William Shakespeare! Turns out, the Bard knew quite a bit about Jews.
  • Would you get to know racists on a first-name basis if you thought it might help you prevent them from going on rampages, like the recent shooting in Kansas City?
  • "You wouldn’t send someone for a math test without teaching them math." Why is sex ed still so taboo among religious Jews?
  • Russia's playing the "Jew card"...again.
  • "Israel should deal with this discrimination against Americans on its own merits... not simply as a bargaining chip for easy entry to the U.S." Do you agree?
  • For Moroccan Jews, the end of Passover means Mimouna. Terbhou ou Tse'dou! (good luck) How do you celebrate?
  • Calling all Marx Brothers fans!
  • What's it like to run the Palestine International Marathon as a Jew?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.