A City University of New York disciplinary committee handed down the minimum punishment to two Brooklyn College students involved in an “anti-Zionist and anti-Jewish” February protest, where a faculty member said he heard someone called a “Zionist pig.”
Sarah Aly and Thomas DeAngelis, seniors who both belong to the activist group Students for Justice in Palestine, had faced possible expulsion after their participation in a February 16 protest during a faculty meeting where, the college president alleged, students made anti-Semitic statements.
But on May 20, Aly and DeAngelis were found “not culpable” of most charges.
They received the minimal penalty of “admonition,” the Center for Constitutional Rights wrote in a statement.
Brooklyn College did not respond to a request for comment. Aly and DeAngelis could not be reached before deadline.
The committee’s findings come as other claims about widespread anti-Semitism at CUNY, alleged by the Zionist Organization of America, are also being investigated. In February, ZOA wrote a lengthy letter alleging that anti-Semitism was rampant at CUNY’s senior colleges — and that the student group SJP was largely responsible.
ZOA’s letter, which was put together in collaboration with local Hillel chapters, was almost entirely self-reported by students, whose names did not appear. An independent task force was formed in March to parse through the letter. Their investigation is ongoing, a representative from CUNY said.
The Brooklyn College incident involving Aly and DeAngelis was featured in ZOA’s public letter. “The behavior of these students was disgraceful and unacceptable,” ZOA wrote.
“From what we understand [the students’ minimal punishment] was an inappropriate decision made by the college,” said Morton Klein, ZOA’s national president. “We think there should have been a stronger decision made against this action.”
If the latest Brooklyn College ruling is any indication, ZOA’s allegations of wide anti-Jewish racism may prove difficult for school officials or lawyers to verify indirectly. “When we wrote the letter,” Klein said, “we simply described what was described to us.”
ZOA has campaigned against SJP nationally, calling the organization the “largest student anti-Israel group in the country” that “aims solely for the annihilation of the only Jewish state.”
SJP, which is a loosely organized student movement with chapters across the country, has played a prominent role in pushing the academic and economic boycott of Israel on campuses.
Contact Sam Kestenbaum at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter, @skestenbaum
‘Zionist Pig’ Student Protesters Get Slap on Wrist From Brooklyn College
Sam Kestenbaum is a contributing editor and former staff writer for the Forward. Before this, he worked for The New York Times and newsrooms in Sana, Ramallah and Beijing. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter at @skestenbaum and on Instagram at @skestenbaum.