Paul L. Caron

Friday, April 15, 2022

Anti-Semitism Roils NYU Law School

Washington Free Beacon, Under Federal Scrutiny, NYU Law School Faces Uproar Over Anti-Semitism:

NYU Law (2016)New York University School of Law may be legally obligated to punish some of its star students after nearly a dozen student groups signed a statement that defended terrorist attacks on Israeli civilians and bemoaned the "Zionist grip on the media."

The statement, drafted by NYU Law School’s chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine, has elicited harassment complaints from Jewish students who say that the letter—and some of the responses it sparked from students—constituted vicious anti-Semitic attacks. ...

NYU may have no choice but to punish these students because the university in 2020 agreed to adopt a zero-tolerance policy toward anti-Semitism as part of a settlement with the Department of Education’s civil rights office, which was investigating a string of anti-Semitic incidents at the elite scool. The agreement obligates NYU to "take all necessary actions, including pursuant to its student discipline process," to address anti-Semitism on campus. Should the Biden administration decide to enforce the terms of that agreement, inaction could jeopardize NYU’s federal funding under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act.

The law school told students on Tuesday that it was investigating the harassment complaints "as required by our policies." But some students doubt the investigation will amount to much.

David Lat (Original Jurisdiction), NYU Law Erupts In Controversy Over Alleged Anti-Semitism:

What can we take away from all these free-speech controversies at top law schools? At the risk of being criticized for false balance or bothsidesism, I think they show that law students on both the right and the left need to develop thicker skins. If you want to have any hope of successfully representing a client at a trial or in a negotiation, you need to be able to hear out opinions you strongly disagree with—and even find offensive—without running off to complain to the judge or state bar.

Listening to views you disagree with is an essential part of lawyering. And life.

UPDATE (11:48 a.m.): To give you a sense of the list-serv discussion, I have posted (and will post more) anonymized student emails on this Twitter thread.

David Bernstein (George Mason), A Remarkable Outbreak of Antisemitism at NYU Law School:

For what it's worth, I think it's a mistake to make the controversy a matter of discrimination or harassment policy. Rather, the essence of the problem is that some NYU  law students (1) dehumanize Israelis to the point where they think murdering them for no reason other than that they exist is ok; and (2) either don't understand why stating that "Zionists" control the media is antisemitic, or do understand and think that spreading racism is okay so long as it's for the greater good of Palestinian nationalism. This is a problem regardless of whether the students in question violated NYU policy, and it may also be a problem to find that political opinion, no matter how noxious, violates NYU policy.

My suspicion is that if there had been a similar outbreak of any other sort of racism at NYU, the law school administration would have thought that it had a duty not (simply?) to investigate or punish, but to educate. Some education is clearly warranted.

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