Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network stands in solidarity with Palestinian activist and law graduate Nerdeen Kiswani, Within Our Lifetime, and the movement for Palestinian liberation at the City University of New York (CUNY).
Kiswani was elected by her graduating class as the student commencement speaker at her law school graduation, where she delivered a powerful message about Palestine, social justice and liberation. Despite a media smear campaign, Zionist organizations and right-wing forces failed to stop Kiswani from presenting her speech, which was shared widely on social media.
The speech followed ongoing strong organizing for Palestine at CUNY and particularly its law school, where the student body adopted resolutions endorsing the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign against Israel in support of Palestinian liberation. At the same time, the chancellor of CUNY went on a junket to occupied Palestine sponsored by Zionist organizations and then cancelled the Palestine Lives conference, organized by WOL and Existence is Resistance, only days after his return. However, the same week, CUNY Law’s faculty adopted the BDS resolution, calling for justice in Palestine and an end to CUNY complicity.
Zionist organizations, right-wing media and City Councillor Inna Vernikov then unleashed an escalated racist smear campaign targeting Kiswani and the student movement, calling for hearings on the adoption of resolutions supporting Palestine and pulling $50,000 in funding to support legal services for New York residents living in poverty, an unconstitutional violation of the First Amendment. Kiswani has been subjected to racist attacks online, death threats and harassment due to this smear campaign.
It is clear that this campaign is targeting the successful organizing for Palestine taking place at CUNY. We urge all supporters of Palestinian liberation to stand with Nerdeen Kiswani, WOL and the entire movement at CUNY that is substantially challenging complicity and expressing a clear position for Palestinian liberation from the river to the sea.
Take the actions below, recommended by CUNY organizers, against this campaign:
CALL COUNCILWOMAN INNA VERNIKOV
Councilwoman Inna Vernikov
Phone Number: 718-368-9176
Office Hours: Wednesday 9am – 7pm
Hello, my name is [INSERT NAME] and I am calling as a concerned NYC Resident [OR CONCERNED INDIVIDUAL FOR OUT-OF-STATERS]. I am appalled at Councilwoman Inna Vernikov’s behavior. Her racist, Islamaphobic smear campaign against Nerdeen Kiswani and CUNY Law is nothing but an attempt to chill and silence CUNY students and workers organizing in solidarity with Palestine under the guise of antisemitism. This manufactured backlash with zero evidence is not only a clear threat to First Amendment rights to free speech and academic freedom but a failed attempt to punish organizers for the extraordinary victories for Palestinian liberation on CUNY Law’s campus. You do not represent us. We stand firmly with Nerdeen Kiswani, Within Our Lifetime, CUNY Law, and all organizers fighting for Palestinian liberation and we demand that you stop your smear campaign immediately.
CALL CUNY CHANCELLOR RODRIGUEZ:
Phone Number: 646-664-9100
Office Hours: 9am – 5pm
Hello, my name is [INSERT NAME] and I am calling as a disturbed CUNY community member of the CUNY community. It is of grave concern to myself and other CUNY community members that you continue to contribute through your inactions to the defamation; harassment and violent repression of Palestinian, Arab, Muslim, and other CUNY students and workers organizing in solidarity with Palestine. As you continue to deny CUNY’s complicity, even while you take funded trips to the settler-colonial entity, CUNY plans to partake in a meeting masquerading as a “hearing” on antisemitism. This hearing is nothing but an attempt to probe on how to censor and chill organizing efforts for Palestine. It is ironic that no such hearing has been organized for the rampant anti-Black or anti-Palestinian racism on campus. Your participation in such hearing would demonstrate your continued complicity in anti-Palestinian racism and your complicity in actively perpetuating violence against CUNY students and alumni like Nerdeen Kiswani. For that reason, we demand that you refuse to participate and that you condemn the hearing for the sham that it is. We stand firmly with Nerdeen Kiswani, CUNY Law, and all CUNY organizers fighting for Palestinian liberation and we demand that you take action immediately.
- @ChancellorCUNY refuses to listen to Palestinian voices yet takes trips to israel and entertains the zionist lobby seeking to threaten and silence his own students. @CUNY voices are proudly pro-Palestine. You do not represent us! #ZionismOutOfCUNY #WestandwithNerdeen
- The failed hearing on antisemitism is a ruse in which @ChancellorRodriguez & @InnaVernikov seek to silence Palestinian students who rightfully criticize Israel for its state-sanctioned genocide. @CUNY When will you stand up for your students? #ZionismOutOfCUNY #WeStandWithNerdeen
- Zionism has no place in CUNY. Attempts to silence us only make us stronger. #ZionismOutOfCUNY #WeStandWithNerdeen
- @ChancellorCUNY ignores Palestinian students & workers but chooses to platform @InnaVernikov an anti-Palestinian racist. This planned hearing was just an example of trying to silence @CUNY anti-Zionist voices but we grow stronger every day! #ZionismOutOfCUNY #WeChargeDefamation