I am a CUNY person. I got my undergraduate from CUNY Thomas Hunter Honors program undergraduate, summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa. I triple majored, and even took an English minor because I loved my school so much. I was a member of Hillel, and served on the board of two student groups. Now I am finishing my masters degree at Hunter and still steer people to attend my alma-mater.
Therefore, I am writing to express my shock that CUNY would sponsor a program that has no educational merit. According to the press release for papers, Homonationalism and Pinkwashing at The Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies, CUNY Graduate Center will discuss Israel’s strong record on LBGT human rights as a “increasingly potent tool in the long-running Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”
This isn’t a discussion of Israel by two fair parties, it’s not even a discussion. The three primary participants all share entirely similar views on Israel.
- Jasbir Puar, a Rutgers professor who has refered to Israel as a totalitarian regime and claims that “Israel justifies its violence” by beliving that “Palestinians are too backwards, uncivilised, and unmodern to have their own state, much less treat homosexuals properly.”
- Judith Butler, a professor in Rhetotic and Comparative Literature who is a self indentified “anti-Zionist Jew,” and who condemned a protest against Israel because it did not call for the end of Zionism.
- Haneen MaiKey, head of Al-Qaws (“the rainbow” in Arabic) for Sexual and Gender Diversity in Palestinian Society who talks of “63 years of occupation,” (meaning the entire state of Israel on 1948 borders) and supports the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement, a movement previously discussed as a Trojan horse of human rights bent on the destruction of Israel?
For a system committed to diversity, there is no diversity of thought here. For a discussion of Israeli policies, it’s note-worthy to note no actual Israelis were asked to participate. Although Haneen MaiKay is an Israeli citizen, she clearly doesn’t exemplify the mainstream Israel. It’s a discussion about Israel without Israel, something that is educationally unethical.
Despite my objections, I do not ask that you cancel the event. Academic freedom of speech is a virtue and the broadness of opinion should be celebrated. Therefore, I ask that the event be broadened to include all sides of the issue.
Why not invite Itai Pinkas, an openly gay member of the Tel Aviv city council or Uzi Even of the Meretz party, a former member of the Knesset who was also openly gay? For a real treat, invite the incredibly talented Dana International, a star of the Israeli music scene who is transexual. Why not invite Eytan Fox, who wrote Yossi and Jagge, the exploration of homosexuality in the Israeli army? Why not extend invitations to Israeli LBGT groups and let them speak for themselves?
In Hunter, I was taught to hear all sides before coming to a decision and I hope that is a tradition that will continue.
Please, continue to be a fair and open-minded institution, the kind I am proud to be a part of as a student and soon to be alumnae? Make this a fair discussion.
Elke Weiss, class of 2008, future class of 2013