There are growing calls for CUNY to lose government funding after a pro-Palestine graduate student’s commencement speech used the speech to denigrate Israel, the NYPD, the US armed forces and politicians premises after receiving his subsidized education.
Fatima Mousa Mohammed was chosen by her classmates as the 2023 commencement speaker at the CUNY Law graduation ceremony on May 12.
His 13-minute speech only became public after CUNY uploaded it to YouTube. Initially, the school kept it private.
In his remarks, Mohammed – whose family is Yemeni but grew up in Queens – called the NYPD “fascist”, accused New York City Mayor Eric Adams of condoning the “murder”, called the law of “manifestation of white supremacy” and accused the Israelis of “settler colonialism”.
Fatima Mousa Mohammed was chosen by her classmates as the 2023 keynote speaker at the CUNY Law graduation ceremony on May 12. His remarks about Israel, Palestine, the NYPD and the armed forces sparked an outcry
His remarks sparked fury and fear among Jewish groups, who are now demanding to know why the CUNY allowed such pro-Palestinian comments at the opening ceremony for a second year.
Last year’s speaker, Nerdeen Kiswani, is also a pro-Palestine activist who used her remarks to comment on the conflict with similar vehemence.
“I faced a campaign of Zionist harassment by well-funded organizations with ties to the Israeli government and military,” she said.
She then called a school-organized trip to Israel “an affront to everyone at CUNY who is fighting for liberation.”
CUNY has yet to speak out against either speech.
In a statement, a school spokesperson said only that the opening remarks reflected the views of students, not those of the school.
The early 2022 speaker was Nerdeen Kiswani, a pro-Palestine activist who used her remarks to comment on the conflict with similar vehemence. “I faced a campaign of Zionist harassment by well-funded organizations with ties to the Israeli government and military,” she said. She then called a school-organized trip to Israel “an affront to everyone at CUNY who is fighting for liberation.”
Kiswani thanked the school for allowing him to use his speech to make the remarks last year
Kiswani is a passionate pro-Palestine activist who demonstrated alongside Bella Hadid. Hadid, whose father Mohammed Hadid was born to a Palestinian Muslim family in Nazareth, found herself in hot water for commenting on the dispute
Mohammed (left) and Kiswani (right) were chosen to speak by their classmates. CUNY has yet to speak out against either woman’s remarks. The school’s only statement so far has been that their remarks represent their own views, not those of the university.
CUNY’s 2023 operating budget request revealed that the university receives $2.8 billion from all three levels of government
There are now growing calls among New York taxpayers and politicians to strip CUNY of its funding.
The annual tuition cost at CUNY Law is $15,000. The national average is $50,000.
The grant is largely due to the funding CUNY receives for its 25 colleges from the three branches of government.
In 2022, CUNY received $2.8 billion in government funding; $2 billion from New York State, $527 million from New York City, and $312 million from federal education programs, according to CUNY’s 2023 budget request.
The administrators have requested an additional $400 million in total for this year and have also proposed a fee freeze.
New York Governor Kathy Hochul and New York City Mayor Eric Adams both proposed cuts earlier this year ahead of the commencement speeches saga.
Outraged by his remarks, CUNY law professor Jeffrey Lax is among those demanding action.
In an interview with Newsmax over the weekend, he called Mohammed’s speech “the most disturbing debut speech” he had ever heard.
“To my ears, this was a blatant call for American insurrection. It calls for rage. She uses the word rage to fuel the fight against capitalism and Zionism.
Outrage: Many are calling on CUNY to lose the billions it receives in funding
“A whole people. It is a step before calling for violence. If violence results, the CUNY law is to blame.
“Students have a right to free speech even when they’re horribly wrong. But I hold the administration accountable here, entirely because.
“The administration reviews almost every student commencement speech that I have ever heard of.
“I’m sure it happened here too, and they tolerated that talk and put it out there.
“They are responsible.”
He is part of SAFE CUNY, a group that “defends Zionist Jews who are systematically discriminated against and excluded by CUNY and the teachers’ union.”
Others, including Republican politicians in New York, are also calling for cuts.
“Beyond despicable, this blatant anti-Semitism has been allowed to take hold at a taxpayer-funded university here in New York City,” Rep. Anthony D’Esposito said.
Council member Ari Kagan called the remarks “vile”, “un-American” and “anti-Israeli”.
“Graduation speech totally unacceptable for a taxpayer-funded institution. CUNY should immediately condemn this hate speech and take all necessary steps to deal with such dangerous rhetoric.
“This hateful and dangerous speech was brought to you by CUNY and paid for by the taxpayers of New York.
“Keep that in mind the next time our elected leaders highlight their commitment to fighting anti-Semitism,” said New York State Assemblyman Himcha Eisenstein.