Samir Chopra is an associate professor of Philosophy at Brooklyn College (Brooklyn) and the City University of New York Graduate Center (CUNY GC).
On July 28, 2014, Chopra was one of 24 protesters arrested for blocking traffic during an anti-Israel demonstration in front of the Israeli consulate in New York. The protest occurred during Israel’s Operation Protective Edge (OPE), implemented to destroy Hamas attack tunnels and stop rocket attacks from Gaza targeting Israeli civilians.
After his arraignment, Chopra wrote "I would do it again."
Defending Hate Speech
In 2014, The University of Illinois (U of I) withdrew an offer of employment to Salaita after becoming aware of his anti-Semitic tweets. One tweet, posted shortly after Hamas kidnapped three teenage Israeli high school students, read: "You may be too refined to say it, but I’m not: I wish all the f**king West Bank settlers would go missing."
A month later, Salaita tweeted "Zionists: transforming ‘antisemitism’ from something horrible into something honorable since 1948." On July 8, 2014, he tweeted: "There's something profoundly sexual to the Zionist pleasure w/#Israel's aggression. Sublimation through bloodletting, a common perversion."
U of I defended its decision to withdraw the job offer to Salaita in a January 29, 2015 press release, saying: “These statements [his tweets] and many more like them demonstrate that Dr. Salaita lacks the judgment, temperament and thoughtfulness to serve as a member of our faculty in any capacity, but particularly to teach courses related to the Middle East."
After being denied the position at U of I, Salaita took a teaching position at the American University of Beirut (AUB) in Lebanon, where he was employed from 2015 through 2017. The position at AUB was not tenured and so, following the close of the 2017 academic year, Salaita again sought employment.
Unable to find a teaching position “on four continents," Salaita again took to social media, stating on Facebook I “no longer consider myself among the professoriate." Salaita went on to say that “People ask if I would go back in time and change anything. I would not… I will die unapologetic."
Defending Student Militancy
On May 20, 2016, Chopra testified in defense of two SJP activists, Sarah Aly and Thomas DeAngelis, who were among nine Brooklyn College Student Coalition (BCSC) members whose disruptive behavior prompted the shutdown of a Faculty Council meeting on campus.
The students crashed the university’s Faculty Council session to deplore "atrocities committed against students, our communities, and the world that Brooklyn College and CUNY administration must be held accountable for." These “atrocities" ranged from “rising tuition, undercover New York Police Department agents on campus after 9/11", “the lack of Black and Latina/o faculty, blatant disrespect directed towards the Puerto Rican and Latino Studies department and Africana Studies department," and “Brooklyn College’s commitment to all forms of imperialism and settler-colonialism, including, but not limited to Zionism."
Faculty members reported that the students began chanting anti-Jewish epithets, including “Zionists off campus."
After Faculty Council Chair Yedidyah Langsam (who wears a Jewish head covering and a short beard) told the students they were out of order, one student verbally attacked Langsam — calling him a “Zionist pig"
Langsam said that “Once she made that remark" to him, he adjourned the meeting.
Aly later told a staff reporter for the Ditmas Park-Flatbush Patch that a single student admitted to saying “Zionism out of CUNY" — but not “Zionists out of CUNY."
On February 17, 2016, the University president, Karen Gould, admonished BCSC in a campus-wide email, stating: “we find this disruptive behavior unacceptable and the hateful comments especially abhorrent."
Gould also called for an investigation into the offending students’ conduct and for appropriate punitive measures. Aly and DeAnglis were initially charged with violating CUNY’s code of conduct, including intentional obstruction, failure to comply with lawful directions, unauthorized occupancy of college facilities and disorderly conduct.
On May 20, 2016, Chopra disputed the veracity of the charges and urged the administration to "Drop the charges; apologize to the students." The next day, Chopra wrote that “Acquittals don’t address this damage; reparations are due" to Aly and DeAngelis.
On May 31, 2016, the anti-Israel legal advocacy organizations Palestine Legal and Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) represented Aly and DeAngelis at a five hour disciplinary hearing, where they were ultimately charged and admonished by the university with “failure to comply with lawful directions."
SJP was co-founded in 2001 at the University of California at Berkeley (UC Berkeley) by Professors Hatem Bazian and Snehal Shingavi. Bazian served as president of the General Union of Palestinian Students (GUPS) while studying at San Francisco State University (SFSU) and headed the Muslim Students Association (MSA) while earning his M.A. at UC Berkeley. In 2004, while the second intifada was already winding down in Israel, he called for an intifada in the United States.
Shingavi, an activist tied to the International Socialist Organization (ISO), has been criticized for using his literature course as a vehicle for promoting anti-Israel propaganda. SJP has grown to become the primary student movement advancing the Palestinian national agenda on North American campuses and is the primary force behind BDS campaigns at most schools.
SJP activists frequently intimidate and harass Jewish and pro-Israel students. SJP members have physically assaulted Jewish students, aggressively disrupted pro-Israel events and possibly vandalized communal property. SJP rallies regularly include hate-speech and chants such as "Long Live The Intifada" and "From the River to the Sea Palestine will be Free" — calls for violence and for the destruction of the Jewish state.
SJP chapters frequently run inflammatory campaigns against Israel, including BDS resolutions, rallies, Israel-Apartheid initiatives, propaganda comparing Israel to Nazi Germany, mock checkpoints and "die-ins."
Social Media and Web Links
- CUNY GC, Brooklyn College
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