Thursday, May 09, 2024

  • Thursday, May 09, 2024
  • Elder of Ziyon
Anti-Israel protesters at Purchase College celebrated as they announced that the president of the college, Milagros (Milly) Peña, had caved to every single demand they made.

Over the weekend, it appeared that the college administration  was growing a small backbone in the face of disruptive protests:
SUNY Purchase released a statement, saying students participating in protests were reminded over the past several days that they may assemble protests, vigils, rallies and other free speech activities but only up to the start of quiet hours.
In a statement the school said in part, "Quiet hours are especially important during finals as they respect the rights of Purchase students to sleep, prepare for finals, and complete their final projects."
The statement went on to say, "Protestors were also invited multiple times to meet with the president and cabinet members to voice their concerns, as long as campus rules were followed, including dispersing at midnight from the protest last night. The protestors chose not to take the offer."
But all of that meant nothing, Pena met with the group, "Raise the Consciousness" - which is not a recognized campus student group - and the group announced last night that "we got every single demand!"

“After five-and-a-half hours of negotiating, after five days of working in an encampment at SUNY Purchase for the freedom of Palestine, we were able to get Mili Pena to agree to all of our demands in some capacity and we were able to get everything we wanted,” the speaker says.

Milly Pena

That was an exaggeration, but not much of one. Pena released a statement describing what the college agreed to with the illegal student group:

A commitment that a committee of students will meet with the relevant board to discuss ethical investing;

A commitment to hold in abeyance any disciplinary consequences for those arrested on 5/2 contingent on the students committing no further actions that go against the student code of conduct or local, state, or campus policies;

A commitment to a full review of the incidents of 5/2 by an entity outside of the campus;

A commitment to transparency regarding the companies that engage in business with Purchase College;

In the coming days I will share my thoughts with the campus community recognizing the loss of all innocent lives and how we can further the cause of lasting peace.

Our progress together must be built on a relationship of trust. As was clear from the email from Faculty Presiding Officer Andrew Salomon below, at no point did the college agree to divest from Israel or take any ‘BDS action, (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) nor did we agree to any proposals beyond those described above.

 Why didn't the college agree to boycott Israel? 

Not because of academic freedom. Not because BDS is antisemitic. 

The reason is because New York State has laws against BDS by publicly funded institutions.

The president caving to the demands of students who treated the college with such disrespect is only the tip of the iceberg of the rot at Purchase College. 

The president of Hillel, Esti Heller, wrote a letter to President Pena describing how badly Jews have been treated on campus since October 7. It is a long read but very important.

To President Milagros "Milly" Pena: I have spoken to you many times before. I've met with you. You even came up to congratulate me at my senior showcase. I genuinely believed that we had a good relationship. As a Jewish leader through Hillel, StandWithUs, and the JewishOnCampus student union, I have talked to you countless times about providing a safer community for Jewish students since the first antisemitic incident of this year on September 20, and especially after October 7. Time and again, you assured me you would take action. Time and again, I received no follow up. 

I am writing to you now out of sheer disgust and disappointment at your appeasement of Raise the Consciousness (RTC) after the repeated disruptions, vandalism, and conduct violations they have committed throughout the year, while failing to give any measurable credence to the harassment and bullying consistently reported to you and your senior leadership. You have effectively rewarded bad behavior and offered nothing in the form of support or protection to victims under your purview who have repeatedly asked for your help. Despite all of this, while I was disappointed in your lack of action in support of Jewish students, I had been sure that you would not actively create a hostile environment for us. Now I see that I was wrong. 

Over the course of this year I have brought specific examples of antisemitism from student groups on campus, abuse of power and discrimination from within the student government, and harassment and demonization of Jewish students at Purchase College. I have informed you and your administrators about the organization Samidoun, which is banned in Germany for hosting anti-Jewish rallies and funding the terrorist organization Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), being invited to our campus. I sat with you as an elected student representative accused my friend and I, Hillel board members, of "controlling the student government;" a classic antisemitic trope which you failed to address in the moment, nor since that March 5 meeting. I have forwarded every recorded reference of "intifada", "from the river to the sea", and "isra-hell has got to go" documented from protests held on our campus. I have urged you to take action, whether by adopting the IHRA definition of antisemitism, providing bias training, or simply establishing a safe, moderated space for students of all backgrounds to respectfully discuss their opposing views. Your response to the vitriol that Jewish and Israeli students have been subjected to was to host a healing circle. Out of the approximately thirty students who showed up, only four were there to attend rather than protest. Those four students were all Hillel members. During this event we were jeered at by our peers, taken photos of, and tossed around like props for your photo opportunity. We received no follow up afterwards, even as we were told that we had blood on our hands by our peers. 

President Pena, my senior year should have been spent enjoying my last few moments on the Purchase College campus that I loved. Instead, I spent countless hours responding to antisemitic incidents, comforting Jewish students who were afraid to leave their dorms, and strategically planning a way forward as you refused to do for the affected Jewish students. In the past few days alone I have set aside all of my final exams in order to solely comfort my Jewish and Israeli peers as they navigated this new reality which you enabled; a reality in which their classmates can call for suicide bombings targeting them as well as the death of their ancestral homeland and/or home country with no consequences. I'd like to ask you, President Pena—is this what "think wide open", our school's motto, looks like? Your establishment of "free speech zones" in which these students can protest during finals week, in violation of your own campus policy, has created no go zones for Jewish students. The few of them that are left on campus have been forced to spend hours mapping out their route to class in order to avoid that area due to fear for their safety. Your leadership has caused an exodus of responsible Jewish students who have been unable to exercise their right to education in a safe environment. 

As much as I had faith in your leadership, despite many disappointing meetings throughout this year, I must say your decision making during this time has been nothing short of abysmal. The overwhelming and overly hostile force that you sent the encampment's way on Thursday night, leading to seventy arrests (several of whom were not participants in the protest), only led to an increased support for Raise the Consciousness. Your complete lack of response the following day when the encampment returned only emboldened them to become more radical in their actions. And now, your appeasement of their unrealistic, antisemitic, and illegal demands has shown this campus that as long as one is loud, any action is on the table. 

On Sunday morning at 4:00 am, after hours of calming Jewish and Israeli students, I sent you one last email urging you to take action. The student government, one you oversee, unanimously had approved a BDS resolution and condemned you for denouncing Hamas following the October 7 massacre. They then immediately began to endorse RTC and promote their events, despite the fact that they have never been a registered student organization. This action on account of the student government was exclusionary, divisive, and removed any pro Israel Jew or Israeli from the campus life at SUNY Purchase. I sent you a detailed account of what Jewish and Israeli students were going through. I called upon our past meetings, email exchanges, and begged you to prove to me that you were still an ally. To this day I have not received a response. Instead, I received an email detailing your negotiations with RTC and your agreements to discuss auditing campus vendors in alignment with their calls to divest. 

I have been a Jewish student at SUNY Purchase for four years. I have loved my time on this campus. I was proud of its diversity, commitment to the arts, and the many communities available for students. Now, on this day, I do not recognize it and cannot help but feel a profound sense of disillusionment. My senior year here has been marred by the specter of antisemitism, a scourge that has only grown in strength due to your consistent inaction. I carry with me the heavy weight of disappointment and betrayal, because despite my countless pleas and tireless advocacy, the safety and well-being of Jewish students have been delegitimized. My final days on this campus should have been filled with joy and celebration, but instead, they have been overshadowed by fear and uncertainty. I leave behind a community torn apart by hatred, where we have been forced to flee, to seek refuge elsewhere, because our voices went unheard and our safety was compromised. Until real action is taken to combat antisemitism, my faith in the integrity of this institution remains shattered, and I will continue in my unrelenting fear and concern for the future of Jewish and Israel students at Purchase. Ultimately, you had the power to stop this from happening. I hope you are asking yourself why you did not. 

Respectfully, Esti Heller 

The letter is chilling.

Buy the EoZ book, PROTOCOLS: Exposing Modern Antisemitism  today at Amazon!

Or order from your favorite bookseller, using ISBN 9798985708424. 

Read all about it here!




EoZ Book:"Protocols: Exposing Modern Antisemitism"


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Elder of Ziyon - حـكـيـم صـهـيـون

This blog may be a labor of love for me, but it takes a lot of effort, time and money. For over 19 years and 40,000 articles I have been providing accurate, original news that would have remained unnoticed. I've written hundreds of scoops and sometimes my reporting ends up making a real difference. I appreciate any donations you can give to keep this blog going.


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