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Jewish Activists Demand Ouster of Indian American CUNY Law School Dean for ‘Allowing, Applauding Anti-Israel Hate Speech’

Jewish Activists Demand Ouster of Indian American CUNY Law School Dean for ‘Allowing, Applauding Anti-Israel Hate Speech’

  • Sudha Setty was seen cheering law graduate Fatima Mousa Mohammed whose remarks were condemned by the CUNY board of trustees as “hate speech,” and “hurtful to the entire CUNY community.”

Jewish activists are demanding the ouster of CUNY Law School Dean Sudha Setty for allowing and applauding a grad student’s anti-Israel hate comments. In a May 12 speech, law graduate Fatima Mousa Mohammed used her commencement speech to accuse Israelis of “settler colonialism” and condemn “fascist NYPD,” the Daily Mail reported. The Yemen-born Mohammed said she chose CUNY because it was one of the “few legal institutions… to recognize that the law is a manifestation of white supremacy that continues to oppress and suppress people in this nation and around the world,” the report said. 

Setty was seen applauding Mohammed’s remarks — which were condemned by the CUNY board of trustees as “hate speech,” and “hurtful to the entire CUNY community,” according to the New York Post. 

In a June 14 report in the Post, around 50 protesters declared a “state of emergency” at the state’s public university system. “We have declared a ‘State of Emergency’ at CUNY and organized today’s rally because Jew-hatred has become systemic throughout its schools, and nowhere is it more visible than at the law school,” organizer Gerard Filitti told the Post. A senior counsel of the Lawfare Project, he is a member of the coalition #EndJewHatred, which organized the protest. 

“The activists made several other demands of CUNY,” the Post said. They include “booting any professor who endorsed or approved of Mohammed’s Jew-targeting May 12 commencement speech; implementing mandatory antisemitism training; applying and enforcing the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of antisemitism; punishing students who engage in antisemitism, and banning the practice of allowing students to select a commencement speaker.” 

Meanwhile, “a coalition of Jewish legal groups — The International Legal Forum, National Jewish Advocacy Center and the American Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists — separately urged the American Bar Association to consider stripping the law school of its accreditation, the Post said. 

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New York City Mayor Eric Adams also slammed the speech for Mohammed’s “negativity and divisiveness,” the Daily Mail report said.

Setty was appointed dean of the CUNY School of Law in March, becoming the first person of South Asian descent to lead a CUNY school. Previously dean of the Western New England University School of Law, she became the first woman of South Asian descent in the U.S. to serve as dean of an American Bar Association-accredited law school. At Western New England University School of Law, her deanship has focused on enhancing the social justice work at the school and its commitment to racial justice and diversity, equity and inclusion. She led the creation of its Center for Social Justice in 2019, which provides an organizing framework for the faculty and student work in social justice lawyering; engaging in economic justice, racial justice, LGBTQ+ rights, immigrant rights, access to justice, and other social justice lawyering work, and drawing support from foundations, alumni, and individual donors.

Before that, she served as the school’s associate dean for faculty development and intellectual life. A member of the school’s faculty since 2006, she was named Professor of the Year in 2009, 2016 and 2018.

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