April 18, 2024
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College Cancels Anti-Israel Film Following Protests

A tide of protests and negative publicity generated by the Borough of Manhattan Community College’s plan to show a film that has been criticized by Israel and Jewish groups for showing Israeli soldiers executing a Palestinian family during the War of Independence prompted the college to cancel the event the day before it was to be held.

The March 31 screening of the Jordanian film “Farha” was to be part of the college’s Palestinian Solidarity. Students attending the screening would have received one credit. The film is set in 1948 and depicts the Palestinian diaspora through the eyes of a 14-year-old girl.

A pro-Palestinian display erected earlier this month as part of the series accused Israel of “occupying” Palestinian land and “ethnic cleansing.” The college removed the exhibit from its website after it prompted a flood of complaints. The display, “Visual Timeline of Occupied Palestinian Land,” which was outside the vice president of student affairs’ office in a heavily trafficked area, is also gone.

The film’s cancellation was announced in a triumphant tweet the evening of March 30 by S.A.F.E. CUNY (Students and Faculty for Equality), a group of 300 pro-Zionist professors, staff and students.

“After a massive pressure campaign by S.A.F.E. CUNY, Stop BDS on Campus and other allies, Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC) today canceled a college-funded and sponsored antisemitic “Farha” movie event previously scheduled for tomorrow,” it read and called the outcome “a huge success.”

Avraham Goldstein, an assistant professor of mathematics and a board member of S.A.F.E. CUNY, said various individuals received word of the cancellation through the email, “[email protected].” Goldstein searched through the college’s mail system and couldn’t find anything about the mysterious account.

“What is weird in their reply, is that (1) It is not signed by anyone; (2) IT uses the language “I” (“after I learned… I ordered…”) so it is clear that some high-ranking administrator is writing it, but hides his/her name; (3) Some dates in that email are incorrect,” Goldstein said in an email to The Jewish Link.

The offending display not only accused Israel of “settler colonialism” and “military occupation,” but also featured such allegations as the removal of indigenous plants to put in “European invasive species.”

Included was a QR code linking to information on Students for Justice in Palestine and Within Our Lifetime, whose website states, “We uphold the right of all Palestinian refugees to return to their homeland in all of historic Palestine from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea. This requires that we stand against the entirety of the Zionist settler-colonial project and for the national liberation of all of Palestine so that those in exile can return to live in freedom and dignity.”

The phrase “from the river to the sea”” has been used by terrorist organizations and is widely understood to mean a call for a Palestinian state that would encompass the entirety of Israel, implying there would be no more Jewish state.

The exhibit was funded by the college’s Social Justice and Equity Center, formed with money from the college’s President’s Fund for Excellence and Innovation.

The president’s fund was formed through a $30 million donation in December 2020 from philanthropist MacKenzie Scott—the ex-wife of Jeff Bezos.

In response Goldstein and Jenna Hirsch, an associate professor of mathematics at the college, wrote President Anthony Munroe and members of the Social Justice and Equity Center asking, in line with the Palestinian series, another be presented on the indigenous rights of the Jewish people and Zionism

By Debra Rubin

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