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Jewish NYU student kicked out of campus leadership post for opposing Hamas terrorism reinstated

Justin Feldman, a Jewish grad student at New York University, was a member of student government in good standing when, after the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks that killed 1,200 Israeli civilians, he submitted a resolution condemning the “Endorsement, Promotion, or Excusing of Civilian-Murder (Terrorism) in Academia.”

The day Feldman submitted the resolution for ratification, Nov. 9, it was voted down by the student assembly. A different resolution, to protect pro-Palestinian actions and speech on campus, was passed.

That could have been the end of it. It wasn’t.

Instead, some fellow students decided that the anti-terrorism and anti-antisemitism import of Feldman’s resolution was so problematic that he should not be allowed to serve on student government anymore.

A few weeks later he was informed that a vote would be held to kick him off the student government, prompting a months-long battle that included him being kicked off — then reinstated — to his student government seat.

“I have zero regrets, “ Feldman said in a telephone interview last week with The College Fix.

“I was well aware of the issue of systemic antisemitism on campus when I offered my resolution. I knew exactly what I was doing. I wasn’t expecting it. But I wasn’t exactly surprised to be removed, either,” he said.

Feldman’s resolution was seven pages long. It included references to specific Hamas acts of terror, murder and war on Oct. 7. It also distinguished Hamas from the Palestinian people, and made the argument that the true interests of the Palestinians had been ignored by Hamas.

It also documented some of the antisemitic acts that had been committed on NYU’s campus since Oct. 7, and, though not by name, the student and faculty groups behind them.

It specifically called out Islamophobia as a problem and stated the Student Government Assembly “recognizes the importance of fostering a campus environment that values diversity, inclusivity, and respect for all students, regardless of their national or ethnic background, including Jewish and Israeli students.”

It added the student government “stands in solidarity with innocent Palestinian and Israeli civilians” and “reaffirms its commitment to the values of human rights, justice, and diplomacy and the right to criticize any government or entity.”

In short, it covered all the bases a Jewish student who wished to affirm Jewish needs on campus might present without shortchanging Palestinian considerations.

“I saw that there weren’t any voices from the Jewish community on campus in our student government. I thought there should be a voice,” he told The Fix.

His peers disagreed, arguing he needed to be removed from office because he had allegedly overstepped his mandate as a student government representative by speaking for the whole assembly. Though, according to the rules, all student government representatives are allowed to proffer resolutions.

To get rid of him, the head of student government, Betty Lincoln, had to rewrite the rules. First she sent Feldman a letter on Dec. 11, 2023, stating she would call for “a vote of dismissal and termination of title and powers” at a meeting on Dec. 15.

According to NYU’s student constitution, they needed the votes of a two-thirds majority of students present at the meeting for a no-confidence vote, then they needed a majority to remove him.  Although they did not achieve a majority he was still voted out, Campus Reform reported.

Lincoln did not respond to an email from The College Fix. According to Jewish Link, there is now a university imposed “no contact” order between Lincoln and Feldman.

In an op-ed he wrote for the Jewish Journal, Feldman said he was “singled out by my council president for removal weeks later – simply for voicing opposition to extremist support for terror on campus.”

Feldman told The College Fix he is certain this was done because he is Jewish and pro-Israel.

“I was the only person vocally condemning terrorism on my campus. This was very much anti-Zionist politics. I myself, as a Jew, catalyzed the ‘need’ to remove me,” he said.

Feldman said he sees anti-Zionism as a cover for antisemitism. For him this removal was payback for “humanizing” Jewish concerns.

In the interim, Feldman got a significant amount of publicity. In addition to his op-ed in the Jewish Journal, several Jewish news services wrote stories about this incident as a type of antisemitic campus behavior.

On Jan. 12, NYU administrators responded to the situation, announcing Feldman would be reinstated to the student government while they investigated what had happened, he said.

“I was reinstated for the span of the investigation of the case,” Feldman said. “But it’s an indefinite amount of time. There has been no reversal of that decision.”

The investigation remains pending, he said, adding he doesn’t expect either a reversal or greater absolution. His current contact with the student government is minimal.

Asked what he thought the upshot of the whole set of experiences was, Feldman said, “I think we revealed real institutional failure and hypocrisy in combating the enemies of campus safety. I think it’s clear what the situation for Jews is on this campus these days.”

These days Feldman works with the campus organization he founded, Abrahama.org, which does interfaith work between Jews and Muslims.

Feldman, an international relations and Middle Eastern studies major, will graduate with a masters degree in May. He said he hopes to work in the world of Middle East related think tanks to bring the region together.

MORE: NYU ‘indifference’ to antisemitism violated students’ civil rights: lawsuit

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