Due to a speech at the university’s law school commencement that she called antisemitic, the daughter of the late New York Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan is refusing to attend the opening of a CUNY institution named after her father.
According to Maura Moynihan, 66, the university system has not gone far enough to prevent and denounce antisemitism on its campuses. She declared that she would not attend the Thursday opening of the Moynihan Center, a City College facility devoted to training future public affairs leaders, in protest.
In reference to a May 12 graduation speech by a student who praised the law school as a unique setting where students could, in her opinion, “speak out against Israeli settler colonialism,” Moynihan said: “The speech by Fatima Mousa Mohammed at the CUNY Law School commencement shocked and horrified so many people in New York and around the world.”
Moynihan continued by mentioning how strongly her Irish Catholic father supported Israel. She claimed that by not denouncing Mohammed’s speech,
The City College of New York—which is a part of the CUNY system but runs independently of the law school—is “taking his name in vain.” The Colin Powell School for Civic and Global Leadership at City College houses the Daniel Patrick Moynihan Center.
It will host a number of activities aimed at advancing public scholarship and public service, including two new fellowship programs.
The Leon Levy Foundation, well known for supporting numerous Jewish causes in New York City, such as the Tenement Museum and the Center for Jewish History, awarded the center a grant of almost $7 million.
Following years of attacks on CUNY by Jewish and pro-Israel activists, both inside and outside the university, the younger Moynihan has decided to boycott the institution.
Advocates claim that faculty and students have expressed antisemitism and anti-Zionism at the school, and in response to these claims, the university launched an investigation into antisemitism at the school in 2016.
The report came to the conclusion that, despite being viewed as offensive, the campus chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine did not act in an antisemitic manner.
The law school has been the target of antisemitic accusations, especially recently. Following the school’s faculty and student associations’ endorsement of a boycott of Israel in 2022, the New York City Council held a hearing to question CUNY officials about prejudice against Jews.
Her speech was condemned as “hate speech” on May 30 by CUNY Chancellor Felix Matos Rodriguez and the university’s board of trustees, who claimed it amounted to “a public expression of hate toward people and communities based on their religion, race, or political affiliation.”
According to a spokesman for City College, “we, as a campus, including our centers and institutes, cannot comment on issues that are specific to other colleges.”
The spokesman also stated that “City College, like all schools within the City University of New York system, has an unwavering commitment to all of our students, faculty, and staff.”