Please take a moment, listen


To the editor:

Councilman Eric Dinowitz published a news release in late April lamenting — in bold letters, no less — what he described as “disturbing images and videos from the protests at Columbia University.” 

Throughout his statement, Dinowitz painted much of the Columbia encampment as “antisemitic,” and a “threat to Jewish students.” 

We Bronx constituents, who are Jewish and non-Jewish, are appalled at Dinowitz’s smears of a peaceful protest. Implicit in Dinowitz’s statement are multiple reasons to be alarmed:

• Dinowitz’s rhetoric fuels a narrative, which lays the groundwork for a legitimate student protest to be violently “contained” (similar to 1970’s Kent and Jackson state tragedies) by the New York Police Department or National Guard.

• What are the chants the councilman claims “intimidate”? “From the River to the Sea, Palestine Will Be Free,” which is no more than a call for justice? To say Palestine will be free means for all people.

The use of the word “intifada,” which in English means to “rise up and resist”? Would Mr. Dinowitz have objected to the word “resistance” during the Civil Rights protests of the ‘60s? The same principle applies today.

In the news release, Mr. Dinowitz goes even further and fails to recognize the large number of Jewish students who have helped organize the protest — students who have held Seders in the encampment, many who have been harassed by Zionist faculty, suspended or expelled by Columbia, or arrested by the NYPD for exercising their civil rights. 

More than 100 faculty members have rallied to support the pro-Palestinian students. Students of Columbia, New York University, CUNY and more than 30 other colleges and universities across the country have demonstrated the moral courage to stand up against genocide — a character trait which must be fostered in all generations.

We urge Mr. Dinowitz to recognize, reach out, and talk in-depth with students from the protest movement — including the many Jewish organizers.

As a councilman, it is proper he listen to New York voices, and join his 18 City Council colleagues in calling for a resolution for ceasefire to end the suffering in Gaza.

Such is a stand any politician who values human rights and peace should be proud to take.

Anita Dutt

The author writes on behalf of a group that includes Janet Clarke, Pam Sporn, Marianne Pita, Jade Fernandez, Jose Alfero and Jonathan Lessuck

Anita Dutt