Statement by CUNY Chancellor Matos Rodríguez on an Uptick in Anti-Semitic and Hate Incident


“The recent wave of anti-Semitic violence and bigotry in New York City and the nation is the latest manifestation of a climate of hate that has increasingly infected the country in recent years.

“It is a poison of xenophobia and intolerance that has targeted virtually every racial, religious and ethnic minority — from the Islamophobia that followed the attacks of 9/11 and still rears its ugly head today, to the despicable acts of violence against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) during the pandemic. It has become intertwined with the extremist political violence we saw at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. We continue to denounce this deplorable behavior and work against the hatred that feeds it.

“The uptick of incidents against American Jews in recent weeks is ostensibly a reaction to intensified conflicts in the Middle East. The conflict has also triggered acts of hatred against Muslims. But make no mistake: There is never a time when violence against members of any religious or ethnic group, or their places of worship, can be accepted as a response to even the most heated political disagreement. It is no longer enough to simply say that we don’t condone such behavior in our campuses; we must actively condemn those who express their anger through violence.

“CUNY, which is arguably the country’s most diverse University, has not been immune to these tensions. Over the past five years, we have taken concrete steps to elevate dialogue and build bridges between people of different backgrounds and political passions. Our Center for Ethnic, Racial, and Religious Understanding at Queens College (CERRU), for instance, addresses the perils of racial and ethnic stereotyping and scapegoating through workshops, panel discussions, and programs. Likewise, in all our CUNY campuses we have programs, initiatives, and courses that promote difficult conversations, tolerance, and civic engagement. And with the support of a generous grant from the Mellon Foundation, we are reimagining our academic programs in Black, race, and ethnic studies.

“It is incumbent on all of us in higher education to commit to examining through our teaching the roots of anti-Semitism, extremism, and hate, and dismantling the many manifestations of bigotry that have emerged and continue to spread. Disagreement and discord may be inevitable features of our diverse and heterogeneous society, but hate is never acceptable.”