Pace University Ignores Anti-Semitism, Threatens Jewish Student Group · 08 January 2007

By Pace Hillel

Pace University, New York

For Immediate Press Release 
January 8, 2007                             
Contact: Michael Abdurakhmanov
(646) 691 - 8172         
                                                    
New York, NY – In a move that demonstrated intolerance toward the Jewish faith, Pace University recently tried to silence Hillel, a Jewish student organization, when the group attempted to show a film about Radical Islam and its war against the West. The film, "Obsession," was to be one of the events during "Judaism Awareness Week" (Nov 13 – 17th).

Hillel's President, Michael Abdurakhmanov, wrote a letter to the President of MSA (Muslim Student Association) notifying her that Hillel was planning to show the film, and inviting MSA to collaborate and host a speaker of their choice in conjunction with the showing of the film, in an effort to depict both viewpoints.

Rather than replying to Hillel, MSA's President wrote a letter to the Dean of Students, Dr. Marijo Russell O'Grady, protesting that the movie is offensive to Muslim students. In her letter, the MSA President stated that the film portrays Islam and Muslims as terrorists, and that it "promotes hatred of Islam." Pace administrators then warned Hillel not to show the film, and implied that if they did show it, the administration would have the New York Police Department look into Hillel members as potential suspects in recent hate crimes against Muslim students. There is no evidence of ties between Hillel members and the hate crimes. Apparently, the spurious allegations concocted by the administrators were an effort to bully Hillel into compliance.

There have been recent hate crimes against members of both the Jewish and Muslim faiths at Pace University, but the school only publicized the incidents involving Muslim students and reacted with indifference to the anti-Jewish hate crimes. Only the anti-Muslim incidents were the subject of Police Department investigations.

A few days later, MSA and the dean called a professional mediation meeting, with Mr. Abdurakhmanov as the only representative of Hillel. The entire Pace administration sided with MSA, so the meeting took on the flavor of eight against one, with even the mediators evincing bias. The meeting opened with the president of MSA presenting a litany of false accusations directed against Hillel members, and used profanity to get her point across. She claimed that if Hillel showed this film, they would be encouraging hate and the crimes that had previously occurred at Pace. Hillel's president, Mr. Abdurakhmanov, was physically restrained and silenced. When he tried to speak up in defense of the film and his club, Assistant Dean, David Clark twice physically pushed him back into his seat in an effort to silence him.

When offered the opportunity to view the entire film in a private screening, to prove that the film is only about a violent radical stream of Islam and not about ordinary peaceful Muslims, both MSA and the administrators refused. As a result of their inability to reason with deaf ears, Hillel conceded and withdrew their plans to show the film.

At the time, Hillel did not want to take legal action or go public with this story, fearing potential repercussions from an administration worried about media attention. But the incidents which followed convinced them to inform the wider public about the injustices at Pace.

In the days and weeks following the incident, Hillel's budget requests were largely denied, paperwork that Hillel had filled out mysteriously disappeared from Dean Clark's office, causing delays and cancellations of planned Hillel events. A Campus Menorah was desecrated. A swastika was drawn on a Holocaust memorial event poster. Instead of labeling the events "hate crimes," as they did when the Koran was put in a toilet, Pace's administration is calling the events "bias incidents."

In response, Hillel has teamed up with the campus Republican Club, who will jointly host a screening of the film during the spring semester, possibly early in March, regardless of pressure from MSA and the Pace administration. Defiantly, they will not allow their voices and concerns to be suppressed. Their stance is that the threat of Radical Islam concerns all of us, Muslims and non-Muslims alike, an urgent issue that is widely avoided by academia. Hillel and the Republican Club will take a stand for their fundamental rights as students and citizens of the United States to express their point of view and to assemble as a campus club for that purpose.


###