Yeshiva University Cancels Pro-Palestinian Speaker at Cardozo Law School

By: Danielle Lane  |  March 15, 2022

By Danielle Lane, Managing Editor

In a press release on March 15, 2022, Cardozo School of Law students, Sydney Artson and Heidi Sandomir, accused President Rabbi Dr. Ari Berman of censoring a pro-Palestinian speaker they had arranged to speak to Cardozo students. According to their statement, “[l]ess than a week before the event, on Thursday, February 24th, the Dean of Cardozo informed us that Rabbi Dr. Ari Berman, President of Yeshiva University, moved to cancel our event without our consent. We then discovered that the school canceled our room reservation and catering order.”

The event, which was scheduled for March 1, 2022, featured Professor Dr. Rabab Abdulhadi, the founder and director of the Arab and Muslim Ethnicities and Diasporas Studies Program at San Fransico State University. Dr. Abdulhadi was invited by Artson and Sandomir, co-presidents of the Cardozo on Israel and Palestine club (CIP), to speak on “forms of activism for liberation in Palestine” and “her professional experiences teaching about and advocating for Palestinian rights.”  

The organizers of the event claim that “Dr. Abdulhadi has been falsely accused of antisemitism, a known tactic to silence individuals criticizing the Israeli government…and frequently collaborates with several Jewish organizations as a community leader and academic” and that “Yeshiva University’s censorship is offensive to Dr. Abdulhadi’s prestige, integrity, and intellectual labor.” 

These claims of antisemitism come after a 2018 Facebook post in which Abdulhadi stated that she found the “welcoming Zionists to campus… to be a declaration of war against Arabs, Muslims, Palestinians…” and a 2019 lecture at the University of California Los Angeles at which Abdulhadi stated that she feels that the state of Israel had committed colonialism actions. Abdulhadi is also “a founding member of the US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott (USACBI), as part of the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement.”

At the time of the press release, a petition with 120 signatures signaled Cardozo student’s opposition to the event being canceled.

In canceling the event, the organizers argued that President Berman undermined “the purpose of law school.” Artson and Sandomir explained, “Exposing law students to myriad politics and narratives is the best approach to equip and prepare students for legal practice. It seems that Yeshiva University affords greater deference to the interests of the few over that of the student body, namely the interest in educational freedom.”

When reached for comment, the event heads expressed to the YU Obsever, “As Jewish women, we reject any accusations linking us to antisemitism and we condemn the implication that criticism of the Israeli government is antisemitic. The ability to engage controversial topics is fundamental to our Jewish identities, and is equally essential to the study of law. Further, Cardozo has previously invited controversial speakers, such as Noel Francisco and Bob Barr, who are explicitly linked to violence. As Co-Presidents of a student organization committed to peace, inquiry, and dialogue, we recognize and uplift diverse voices and lived experiences of marginalized communities. Fear of the beliefs with which one disagrees does not excuse unjust censorship. To quote the namesake of our school, Justice Benjamin N. Cardozo, ‘Freedom of expression is the matrix, the indispensable condition, of nearly every other form of freedom.’”

Photo Credit: Cardozo Website