Saturday, June 19, 2021. New York City – Zionists are attacking Palestinian woman Nerdeen Kiswani. Nerdeen is from Jerusalem, she is the founder of Within Our Lifetime and she is a law student at the City University of New York (CUNY).
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“CUNY Law Student Government and CUNY for Palestine stand in solidarity with WOL’s chair and CUNY Law student Nerdeen Kiswani @nerdeenk, who continues to face anti-Palestinian racism and abuse from zionists calling for her expulsion due to her leading role in the movement for Palestinian liberation,” says Within Our Lifetime.
(6/17/2021) Student Government Statement in Solidarity with Nerdeen Kiswani.
CUNY Law Student Government’s statement below.
CUNY School of Law Student Government signed onto the student demands issued on March 26 in the wake of the revelation of the anti-Black harm principally caused by Mary Lu Bilek before her departure from the Law School.
At this time, CUNY School of Law Student Government reaffirms its support of the student organizing efforts and extends its support to the addendum issued by student organizers on April 23. In their addendum, student organizers make several demands of CUNY School of Law in solidarity with our Palestinian and Jewish colleagues. Student Government pledges to see that these demands are met to the extent that our Palestinian and Jewish colleagues wish to see them met and built upon.
In solidarity with Nerdeen Kiswani, Rising 3L and founder of Within Our Lifetime, student organizers demand:
- CUNY School of Law must issue a statement acknowledging that Nerdeen Kiswani is experiencing a form of anti-Palestinian racism that is often dismissed and invalidated by mislabeling Palestinian Liberation as an anti-semitic cause.
- CUNY School of Law must do all that is within its power to prevent any of the racist abuse that Nerdeen Kiswani continues to endure from negatively impacting her as she enters her final year at CUNY School of Law and begins making post-graduation plans.
- CUNY School of Law must publicly refuse calls to silence CUNY Law students, faculty, and staff who are affiliated with SJP, JLSA, and movement for a free Palestine broadly.
In solidarity with our colleagues in Jewish Law Student Association of CUNY School of Law (JLSA), which has been a leader in the fight against anti-Palestinian racism at CUNY, student organizers demand:
- CUNY School of Law must refrain from invoking concerns over the safety of its Jewish students without first consulting JLSA. CUNY Law has repeatedly harmed its Jewish students while claiming to be keeping them safe.
- CUNY School of Law must refrain from giving in to the racist attack mobs that continue to target visible anti-racist, anti-zionist students and faculty, specifically Palestinian and Jewish organizers.
- CUNY School of Law must acknowledge that it has actively undermined the political commitments and organizing efforts of JLSA to protect and defend Palestinian members of the campus community. CUNY School of Law must meaningfully acknowledge the harm caused by forcing JLSA to fight this institution to protect their colleagues.
Since the issuance of this addendum, Nerdeen Kiswani continues to experience the racist vitriol that comes with being at the forefront of the Palestine Liberation movement and the broader, global movement against colonialism and imperialism. Nerdeen is the target of yet another racist smear campaign, which includes threats against her life.
In this moment of increased consciousness-raising and solidarity with Palestinians living in Palestine and with the Palestinian diaspora, Student Government believes that its support of our colleague Nerdeen Kiswani can no longer be on an individual basis or behind closed doors. We believe in Nerdeen Kiswani and her leadership and it is our honor to share our campus community with her.
Student Government calls on CUNY School of Law to issue a statement in solidarity with Nerdeen Kiswani, making it clear that CUNY School of Law will not give in to calls to discipline or expel Nerdeen or to intimidate and silence any Palestinian student fighting oppression.
By being a bystander to the racist smears directed at Nerdeen, CUNY School of Law lends this institution to the cause of denying and continuing the occupation of Palestine and the genocide of the people of Palestine.
On June 9, Interim Dean Capulong shared with student organizers that, at least for now, he is restricted from commenting for the institution following the June 7 CUNY for Palestine email and that CUNY Central is apparently drafting a uniform response. Student Government is in agreement that this is disappointing and unacceptable. Student organizers will meet with senior administration on June 30th in hopes that regardless of CUNY Central’s position, CUNY School of Law will lead in the fight against zionism at CUNY. CUNY School of Law must put the weight of the institution behind Nerdeen Kiswani and her comrades in struggle.
While many of us also come from underrepresented backgrounds and carry our own histories of displacement, discrimination, and white supremacist violence, we are also all lawyers-in-training. There are people without the comfort and protections of our educational and professional trajectories who have given far more, and as a consequence, have lost far more than many of us have in the name of Palestine.
One piece of wisdom that the late scholar and the father of Critical Race Theory (CRT) Derrick Bell leaves us with is to, as we continue our professional and educational journeys, know what you want the impact of your work to be and hold yourself accountable to your desired impact. CUNY School of Law articulates its mission as “Law in the Service of Human Needs”, recognizing traditional legal education and legal practice as fundamentally white supremacist by design. CUNY School of Law was founded to train social justice lawyers and legal advocates to “right wrongs” and to lawyer in the interest of social movements. As we experience this moment of reckoning and revolution together, we must guarantee the safety of our colleagues who are doing just that by demanding an end to the continued exploitation and theft of Palestinian lands.
Students, staff, and faculty, must come together to push this institution in the direction of loud and unwavering anti-zionism. We recognize the labor and commitments of CUNY Law faculty and instructors who have signed onto a statement in solidarity with Palestine. This statement should be signed by all faculty and instructors and the commitments therein should be reflected in all instruction students receive. Furthermore, the institution’s commitment to Palestinian liberation should be reflected in its admission processes, scholarship and grant opportunities, hiring and tenure processes, community education efforts, and any and all relationships that the institution builds. Solidarity is not a singular action taken to placate those demanding it. Understanding that the oppression and liberation of all people is intertwined, our solidarity with Palestine must be unwavering and it must start now.
The occupation of Palestine is a crisis of white supremacy. The occupation of Palestine is as urgent as anti-semitic violence, the recent rise in Asian-directed violence, and the long standing tradition of public lynchings of Black people. The occupation of Palestine is a social justice issue and it demands both our attention and action.
This statement is made with the support of the following student organizations at CUNY School of Law:
- Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP)
- The Jewish Law Student Association (JLSA)
- The Muslim Law Students Association (MLSA)
- The Black Law Student Association (BLSA)
- The South Asian Law Student Association (SALSA)
- The Latin American Law Student Association (LALSA)
- The CUNY Law Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild (NLG)
- Formerly Incarcerated Law Students Advocacy Association (FILSAA)
- If/When/How: Lawyering for Reproductive Justice at CUNY Law
- The Women of Color Collective at CUNY Law (WOCC)
- OUTLaws at CUNY School of Law
- City University of New York Law Review
- CUNY School of Law Student Labor Coalition
- CUNY Law Irish Law Student Association (ILSA)
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