Two Jewish advocacy groups want the IRS to investigate whether City University of New York (CUNY) School of Law violated its tax-exempt status by letting a graduate give a "hate speech" during last month's commencement.
At the May 12 ceremony, Fatima Mohammed called on her fellow classmates to lead the fight "against capitalism, racism, imperialism, and Zionism around the world."
Mohammed also accused Israel of indiscriminately murdering Palestinians, and ripped the NYPD as "fascist" while calling for a "revolution" to take on the legal system's "white supremacy."
In response, the National Jewish Advocacy Center and International Legal Forum wrote to IRS Commissioner Daniel Werfel on June 2 to say that the federal tax agency should review whether the school is engaging in political or lobbying activities that would violate the nonprofit status currently held by CUNY, the New York Post reported.
National Jewish Advocacy Center Director Mark Goldfeder and International Legal Forum CEO and lawyer Arsen Ostrovsky told Werfel in the letter that Mohammed's speech has been denounced by elected and civic leaders because of its "extremist rhetoric, divisive nature and explicit display of anti-Semitism."
Goldfeder and Ostrovsky also said that CUNY Law directly violated the public school's nonprofit status that "prohibits engaging in substantial political or lobbying activities" when faculty unanimously passed a resolution to pass the "discriminatory" boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel on May 12, 2022.
The requested IRS probe comes after Republican state lawmakers demanded that Gov. Kathy Hochul, D-N.Y., withhold taxpayer funds from any CUNY campus that allows incendiary rhetoric at school-sponsored events, the Post reported.
CUNY Board of Trustees and CUNY Chancellor Felix Matos Rodriguez condemned Mohammed's address as "hate speech" and called it "unacceptable." However, the advocacy groups called Rodriguez's response "not only late but also grossly inadequate," accusing the school of a history of antisemitism, the Post reported.
CUNY Law professors, claiming Mohammed's words were protected under the First Amendment, have demanded that the college's administration withdraw its labeling of the remarks as "hate speech."
"The implication that an elected-student speaker at an institution devoted to social justice and human rights was applauded by her peers, faculty, and attendees for engaging in 'hate speech' is an affront to both the student speaker and our entire community," stated the letter signed by dozens of faculty members, Gothamist reported.
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