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NYU Graduation Speaker Calls Israel 'Apartheid', Urges Boycotts of Jewish State

05-24-2019

The commencement speaker at New York University's Graduate School of Arts & Science used his speech to publicly label Israel an "apartheid" state and endorsed the ant-Israel Boycott, Sanctions, and Divestment (BDS) movement.

"I am so proud, so proud of NYU's chapters of Students for Justice in Palestine and of Jewish Voice for Peace, and of GSOC, and of the NYU student government, and of my colleagues in the Department of Social and Cultural Analysis for supporting the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement against the apartheid state government in Israel — because this is what we are called to do, this is our NYU legacy," said the newly-graduated Dr. Steven William Thrasher.

Other graduates voiced their support with applause and cheers.

"We must stand together to vanquish racism and Islamophobia and antisemitism and injustice and attacks on women and attacks on abortion rights in Tel Aviv, and Shanghai, and Abu Dhabi, New York City, Atlanta, Washington, Los Angeles, San Francisco and everywhere in the world," he added.

Thrasher is a journalist and will begin teaching at Northwestern's Medill School of Journalism. He has written for Buzzfeed, the New York Times, the Guardian, Esquire, and the Atlantic.

The speech received backlash but Thrasher doubled down.

"I think 'NYU Graduation Speaker Calls Trump 'Fascist,' Endorses BDS' is the best headline a conservative outlet has ever used to post about me," he wrote on Twitter.

NYU President Andrew Hamilton apologized for Thrasher's speech and said the doctorate graduate did not include his comments about BDS in the version of the speech he submitted for approval.

"We are sorry that the audience had to experience these inappropriate remarks," he said in a statement. "A graduation should be a shared, inclusive event; the speaker's words -- one-sided and tendentious -- indefensibly made some in the audience feel unwelcome and excluded."

Hamilton also denounced the BDS movement.

"Let me use this occasion to reaffirm the University's position -- NYU rejects academic boycotts of Israel, rejects calls to close its Tel Aviv campus, and denounces efforts to ostracize or exclude those in the University community based on their location in Israel, their Israeli origin, or their political feelings for Israel," Hamilton added.

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