Bricup Introduction:

In a remarkable reversal, administrators at New York University have acknowledged that their sanctions against a student who made a small gesture of support for Palestinian human rights were unjustified, and they have now compensated the student for their frankly outrageous behaviour. The administrators’ initial behaviour was all too reminiscent of action taken against supporters of Palestine by university administrators elsewhere in the Western world, but the speed and completeness of their corrective action are noteworthy. Following so soon after GWU’s vindication of Lara Sheehi and Bard College’s robust defence of Nathan Thrall, it is tempting to think we have reached a turning point where attempts by pro-Israeli groups to silence supporters of human rights in Palestine by accusing them of antisemitism are treated for what they are: an abuse of internal procedures that threatens the careers of academics and the future prospects of students, which should be treated with the contempt it deserves.

The original report from Palestine Legal published below can be found here.

SUCCESS: NYU Withdraws False Accusations Against Pro-Palestine Graduate Student Worker; Rehires Idriss to Library with Back Pay


After facing public backlash, NYU’s Office of Student Conduct has dropped its false discrimination charge against graduate student worker Naye Idriss, who was accused in November 2022 of antisemitism after she wrote “Fuck” over the word ‘Israel,’ and “Free Palestine” on an Israeli mail bag that had been discarded in the recycling at Bobst Library, where she worked in the mailroom.

Naye, a Lebanese-American Palestine organizer, hadn’t thought much of what she wrote at the time, which she understood to be protected political expression. But NYU, which adopted parts of the controversial IHRA definition of antisemitism into its non-discrimination and anti-harassment policy in 2020, followed Israel lobby organizations by harmfully conflating a declaration of solidarity with the Palestinian people with anti-Jewish hate.

NYU had initially tried to deny Naye—who is a member of GSOC-UAW 2110—her statutory right to union representation at her disciplinary hearing despite the fact that they were accusing her of workplace misconduct. When GSOC intervened and filed a grievance against the university, NYU opened up a second disciplinary process, this time for “vandalism,” through their Human Resources department. They also told Naye she would not be rehired the following semester, which began in January.

Following a campaign of media pressure and union advocacy, including multiple grievances filed by GSOC to the National Labor Relations Board, NYU agreed in a settlement with the union to drop the vandalism charge and rehire Naye to the library, effective immediately. The settlement, which was finalized last week, also included an award for back pay for the time she went without a job. The university also dropped the antisemitism charge in a February 3 email to Naye, stating that the Student Conduct Office considered the matter resolved.

“The fact that I was targeted and almost lost my job for writing a pro-Palestine statement on a piece of trash shows the impact right-wing Israel advocacy groups have on our university administration,” said Naye Idriss. “But by leveraging our collective power as students, workers, and organizers we were able to prove we cannot be intimidated into silence, and that Zionism has no place in our universities.”

In the media coverage of the case, multiple outlets highlighted the absurdity of NYU investigating a student for writing a few words on an empty mailbag left in the trash. During the hearing, the university admitted that it “had suspected it was Naye but didn’t know it was Naye” – confirming that the university singled out one of the only students of Arab descent as the culprit. The other revealing admission was that this vandalism charge would not have been an issue if it were not an anti-Israel message.

“It’s great that collectively, we were able to pressure NYU into dropping these ridiculous charges. But that doesn’t give Naye back the time and energy she spent on this ordeal,” said Palestine Legal staff attorney Dylan Saba. “NYU should apologize to Naye for the harm they caused her and the harassment she received as a result.”

In a statement published on their website, the Middle East Studies Association called on NYU’s president to conduct a review of NYU’s Non-Discrimination and Anti-Harassment Policy to prevent it from being wielded to suppress legitimate political expression. Palestine Legal echoes this call, and further calls on NYU to publicly affirm that criticism of Israel is legitimate political expression.