Each time I walk into my office at Kingsborough Community College, I draw inspiration from a picture of my father, Leon Goldstein, the school’s president for 29 years and the man who built the college’s modern-day campus.
Yet in recent months, anti-Semites turned my father’s photo from a source of inspiration into a symbol of destruction. The vandalism marked the start of a systematic and pernicious campaign in which I have been targeted and harassed because of who I am and what I believe.
I’ve worked at Kingsborough for 20 years, and within the City University of New York network for 30 years. The anti-Semitic vandalism and death threat perpetrated outside my office this past February was unlike anything I’ve experienced before.
The reason for their attack? I’m Jewish, politically conservative and I believe in Zionism, the civil rights movement of the Jewish people.
The vandals defaced a photo of my father with anti-Semitic graffiti, including the words “F–k Trump Goldstein, Kill the Zionist Entity.” I later learned the incident came one day after Kingsborough Professor Katia Perea apparently told an administrator who refused her request to fire me, “I guess I will have to handle this myself.”
Perea, whom I have never met or spoken to, is a member of the Progressive Faculty Caucus, a radical faculty group at Kingsborough. This was my jarring introduction to the PFC and its unending campaign of harassment and belittlement. It was also my introduction to the inertia of the Kingsborough and CUNY administrations. Kingsborough declined to classify February’s anti-Semitic vandalism as a hate crime and denied my requests for added security.
This was just the beginning.
In May, more than 1,000 flyers were distributed around campus calling for my firing and attributing vile, false allegations of racism, sexism and anti-Muslim sentiments to me.
I’ve never promoted any of my private or religious opinions in the classroom — or anywhere else on campus. Nor have I held any of the hateful views the flyers attached to me. In her earlier attempt to get me fired, Perea went from office to office showing staff my private Facebook photos as her “evidence” that I’m racist and sexist. The PFC’s efforts then escalated into what the flyers described as an imperative to “build a movement” against me.
And that’s exactly what it has been — an orchestrated, aggressive movement to destroy me. May’s flyers included a picture of my 13-year-old daughter. I’ve chaired a food committee at Kingsborough for eight years, and suddenly, a PFC member new to the committee began investigating my activity.
I fear for my safety. I now have full-time security provided by the school. But it only came after many months of complaints and PFC’s recent attack on Kingsborough’s provost, Joanne Russell, a devout Christian.
The PFC shows no signs of abating until I’m removed from Kingsborough, my second home for 20 years. They freely admit to their targeted harassment of me, and they are proud of it. For that reason, with the help of The Lawfare Project, I filed a complaint with the EEOC and the NY State Division of Human Rights.
The group’s activities are not only directed towards me. Over the past year alone, at least five complaints by Jewish staff members have been filed against the PFC internally with CUNY.
Sadly, such discrimination against Jews isn’t limited to Kingsborough or CUNY. Other high-profile incidents of anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism on campuses include University of Michigan, UCLA, Stanford University, Tufts and Connecticut College. The list goes on and on.
None of this has anything to do with academic freedom or free speech. This is about anti-Semitism and religious discrimination, pure and simple. There is no longer a safe space in academia for individuals with opposing views — especially if you are Jewish or pro-Israel.
Goldstein is an administrator and an adjunct professor of communications and government relations at Kingsborough Community College.