February 20, 2024

Monday Memo | US Veto on Ceasefire, Testimonies of College Presidents Criticized, Threats to Right-to-Shelter

US Vetoes UN resolution calling for Gaza ceasefire

On December 8, 2023, the United States vetoed a UN Security Council (UNSC) resolution calling for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas war. The veto hindered efforts to stop Israeli bombardments that have killed more than 18, 200 Palestinians in response to Oct. 7 Hamas’ attack that killed 1,147 people in Israel. The resolution came after UN Secretary-General António Guterres invoked Article 99 of the UN Charter for the first time during his tenure, urging the Council members to call for a ceasefire and prevent a “humanitarian catastrophe” in Gaza. 

The resolution, proposed by the United Arab Emirates and co-sponsored by 100 other countries, received 13 votes in favor, with the United Kingdom abstaining in the 15-member council. After the vote, the U.S. deputy ambassador Robert Wood stated that the resolution failed to condemn Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack and to acknowledge Israel’s right to defend itself. 

Following a global backlash on the US veto, Egypt and Mauritania have invoked Resolution 377A (V) to call for an emergency meeting of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) on Tuesday. According to the resolution, if the UNSC cannot maintain global peace due to lack of unanimity, the UNGA can step in.

US Ambassador Alternate Representative of the US for Special Political Affairs in the United Nations Robert A. Wood raises his hand during a United Nations Security Council meeting on Gaza, at UN headquarters in New York City on December 8, 2023. Image Credit:  Charly Triballeau/AFP via Getty Images

Congressional hearing interrogates university presidents over antisemitism on campus

Amid increasing reports of  antisemitism and Islamophobia during the Israel-Hamas war, the US Department of Education has launched several investigations into US colleges and schools. The Republican-led House Committee on Education and the Workforce held a congressional hearing titled “Holding Campus Leaders Accountable and Confronting Anti Semitism” on December 5, 2023.  University Presidents Claudine Gay of Harvard, Sally Kornbluth of MIT, and Elizabeth Magill of UPenn testified, and faced criticism for their institutions’ handling of antisemitism, following the Oct. 7 Hamas attack on Israel.

During the five-hour hearing, Republican Representative Elise Stefanik questioned the university presidents about whether calling for the genocide of Jews violated their schools’ codes of conduct. The presidents did not provide a definitive “yes” or “no” answer, upholding their freedom of speech. Magill responded, “If the speech turns into conduct, it can be harassment,” and Kornbluth and Gay expressed similar views, emphasizing the importance of context.

Accused of providing “evasive” and “indirect” responses, the presidents faced significant bipartisan backlash, including from the White House. Andrew Bates, White House spokesperson stated, “Calls for genocide are monstrous and antithetical to everything we represent as a country.” Donors, politicians and alumni added to the pressure for resignation. After the testimony, Ross Stevens, a major donor to UPenn threatened to withdraw a $100 million gift unless Magill resigned. Subsequently, Magill and Gay apologized and clarified their remarks. Over 70 U.S. lawmakers demanded in a letter that the governing boards of the three universities remove their presidents. Under intense pressure, Magill resigned on Saturday from her position, while other presidents remain under scrutiny. Stefanik posted on social media after Magill’s resignation, “One down. Two to go.”

WASHINGTON, DC – DECEMBER 05: (L-R) Dr. Claudine Gay, President of Harvard University, Liz Magill, President of University of Pennsylvania, Dr. Pamela Nadell, Professor of History and Jewish Studies at American University, and Dr. Sally Kornbluth, President of Massachusetts Institute of Technology, testify before the House Education and Workforce Committee at the Rayburn House Office Building on December 05, 2023 in Washington, DC. The Committee held a hearing to investigate antisemitism on college campuses. Image Credit: Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

Federal Funding Unavailable for NYC Migrant Crisis

Hundreds rallied in Lower Manhattan to defend the Right-to-Shelter law on December 5, 2023. The group called upon Mayor Eric Adams and Governor Kathy Hochul to ensure safe shelter for all in need and to expedite the transition of homeless New Yorkers into permanent housing. On October 7, New York City requested to suspend its right-to-shelter obligation, with Mayor Eric Adams citing strain on the shelter system due to an influx of international migrants. Critics argue that revoking the right to shelter would exacerbate homelessness rather than meaningfully address the migrant crisis.

In an attempt to address the city’s migrant crisis, Adams made a trip to Washington, D.C., on December 7 to seek additional funding. However, he returned disappointed, stating, “Help is not on the way in the immediate future.” He said he had no choice but to proceed with budget cuts to cover a $7 billion deficit.

Hundreds of people gathered outside of the National Museum of the American Indian. Image Credit: Spectrum News NY1

End of Semester Bagel Breakfast

Wednesday, December 13, 9:30 AM – 12:00 PM

The NYU Office of Academic and Student Affairs (OASA) will celebrate the last day of classes over a bagel breakfast from Brooklyn Bagel. (RSVP)

Fall Graduates Toast and End of Semester Celebration

Thursday, December 14th, 4:00 PM – 6:00 PM

Join the Master’s College for a toast to graduating master’s students and a celebration of the end of the fall semester. This event is open to all GSAS Students and Alumni. (RSVP) 

Holiday Food Drive

Donate until Friday, December 15th  

The International Relations department partners with the Department of East Asian Studies and NYU Food Recovery Network in their Holiday Food Drive. Boxes for donations are at the following locations at 19 University Place:

  • Lobby (Ground Floor)
  • East Asian Studies (5th Floor)
  • Program of International Relations (5th Floor)
  • Department of French Literature, Thought, and Culture (6th Floor)

NYU Annual Toy Drive 2023

Donate until Friday, December 15th  

Brighten the holidays for local children at the Flagstone Family Center, which provides holistic support to 160 homeless families in Brooklyn, by donating to the NYU Administrative Management Council’s Toy Drive virtually through Monday, December 11, or in person at donation sites on campus through December 15. Find more information here.

17th Annual Meeting of the Hannah Arendt Circle

The 17th Annual Meeting of the Hannah Arendt Circle, focusing on contemporary issues through the lens of Arendt’s work, will be held at NYU from April 4 to 6. Submissions for a 750-word abstract are due by December 15, 2023, to thehannaharendtcircle@gmail.com. The conference promises to engage interdisciplinary dialogues at the NYU Center for the Humanities, 20 Cooper Square. Find the Call for Abstracts here.

CAPAL’s 2024 Public Service Internship Program

The Conference on Asian and Pacific American Leadership (CAPAL) offers a paid Public Service Internship Program for the Spring, Summer, and Fall of 2024. Open to all current students, the Washington, DC program includes leadership seminars and mentorship. Apply in this link by December 15, 2023, for the Spring 2024 session. More information can be found here

Teaching Assistant Position in the East Asian Department

NYU’s Department of East Asian Studies is hiring a teaching assistant for Spring 2024 (January 22 to May 6) for a Japanese culture course taught by Professor Annmaria Shimabuku. Ph.D. or postgraduate students (M.A. considered) should email their CVs to annmaria.shimabuku@nyu.edu. Responsibilities include leading recitations and grading. Apply by emailing gsas.eas.graduate@nyu.edu for inquiries.

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