Three Jewish students, Bella Ingber, Sabrina Maslavi and Saul Tawil have filed a lawsuit against New York University alleging that the school failed to protect them from antisemitism hatred. According to an ABC News report, the lawsuit says antisemitism has worsened since the start of the Israel-Hamas war on October 7.
The NYU juniors filed the lawsuit on Tuesday in Manhattan federal court. It said that NYU created a hostile educational environment that subjected them and other Jewish students to “pervasive acts of Hatred, discrimination, harassment, and intimidation” in violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
The suit further claims that there has been a “steadily increasing incidence of antisemitic attacks at NYU” over the past 10 years. It says that the university has failed to enforce its own policies to protect Jewish students, CNN reported.
The students “have been forced to run a campus gauntlet of verbal and physical harassment, threats, and intimidation” and claim their complaints have been “ignored, slow-walked, or met with gaslighting by NYU administrators” since the October 7 Hamas terror attacks in Israel, the lawsuit claims.
The lawsuit recounts an incident that took place on the evening of October 17. According to the claim, Tawil, while cycling back from a demonstration in Washington Square Park, came across a situation where several individuals were confronting a “screaming woman” on the steps of a campus building. Tawil intervened, advising one of the individuals not to engage. Subsequently, a crowd assembled, and as per the complaint, several men, adorned with keffiyehs (traditional Middle Eastern scarves), approached another man closely, exhibiting behaviour suggestive of a potential attack.
The lawsuit says: “Tawil moved behind a truck on the sidewalk to videotape the harassment. One of the men approached Tawil, screamed ‘You have my f– face on film,’ and forced him to open his phone’s camera roll and delete the video. Tawil did so, and the man then yelled in Tawil’s face, ‘Get the f- out of here you dirty f– Jew.’ Tawil got on his bike and fled.”
Following the incident, Tawil reported it to campus security and participated in a meeting with an investigator a week later. According to the lawsuit, the campus security official informed him that the school had limited recourse and directed him to a hotline addressing emotional challenges.
John Beckman, a university spokesperson, contested the accuracy of the lawsuit in portraying campus conditions and argued that it does not adequately acknowledge the “many steps” the university has undertaken to combat antisemitism.
“We take the issues of antisemitism and any other forms of hate extremely seriously, and we are committed to safeguarding our community and providing an environment in which all students can live and learn in peace. NYU was among the first universities in the US to publicly condemn Hamas’ terrorist attack on Israel,” Beckman said in a statement sent to CNN.
Mr Beckman told the media outlet that there are now more New York Police and university officers on campus.
“NYU has promptly reviewed and opened investigations into reported complaints of antisemitism and related misconduct. NYU looks forward to setting the record straight, to challenging this lawsuit’s one-sided narrative, to making clear the many efforts NYU has made to combat antisemitism and provide a safe environment for Jewish students and non-Jewish students, and to prevail in court.”