Yemeni US grad slams Israeli violence, NYPD ’fascists’ in controversial speech

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A US university graduate of Yemeni origin slammed Israeli actions in Palestinian territories and praised the education institution for publicly defending the right of its students to “organize and speak out against Israeli settler colonialism” during the commemoration ceremony that has since seen responses from across the board.

Fatima Mousa Mohammed, a City University New York graduate from Queens, spoke on protecting communities and “confronting the systems of oppression… created to feed an empire with a ravenous appetite for destruction and violence.”

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She urged the audience of graduating lawyers, their families, and faculty to use her commemoration speech as “fuel for the fight against capitalism, racism and Zionism around the world.”

Mohammed, in her near 13-minute speech, also spoke out about Israeli actions on contested territories: “Israel continues to indiscriminately rain bullets and bombs on worshipers, murdering the old and the young, attacking funerals and graveyards as it encourages lynch mobs to target Palestinian homes and businesses; as it imprisons its children, and as it continues its project of settler colonialism expelling Palestinians from their homes.”

The graduate stated pride in CUNY’s position as “one of the very few institutions created to recognize that the law is a manifestation of white supremacy that continues to oppress and suppress… around the world,” while calling the New York City Police Department “fascist” and slamming the US military “that continues to train IDF soldiers to carry out that same violence globally.”

However, she added that school sometimes failed in its commitment by supporting these institutions. The two-hour-long commemoration ceremony video was published, removed, and republished on CUNY’s YouTube channel.

Mohammed then rallied her peers: “…I see before me future practitioners who will work on contracts to end partnerships with ICE and not intellectual property contracts to secure designs for the newest drone technology murdering children; I see future lawyers who will defend tenants in court and not those that dispossess our communities from their homes; I see future attorneys who will protect the community’s terrorized by the surveillance state and not protect the agents of oppression that carry out that terror; future lawyers who will fight to keep families together, and not tear them apart. I see future lawyers who will work to make this world a better place.”

Nearing conclusion, she said: “Let us remember that just this week, Gaza was bombed with the world watching; that daily brown and black men are being murdered by the state at Rikers; that there are Palestinian political prisoners like HLF in US prisons; that there are refugees at the southern borders still locked up; that yesterday marked one year since the murder of US journalists Shireen Abu Akleh; and that the murder of black men like Jordan Neely by a white man on the MTA was dignified by politicians, like Eric Adams and Senator Chuck Schumer.”

Adams, who spoke at the event, said: “I was proud to offer a different message at this year’s CUNY law commencement ceremony — one that celebrates the progress of our city and country, and one that honors those who fight to keep us safe and protect our freedoms, like my uncle Joe, who died at age 19 in Vietnam while giving his life for our country. We cannot allow words of negativity and divisiveness to be the only ones our students hear.”

His speech was met with booing and turned backs in a show of protest.

Mohammed’s statements were met with loud cheers from the audience.

After footage of the speech spread on social media, there was outrage over the university, funded by taxpayers, allowing what many called hate speech and antisemitism.

A CUNY spokesperson told the New York Post in a statement: “Members of the Class of 2023 selected student speakers who offered congratulatory remarks and their own individual perspectives on advocating for social justice.”

The spokesperson continued, “As with all such commencement remarks, they reflect the voices of those individuals.”

Meanwhile, Congressman Ritchie Torres (D-NY) said online: “Imagine being so crazed by hatred for Israel as a Jewish State that you make it the subject of your commencement speech at a law school graduation.”

He continued, “Anti-Israel derangement syndrome at work.”

US state senator Ted Cruz wrote: “City University of New York class day speaker slanders Israel & enthusiastically celebrates antisemitism. Cheers on open borders & releasing violent criminals from jail. And decries the ‘fascist NYPD.’ This is a LAW school. Paid for with tax dollars.”

Council member Ari Kagan wrote: “Vile anti-American & anti-Israel speech promoting hate. Totally unacceptable graduation speech for taxpayers funded institution. @CUNY & @CUNYLaw should immediately condemn this hateful speech & take all steps necessary to address such dangerous rhetoric!”

Congressman Mike Lawler said: “This is exactly why I am finalizing legislation to strip universities of their funding if they engage in and promote antisemitism. CUNY should be ashamed of itself — and should lose any federal funds it currently receives.”

Mohammed has reportedly been an active Students for Justice in Palestine group member and has led demonstrations against “Zionist professors.” Reports said that Mohammed has a degree in Law and Society with a minor in Human Rights studies.

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