A few hours after the Yemeni student Fatima Mohammed delivered a pro-Palestine speech at her graduation ceremony at the New York University, the video of the speech disappeared from the school’s YouTube page, causing huge criticism on social media.
It was on May 12 that in a live-streamed commencement ceremony at the City University of New York (CUNY) School of Law, the Yemeni graduate Fatima Mohammed decided to become the voice of the oppressed people of Palestine and spoke of Israel’s never-ending violence against Palestinians.
“Israel continues to indiscriminately rain bullets and bombs on worshippers, murdering the old, the young, attacking even funerals and graveyards as it encourages lynch mobs to target Palestinian homes and businesses, as it imprisons its children, as it continues its project of settler colonialism, expelling Palestinians from their homes, carrying the ongoing Nakba… our silence is no longer acceptable,” Mohammed said during her 12-minute speech, adding also that “Palestine can no longer be the exception to our pursuit of justice.”
The speech then drew criticism from supporters of Israel, calming that what the young law graduate said of Israel was in fact spreading “antisemitism”.
But the speech was so frank and so powerful that even the CUNY School of Law Jewish Law Students Association wrote a letter in support of what Fatima said; “It is disingenuous to characterize these factual descriptions as anti-Semitic when they describe the conditions of Palestinian life. So if CUNY Law wants to show it cares for its Jewish students, it can do so by showing it cares for Fatima.” the letter wrote.
Fatima’s speech no longer available on the school’s YouTube page!
As expected, Fatima’s sincere words about supporting Palestine and her clear call on the world to open eyes and see Israel’s human rights violations against Palestinians were condemned by pro-Israelis, especially US lawmakers such as Ritchie Torres, the Democratic congressman from the Bronx and many Republican lawmakers, including Senator Ted Cruz.
This was enough to force the CUNY’s officials to remove Fatima’s speech from the university’s YouTube page.
But that was not the end of the story, because immediately after the removal of the speech from YouTube, thousands of people on social media condemned the move and demanded that the video come back on social media.
The push was strong enough to make the university officials to eat the humble pie and promise to make the pro-Palestine video available on YouTube again.
“The video productions of the complete 2020 & 2021, 2022, and 2023 Commencement Ceremonies will be made available online as they have been for previous years. Consistent with the Law School’s practice for past years, the videos will contain the full programming and remarks of all speakers,” Elise Billing, the director of communications and marketing at the CUNY School of Law, said in a statement.
Fatima’s speech, the continuation of a pro-Palestine wave in the heart of US
This is not the first time that the CUNY witnesses a pro-Palestine speech as the graduation speaker of the 2022 commencement, Nerdeen Kiswani, also echoed similar words in support of the oppressed people of Palestine and calling out Israel’s human rights violations against Palestinians
“Any platform is an opportunity for us to raise awareness and build a movement for Palestinian liberation. I feel like I’m part of the Palestinian struggle even if I’m in the US. I still owe that to my people. Just like our people back home are giving their lives every day for the struggle,” Kiswani said last year in his graduation ceremony speech.