REPORT: Jewish sexual assault survivors barred from campus support group for pro-Israel stance

Blotner received messages denouncing her support of Israel, calling it equivalent to 'condoning imperialism and settler-colonialism.'

Preis left the group after it had been hostile towards Blonter.

Two Jewish students at the State University of New York at New Paltz (SUNY-New Paltz) filed an official complaint with the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights alleging they were subjects of anti-Semitic discrimination. 

The Louis D. Brandeis Center filed the complaint on behalf of Cassandra Blotner and Ofek Preis after Blotner was kicked out from a sexual assault survivor group called New Paltz Accountability (NPA) due to her pro-Israel views. 

Blotner founded the student group in 2021. 

Both Blotner and Preis are sexual assault survivors and said they felt unsafe on their campus after the university refused to investigate the allegations of anti-Semitism, according to the complaint. 

On December 16, 2021, Blotner received messages from other members of NPA denouncing her support of Israel, calling it equivalent to “condoning imperialism and settler-colonialism.”

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The group condemned a statement Blotner reposted on Instagram in support of Israel, denouncing claims that Israel is a colonized state stating that “[y]ou cannot colonize the land your ancestors are from.”

“Jews are an ethnic group who come from Israel. This is proven by genealogical, historical and archeological evidence. Israel is not a ‘colonial’ state and Israelis aren’t ‘settlers.’ You cannot colonize the land your ancestors are from,” part of the post read. 

Students from NPA asked Blotner to meet with them to explain her views on the Israeli-Palestine conflict. Blotner declined the offer because she felt outnumbered as the only Jewish student involved. 

Later, Blotner suggested a meeting with NPA and the Jewish Student Union, but NPA declined to meet. 

In a transcript of an interview with the New Paltz Oracle, a student newspaper, the NPA students said it would be “very time consuming” and distract from their “main goal of advocating for survivors.” 

After NPA removed Blotner, Preis left the group. 

Watching the situation with Blonter, Preis “learn[ed] about NPA’s hostility towards Israel and that Ms. Blotner was cast out due to her Jewish identity.”

Both Blotner and Preis reached out to SUNY-New Paltz’s Title IX Office. A representative at the office told them that “she could not understand the anti-Semitic nature of the incident they had reported and was therefore unable to assist them,” according to the complaint.

The representative directed them to a Jewish faculty member who allegedly never replied to the student’s requests for support. 

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Campus Reform has reported on the growing number of anti-Semitic attacks against Jewish students on college campuses. 

A New York councilwoman withdrew $50,000 of funding from the City of University New York School of Law in May due to the school’s association with an alleged endorsement of anti-Semitism on multiple occasions. 

At the University of Connecticut, a Jewish student was called a “‘Jew,’ a ‘f*cking b*tch,’ a ‘white supremacist,’ and a ‘f*cking Zionist” while taking down posters calling Israel an apartheid state. 

In early August, Campus Reform reported that the U.S. Department of Education opened an investigation into the University of Southern California after a Jewish student was forced to resign from her position in the student government. 

Campus Reform contacted Blotner, Preis, NPA, the Jewish Student Union, and every university mentioned. This article will be updated accordingly. 

Follow @kliseanderson on Twitter.