New York – A CUNY college professor who was secretly recorded repeating anti Semitic remarks reportedly made by a high ranking school official is standing by the allegations, although he admits to being irked that his statements were taped without his consent.
The remarks, allegedly made by Dr. Stuart Suss, a former interim president at Kingsborough Community College, are part of a federal lawsuit filed by an Orthodox Jewish staff member charging both Suss and the City University of New York with religious discrimination and harassment, as reported by The New York Post.
Jeffrey Lax, chairman of the business department at Kingsborough and an Orthodox Jew, recorded a conversation that he had with Ronald Forman, a math professor at the college on April 4th. In that exchange, Forman said that Suss claimed that the school’s faculty had “too many Jews.”
Forman, a Conservative Jew, told Lax that he was aware of charges of anti-Semitism that had been leveled against Suss. Forman described Suss, who is also Conservative, as his “oldest friend” at the school.
“I’ll never admit it,” Forman told Lax, “but I heard him say it.”
Unaware that he was being recorded, Forman also told Lax that while he understood his concerns, he was not to share their exchange with anyone else.
“Don’t quote me,” Forman told Lax. “I’ll deny that I said it.”
The recording was just recently turned over to the court as part of the pretrial discovery process in the lawsuit which was filed in February 2016.
According to court documents originally reported by the Algemeiner, Lax was hired by Kingsborough in 2004 and a decade later was promoted to chairman of the business department where he supervises more than 70 faculty members and staffers. The lawsuit charges that Kingsborough, which has a large enrollment of Orthodox Jewish students, routinely tried to avoid hiring Jews and refused to allow particular members of the school’s personnel and budget committee, many of whom were Jewish, to vote on the hiring of certain candidates, a direct violation of CUNY policy.
In one instance, Suss is said to have overruled a unanimous decision to hire a highly qualified Jewish professor and refused to allow an appeal on the matter. On other occasions, Suss is said to have allowed the hiring of Orthodox Jewish faculty members only after one or more non-Jewish hires were approved.
Lax also charged Suss with creating a hostile work environment for Jewish faculty members, voicing support for suicide bombers who targeted Jews, mocking people who keep kosher and referring to Jews as “the devil.”
Lax said that the harassment escalated after he filed multiple religious discrimination complaints with Kingsborough’s diversity officer, and that he was denied promotions, paid less than similarly qualified non-Jewish faculty members and shunned by top level administrators at Suss’s request.
Other outwardly Jewish employees were similarly targeted charged Lax, with Kingsborough officials doing nothing to stem the tide of anti-Semitic hatred. One Jewish employee, whose car has an American and Israeli flag, has had his vehicle vandalized several times, while an Israeli flag on school ground has been repeatedly defaced. Lax also claimed that one Jewish professor found a swastika carved into the door of her classroom and her keyboard soaked in urine, with swastikas appearing in various locations on school grounds on numerous occasions.
None of the incidents were reported to police, said Lax, who said college president Farley Herzak told him not to make waves when he filed a discrimination complaint two years ago.
Kingsborough has filed papers to have the suit dismissed, saying that neither CUNY nor Suss have violated Lax’s rights in any way. CUNY schools have been criticized repeatedly for their handling of a growing number of anti-Semitic incidents and last Spring, Zionist Organization of America president Morton Klein blasted the school system for announcing it would “study” anti-Semitism on its campuses instead of taking action to halt hate crimes.
Suss, who worked at Kingsborough for more than 30 years and is currently serving a vice president of academic affairs at CUNY’s Guttman Community College in Midtown, refused to comment on the allegations saying he was not allowed to talk to the media.
Although admittedly angry about the clandestine recording, Forman said he stood by his words.
“If it’s on the tape, it’s on the tape,” said Forman.