Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman has hit out at Hofstra University President Susan Poser for her response to the Oct. 7 attack on Israel by Hamas, and called for her resignation.
“That event, Israel’s response, and the ongoing conflict are taking the lives of thousands of people, with no end in sight,” Poser wrote in the Oct. 18 letter to the student body. “We mourn the loss of life in Israel and Gaza, which is deeply affecting many members of our community. There is a complex history and conflicting views about the causal underpinnings of the current crisis. This is one of the reasons that lasting peace in that part of the world has been so elusive and contested. But what is not contested is the tragic loss of life of innocent Israelis, Palestinians, and many others.”
In response, Blakeman — whose father and uncle attended Hofstra after serving in World War II — wrote a letter to Hofstra’s Board of Trustees demanding Poser’s resignation.
“I was shocked by the comments made by Dr. Poser concerning the barbaric and cowardly attack on innocent women and children by Hamas, a vicious terrorist organization,” Blakeman, Nassau’s first Jewish County Executive, wrote. “Dr. Poser’s statements on the brutal and cowardly murder of babies and raping of women by Hamas equating moral equivalence between Hamas’ terrorist slaughter of innocent women and children with the contested political agenda of the Palestinian people is so misguided and antithetical to good moral values and judgment that it puts into question her ability to lead Nassau County’s largest private university.”
The Board of Trustees wrote back to Blakeman saying it would stand by Poser, who is also Jewish.
“The Board of Trustees expresses its continued strong confidence in President Poser and disagrees with your letter,” Donald Schaeffer, chairman of the Board, wrote back to Blakeman. “Indeed, under President Poser’s leadership, Hofstra University has remained an academic center of mutual respect and peace, even in these difficult times.”
Blakeman countered that Poser’s supposed moral equivalencies were “alarming.”
“I find it alarming that you and Dr. Poser are heading an institution charged with educating our young people,” Blakeman wrote. “What a poor lesson. It is instructive to note that Hofstra University was ranked by the Wall Street Journal in the bottom quarter of best universities in America. Usually, mediocrity and cowardice go hand in hand.”
Hofstra released a separate statement today countering Blakeman’s assertions.
“The fact is that on October 9, 2023, President Poser publicly condemned the ‘horrific and brutal attack by Hamas on Israel’ and the ‘unspeakable, organized violence and hostage-taking against men, women, and children’ in a message to the Hofstra community,” the university said. “President Poser – a first-generation Jewish American whose parents escaped Europe and the Nazis – was among the first university presidents to message their campus community to show support and to provide resources for the entire Hofstra community that has been deeply affected by the war. Hofstra has since been recognized by Mothers Against College Antisemitism as one of the safest campuses for Jewish students.”