Assemblyman Charles Lavine (D-Glen Cove) has criticized Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman for his comments calling for Hofstra University President Susan Poser to resign.
Poser released a statement on Oct. 18 telling the Hofstra 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 that same letter, Poser announced that Hofstra would be holding a “Vigil for Peace” that evening.
Blakeman said that her statement drew moral equivalencies between the terrorist group Hamas and “politically contested territorial disputes,” and called for Poser’s resignation from Hofstra University.
“This was not a time for fence sitting and handwringing,” Blakeman wrote in a letter. “Dr. Poser should have been clear and strong in her condemnation of Hamas without equivocation.”
But, in a statement, Lavine called Blakeman’s letters “calculated to please his MAGA base.”
“Hofstra President Susan Poser is a nationally respected university leader,” Lavine said. “To her credit, she is not a politician. To her greater credit, she was not recruited to be a Nassau County political party hack. President Poser’s public comments on the Oct. 7 pogrom were every bit as condemnatory of Hamas as were the statements of other noteworthy leading university administrators. Contrary to Blakeman’s ideation, her statement explicitly damned Hamas.”
Lavine also said that Blakeman’s letters were “revenge for Hofstra’s resistance to his plan to redevelop the hub,” referring to Hofstra’s opposition to the Sands Casino in the Nassau Hub.
Blakeman was not alone in criticizing Poser for her responses to the conflict. Hofstra political science professor Richard Himelfarb wrote a letter, obtained by the Long Island Press, to Poser on Oct. 31 regarding the statement.
“Rather than making an unequivocal denunciation of anti semitism and defense of Israel’s right to defend itself, they contain references to ‘complex history and conflicting views’ and the ‘tragic loss of life of Israelis, Palestinians, and many others,'” Himelfarb wrote. “Anyone reading them and not knowing better would likely conclude that both sides of the conflict are equally culpable, an assertion that is non-sensical and, to me, offensive. I hope that future communications from you contain a moral clarity that is missing from your initial ones.”
Himelfarb did not directly call for Poser’s resignation in the letter.
The Hofstra Board of Trustees told Blakeman it would stand by Poser, and released a separate statement on the matter as well.
“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,” the university said. “Hofstra has since been recognized by Mothers Against College Antisemitism as one of the safest campuses for Jewish students.”