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January 30, 2013 2:49 pm

Dershowitz Challenges Brooklyn College to Invite Him to Speak at BDS Event

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Omar Barghouti. Photo:

The controversy surrounding the political science department at Brooklyn College, which is co-sponsoring a BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) against Israel event on campus along with several other organizations that will feature devout anti-Israel activists Omar Barghouti and Judith Butler, has elicited a response from one of the school’s most famous alumni: Alan Dershowitz.

In an interview with The Algemeiner, Mr. Dershowitz expressed the same concerns as the Anti Defamation League, noting that the event has a right to be held but that the political department’s co-sponsorship creates serious ethical questions.

“I am not opposed to students sponsoring an event like this. Students have the right to be foolish and damn fools and immoral. What I’m opposed to is the political department sponsoring and endorsing the BDS. The BDS includes the blacklisting of Jewish professors from Israel, and that’s illegal, immoral and racist. An academic department should not be taking sides in this debate. This department would never invite me, for example, to speak and state my opposing point of view. So it’s not about academic freedom; it’s about the department taking one side, and the wrong side.”

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Dershowitz noted that the school, and the political science department specifically, will take an enormous hit to its credibility both as a balanced and fair institution. “If I were a student at Brooklyn College today I would be fearful of taking political science courses from professors who might grade me down, or who might refuse to give me a recommendation if my views were different from theirs,” he said.

And he offered his own prescription for resolving the event’s lopsidedness. “The event shouldn’t be cancelled, but the political science department should withdraw it’s support, or alternatively the political science department should invite me or someone else that represents an opposing point of view and give equal endorsement.”

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  • Elizabeth Mayfield

    As a Palestinian activist, I have been viciously slandered again and again and marginalized in my community for speaking out on behalf of the Palestinian people. This has gone on for the last 15 years. Every time, I or someone else tries to speak about the Palestinians, the Zionists in our little town of Ames, iowa, demand equal time on the same program. The purpose is not just to present an opposing view, but to turn the discussion away from the plight of the Palestinians and focus only on Israeli’s grievances. Should an organization or institution allow a presenter to force him or herself onto the program, he or she will change the subject and reverse the message to one that is favorable toward Israel and unfavorable toward virtually anyone and anything in the Arab World. Lying and presenting half-truths and misinformation is par for the course. There is never a debate; only uninterrupted rebuttal, in short, the last word. If, however, you refuse to allow a pro-Zionist, pro-apartheid speaker onto your docket, the usurpers rarely, if ever, follow up with a program of their own. The goal is to interrupt, disavow and confuse an audience. Alan Dershowitz is a pro at using this tactic and I want to congratulate the head of the Political Science Department for his fantastic response to yet another Dershowitz whine. Dershowitz and his ilk only spout the Zionist party line which is published in one or another public relations Zionist manual which teaches followers how to defend the indefensible apartheid state that Israel has become. And, the appropriate response is to mock such duplicitousness and tyranny. Bravo Boston College for standing your ground.

  • Josef

    Dershowitz has spoke twice at Brooklyn College, once on 5/23/08 and once at the invitation of the very Poli-sci Department who he now criticizes so scathingly, to deliver their annual Konefsky lecture. When he himself was to speak, he did not demand that someone with opposing views be present to balance the event, or that the Department withdraw its sponsorship of his lecture. Funny how now that it’s someone whose views differ from his he wants to raise a stink while pretending to care about academic freedom.

    • Jonathan

      When Dershowitz was invited to speak as the Konefsky lecturer it was as a respected visiting academic. He provided no program and no topic for his lecture, and the department didn’t require them. That is hardly comparable from intentionally sponsoring an event with only known biased speakers on a very fraught and controversial topic.

  • laurie sapir

    Thank you to Alan Dershowitz and others at Brooklyn College for exposing this issue and challenging the odious Judith Butler.

    Being the gay and ‘progressive’ minded (and “proud Jewish”, as opposed to “criminal Israeli”) freedom fighter that she is, does she not realize that she would be the first to hang from a crane in Hamas, Hizbollah or Iranian society? How naive, sanctimonious, frighteningly misguided and full of herself she is. She, herself has admitted that she could be ‘wrong’ about her views… oh well, she’s not the one who will pay for the increasingly hostile and hateful atmosphere she is helping to create.
    From one who is proud to live in Israel (with its problems, like any other western democracy)

  • If you agree with Dershowitz, sign this petition about what Brooklyn College is doing!

  • I note that President Gould supports the conference under the guise of “academic freedom.” I assume she is unaware the BDS movement advocates the boycotting of Israeli academics. I am unable to find a plausible defense for this inconsistency.

    I invite any interested parties to attend Assemblyman Dov Hikind’s news conference at Brooklyn College’s Bedford Avenue entrance today (Jan 31) at 11 AM.

    • Andy

      South Africa would be the main precedent here, I think.

  • Bobbi

    The political science society of a university in Halifax sponsored a talk delivered by a pro-Zionist Muslim speaker. He was great – when the Muslim students allowed him to speak – their shouting and political posturing went far beyond civil discourse or debate. Not a single pol-sci prof was in attendance, and one might surmise that there is not support in academia here for pro-Israel views, and that there is support for anti-Israel views. And sadly, I believe that one would be correct.