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Brooklyn College Under Fire for Sponsorship of Anti-Israel BDS Event (VIDEO)

January 31, 2013 2:38 pm 7 comments

Buildings on Brooklyn College's campus. Photo: Wikipedia.

The controversy surrounding a BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) event aimed at Israel in February at Brooklyn College has prompted more criticism of the school, whose political department is co-sponsoring the event that will feature anti-Israel activists Judith Butler and Omar Barghouti.

The Jewish Community Relations Council of New York released a statement that read in part:

“While we vigorously defend academic freedom, we believe that these freedoms do not extend to faculty and academic bodies exploiting their association with the university to enhance their biased and hateful agenda. At the very least, academic integrity requires a balanced forum representing diverse views. Since that is not the case, we call upon the Political Science Department to remove its name from this one-sided propaganda event.”

Tanger Hillel of Brooklyn College also released a statement echoing the JCRC’s belief in academic freedom but condemning the political science department’s role in the event.

“We believe in the right of free speech and that an academic institution should provide an appropriate venue for serious discussion of meaningful issues. However, we strongly condemn the decision of brooklyn college’s political science department to lend its name and support to an event featuring individuals who espouse extremist and hostile view,” the statement said.

Hillel also addressed calls for Brooklyn College President Karen Gould to resign.

“We do not agree with those who call for the resignation of President Gould. We do ask her to endorse the obvious: the college does not agree with these hateful speakers; the college intends to provide equal protection from hate speech for all our students; the college values Hillel’s constructive role on campus; the college values its relationship with israeli universities and colleges; the college abhors any anti Israel call for a boycott.”

StandWithUS, a non-profit organization “dedicated to informing the public about Israel and to combating the extremism and anti-Semitism that often distorts the issues,” released a statement that read in part:

“While student clubs are certainly entitled to put on whatever events they wish that conform to school guidelines, it is reprehensible that a school department is willing to officially dignify this event. This forum, entitled ‘Judith Butler and Omar Barghouti: BDS Movement for Palestinian Rights,’ will be an effort to promote bigotry, prejudice and hate against the Jewish state and its supporters. ”

It also released two videos (see below) one of which is about the hypocrisy and hate of the BDS movement, and the other which features Norman Finkelstein, a well known anti-Israel advocate, admit that the movement’s goal is the destruction of Israel.

Wednesday, the ADL  condemned the political department’s actions, as did Alan Dershowitz, the well known attorney and an alumnus of the school.

The president of Brooklyn College’s Assembly (the undergraduate government), Abraham Esses, released a statement Wednesday as well.

“The department’s approach to the issue is far from constructive; knowing well in advance that such sponsorship would insult and isolate a large portion of its students, it chose to express its own opinions through a venue that inhibits open dialogue and honest debate. Far from being receptive to students’ concerns, I regret to inform you that they have repeatedly turned down students’ requests to meet and discuss the issue further.”

He added: “I find the administration’s slow, halfhearted response to the issue to be appalling. Without any support or sympathy for students’ complaints, the administration seems complacent in a department’s clear abuse of its rights and responsibilities. Furthermore, the administration has failed to consult any student group before issuing its statement in support of the Political Science’s sponsorship decision. I believe this approach to be indicative of the respect, or lack thereof, which they have for students on campus. Whereas I understand its hesitation, the administration has clearly failed to represent and act for its own

In a letter to students, faculty, and staff, President Gould wrote that principles of academic freedom grant students and faculty the right to “engage in dialogue and debate on topics they may choose, even those with which members of our campus and broader community may vehemently disagree.” Gould emphasized that while the college endorses free speech, it does not endorse the views of speakers it brings to campus.

A spokesman for the college also noted that another student group, the Israel Club, will host its own event in February.

Watch a video about BDS below:

Watch a video of Norman Finkelstein talking about BDS below:


  • Nanette Rayman

    Gould should resign.
    I am sick and tired of these maggots questioning Israel’s right to exist. I question THEIR right. AM Y’ISRAEL CHAI

  • 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)

  • Problem is deep down those people sitting on the fence know Israel has more good to offer than bad. They are educated people that see both sides of the issues and there is not enough to warrant the BDS.

  • Don’t a lot of Jews go to Brooklyn College? Aren’t there a whole lot of alumnae? How about withholding donations? Squeeze ’em. The obviously don’t listen to reason, nor do they have any morals. So make them hurt.

    President Gould is a run of the mill academic lefty; one shouldn’t expect anything less from her.


  • Lawrence Kulak

    In addition, why is Dershowitz writing so much about his objections to the BDS but not offering his legal services to try to derail it? Is good old Alan trying to burnish his liberal credentials at the same time by standing by the first Amendment even though he is claiming in another article that it is being violated by not giving Jewish students a chance to present the other side? Furthermore, are Mike Tyson, Claus von Bulow, and every other lowlife whose defense Dershowitz became involved in more important than protecting the Jewish students at BC from an assault on their identities? what kind of lawyer IS he? Apparently confused to say the least.

  • Lawrence Kulak

    The political science department of Brooklyn college is taxpayer funded and is thereby prohibited from supporting hate speech on a college campus especially when there are perhaps Jews of both Israeli and non-Israeli origin who perceive themselves as the objects of that hates speech. If the University President does not force the political science department to to withdraw its endorsement of this event and ban BDS from coming to the Brooklyn College Campus, there should be a lawsuit instituted immediately seeking her removal and injunctive relief.
    It is appalling that people like Alan Dershowitz and Dov Hikind can vehemently object but when it comes to action all they do is bring the megaphone and shout. Dershowitz is a world famous lawyer for heavens sake, does he not know how to bring a request for Restraining Order in the NY Courts?
    Immobilized bureocrats like Karen Gould should be forced to do something rather than succumb to their own fascistic inclinations when it comes to letting the pol science department do whatever it wants. It cant do whatever it wants because the students are paying for it. You cant force someone to pay to get insulted. The BDS are like Nazis; Would it be ok to bring Neo-Nazis to campus even if the Po
    ly Sci dept did not endorse them?
    OK, if they come they will have to deal with Hikind, Pamela geller and Beth Gilinsky. But I am warning these people, you don’t want to be around Dov Hikind when you are challenging Israel’s existence. There is no cop in the Boro of Brooklyn who has the guts to arrest him.

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