EXCLUSIVE: Audio Reveals Brooklyn College Misled Public on Eviction of Jewish Students From BDS Event (AUDIO)
by Zach Pontz
An audio recording obtained exclusively by The Algemeiner appears to indicate that Brooklyn College representatives misled the public in their account of events that took place at Thursday night’s BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) event aimed at Israel and sponsored by the University’s Political Science Department, where four Jewish students were evicted by security personnel.
On Friday, Brooklyn College explained the incident by accusing the students of disrupting the event in no uncertain terms, with spokesperson Jeremy Thompson telling The Algemeiner, “From the first speaker they began to speak out, they were becoming vocal and disruptive to the members around them and one of the student organizers of the event went to them and said ‘you really need to be quiet you’re disrupting other people around you.’ They then did not comply and a couple of police officers asked them to come out into the lobby.” Thompson also added that school officials in attendance, including Brooklyn College Vice President Milga Morales, confirmed this account.
The four students — Melanie Goldberg, Ari Ziegler, Yvonne Juris, and Michael Ziegler—contended, however, that they were thrown out for possessing BDS fact sheets. Goldberg told The Algemeiner the day after the event that “One of the SJP (Students for Justice in Palestine, which organized the event) members came over and got really close to my face and told me to give him the sheets, or he would call security. I told him I would not. We were simply taking notes so we could ask informed questions like we were encouraged to do by the school and Political Science Department.”
When Goldberg then asked Brooklyn College Vice President Milga Morales to intervene, as she was nearby during the incident, she declined to do so.
“I told her this was a clear violation of academic freedom, she just looked at me and said ‘this is their event, they can do what they want,’ which is not true, the political science department co-sponsored it,” Goldberg recounted.
The student who confronted Goldberg was later identified as SJP member Carlos Guzman.
In an opinion piece he wrote for The New York Daily News, Ari Ziegler also vehemently denied the school’s allegations:
“As far as I can tell, what happened is that a student who disagreed with my views called security and told them to remove me. The fact is that I was barred from asking questions in an open forum, from trying to understand an opposing viewpoint,” he wrote.
“The college has said that ‘based on official reports, they were being quite disruptive.’ This is a complete fabrication,” Ziegler added.
The audio file makes plain that the school was falsely accusing the students, and/or greatly exaggerating the claims made by SJP members that the students were being disruptive throughout their time at the lecture. The file captures the first speaker, Judith Butler, and terminates at the ejection of the four students. At the 28:14 mark Melanie Goldberg can clearly be heard saying, “I’m not allowed to hold a pamphlet?” This appears to contradict the claim made by Brooklyn College that the students were simply asked to be quiet and did not comply, and one made by an SJP organizer that they were asked to quiet down and stop passing fliers between themselves before they were ejected. At the end of the audio file you can hear Goldberg saying, “This is an oppression of freedom of speech, this is an oppression…” no time before that, despite the fact that according to The Algemeiner’s source the recording device was positioned only two rows in front of the Jewish students and was able to clearly pick up the voice of Judith Butler several rows ahead, does it appear that any disturbance was being caused. In fact, the first time a voice is clearly audible besides that of Butler’s is when Melanie Goldberg asks about the pamphlet, 28 minutes into the event.
Yesterday CUNY Chancellor Matthew Goldstein issued a statement in which he said an investigation into the incident would commence. “There were reports that some said they were asked without cause to leave the event. If this were true, it was wrong and we need to understand exactly what the circumstances were. At the request of President Karen L. Gould, I have asked General Counsel and Senior Vice Chancellor for Legal Affairs Frederick P. Schaffer to quickly investigate these allegations. This investigation will be coordinated by CUNY’s Office of Legal Affairs, working with an independent consultant, and charged with reporting directly back to me,” Goldstein said.
From statements made today by Brooklyn College, it appears the school has backtracked somewhat from its earlier statements—statements that were given with the backing of anonymous school officials and the vice president of the school.
The school told The Algemeiner in a statement Tuesday that “Given the serious concerns raised by the students, President Gould has asked the university to conduct a thorough independent review of the college’s actions in order to ascertain all the facts. We stand by our previous statements that the college should be a place where all may express their views. If we learn that these students were denied that opportunity without cause, as they allege, the decision to have them removed will have been inappropriate and the college will issue a formal apology.”
The audio of the Brooklyn College BDS event can be heard below: