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Brooklyn College to Play Host to Another Anti-Israel Event

November 11, 2013 5:58 pm 36 comments

Picture of the east quad of Brooklyn College.

The City University of New York’s (CUNY) Brooklyn College is again provoking passions, playing host this week to an anti-Israel activist who many, citing his published writings, believe to be anti-Semitic.

Ben White, who describes himself as a writer, freelance journalist and researcher on his Twitter page, will give a talk Thursday, November 14th called “Israel: Apartheid not Democracy,” as part of a mini-tour of college campuses that will also include a stop at John Jay College in Manhattan. The event is to be hosted by the school’s chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP).

White has in the past compared Israel’s policies to those of Nazi Germany — classified as anti-Semitic by the U.S. State Department; once declared he can  “understand” why some people are anti-Semitic; and has served as an apologist for previous Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmedinejad’s Holocaust denial.

The event comes on the heels of a Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) talk in February that many members of both Brooklyn College and the New York community objected to. The controversy reached a crescendo when four Jewish students were forcefully removed from the event because of what organizers said was a disruptive presence. The school later conducted an inquiry into the incident and determined “there was no justification for the removal of the four students.”

Because of White’s comments and the BDS event incident, his appearance has become another point of contention between the university and its Jewish community.

Jeffrey Wiesenfeld, a CUNY trustee, was infuriated by the news.

“No academic setting of which I am aware would tolerate open racism directed against any other group in such a forum. In the very least, we would hear hearty condemnations left and right,” he told The Algemeiner. “I will state plainly: his relativism on the Holocaust and his other pronouncements make him an out-and-out anti-Semite. His appearance is a black mark at Brooklyn College, which follows several others and is outside the realm of measures by the board and Chancellor which continue to advance CUNY.”

Melanie Goldberg, who graduated last spring and was one of the four students evicted from the BDS talk, said that Jewish students she has spoken to on campus aren’t happy, but feel as if they have no power over the situation.

“They’re waiting to see what happens. We’re not really surprised considering that following the BDS event last year the SJP was actually given more funds by the school,” she told The Algemeiner.

She added that, taking into account his past statements, she considers White to be anti-Semitic.

To compound the problem, as the students see it, is the fact that the Political Science and Sociology Departments are co-sponsoring the event.

Paisley Currah, head of the Political Science Department, claimed that his department “is not a ‘supporter,’ advocate, champion, or endorser of these events and the views that will be expressed there,” adding “We co-sponsor events because we as a department value the open and free exchange of ideas. As educators, we place great value on learning, inside and outside the classroom.”

For its part, Brooklyn College cited the First Amendment as reason for allowing White’s appearance on campus. In an email to The Algemeiner the school said it  “will protect speech, including matters that touch on public concerns, even if we strongly disagree with the content… As the United States Supreme Court has stated, the First Amendment reflects ‘a profound national commitment to the principle that debate on public issues should be uninhibited, robust, and wide-open.'”

The school’s president, Karen Gould, however, did not issue any public comment on White’s appearance.

Kenneth L Marcus, President and General Counsel of the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law, wasn’t buying the excuse — or Gould’s silence.

“Federally funded colleges must promptly and effectively respond to hateful incidents that are so severe or pervasive that they deny equal educational benefits to students based on race, color or national origin.  This is the case when a hostile environment is crested for Jewish, Israeli, or other minority students,” he said.

“When hateful speakers come to campus, some college presidents mistakenly believe they must decide between suppressing free speech or permitting open bigotry. In fact, the right answer is never to do nothing.  Even if the speech is constitutionally protected, university leaders may forcefully speak out against it. There is no legal reason why President Gould cannot firmly explain that such prejudice has no place in an institution of higher learning.”

Responding to a Twitter request for comment on the controversy, White replied “What Controversy?”


  • I urge all graduates who are not happy to express their concerns through the Alumni Association which a follow up statement: “We will no longer support Brooklyn College with donations…” Ivy League Alumni Associations as well as other universities have great influence so why can’t that of Brooklyn College throw some weight around to pressure the College Pres. into taking a stand. The College Pres. needs to ban these these pseudo intellects hate-mongers from campus. Otherwise, the Jewish Alumni should take a stand with their wallets, pocketbooks, and checkbooks.

  • Has Pamela Geller been invited to speak and if not – why not?

    Why not TEST – “We co-sponsor events because we as a department value the open and free exchange of ideas. As educators, we place great value on learning, inside and outside the classroom.”

  • Do not disrupt proceedings. It is illegal. Fight fire with fire. Start inviting Dr Mordecai Kedar to speak. Invite all Arabs and muslims to attend. He will personally rip them a new one…in Arabic

  • Why don’t those students who are against this, disrupt the speech just as the haters do when someone speaks positively about Israel. Just as the ignoramuses did to Ray Kelly in Brown University. If someone tries to kick them out then they should hold their ground and say they are entitled to free speech also.

    We need another Jewish Defense League.

  • How sand and ironic that Brooklyn College which for years contained a majority Jewish student body, is now home to Jew hating “students”; and welcomes anti-semitic scum to “lecture”. The world turned upside down.

    • But there’s a reason for this unfortunately. Peddlers of revisionist or fake history have an open field to exploit young minds who really haven’t a clue whats real and what isn’t given in so many instances they just aren’t taught history so they arrive at college age unarmed to defend themselves against the onslaught of BS that awaits them.

      In Pennsylvania where Holocaust history is not taught, have a look at how clueless the kids are who are obviously smart kids given these interviews are being down at Temple U, Penn St etc

    • as a Brooklyn College allumnus, I deplore the lack of action by the President of the college. I also deplore the statements by Pasley Currah, Poly Sci department head. he lacks sensitivity and humanity. he is using the “plight of the Arabs” to make anti-Semitic statements.
      What goes around, comes around. Karma is a bitch.
      as for me, my money is going exclusively to charities in Israel. Brooklyn College be damned.

  • E Pluribus Wombat

    “Jeffrey Wiesenfeld, a CUNY trustee, was infuriated by the news.”

    I am really tired of hearing people in power say they are angry and impotent. Step down or do something. And if it’s actually the case that no one has any power or ability to anything about anything then Brooklyn College no longer actually fits the definition OF a college and has become an activist organization on its face and should be treated and reclassified accordingly.

  • Just came across this retweet from Ben White

    From his talk at California several days ago . Less than 20 present . Check the empty seats at the front . He is Not as influential as he would have us believe . Maybe best to ignore him on that basis rather than give him the publicity he craves . It’s a difficult call but perhaps its best the Jewish society gave it a miss if that’s the sort of numbers he attracts .

  • I am waiting with bated breath to find out about Students for Justice in Syria or Egypt or ……….. Oops. I forgot, there is no injustice in Syria or Egypt or …………..

  • America’s love of “Freedom of Speech”, a concept held near and dear to all Americans and seemingly to a greater extent to American Jews, WILL BE the very tool used to persecute these Jews down the road. Today this “freedom” is used as both a shield to safeguard the “rights” of anti-Semites to make the most outlandish statements and a weapon to attack Jews on every front. American Jews have to stop worrying about the rights of others and start to worry about their own future – and that future is NOT in the US.

  • Everyone should read, circulate, and promote the book by Richard Cravatts,”The University’s Jihad Against Israel and Jews.” Combine this with Christian Dominionism and it’s history repeating itself regarding Martin Luther, Hitler and Jews.

  • Well I am a bit upset with Harvey. Ben White gets 24 carats and I only rate 22.

  • Being Anti-Israel is DEMONIC, Satanic, and EVIL!! We NEED to Pray for the Jewish People and Israel, as they are God’s Chosen! Israel is the HOLY Land Where Jesus Christ was Born and DIED!! I am a Devout Christian and I Support Israel through Christians United for Israel!!

    • Have you watched this film about the Palestinian Christians

    • we love you, May God bless you, thank you for your support and courage to Israel (where real democracy in middle east, Arab christian, arab muslim and jews,druze live(D)n will live peacefully the entire life and enjoying the civil rights, benefits equally)……thank you again on your stand on Israel,the only real democrat country in middle east.
      love you again.
      Note : i never mention as jewish state, even i am a jew.

    • Johannes Pfaeffle

      You are sick! Who chose the “chosen”? The Arabs are Semites and the Jews are Eastern European. That makes the Jews the Anti-Semites.

  • There is no right to speech that wrongs. As bullying the Jews and the Jewish state is becoming an in thing for those out for the Jews it is time to keep discriminators out.
    When democracy is freedom to bully with lies against minorities it is in reality democrap. Weren’t the Nazis social democrats and the model race. Stop the hate the Jews on campus. It’s liberty and justice for all and out with Jewish products, people and positions is waging hate, curtailing liberty and unjust. BDS is gang warfare and leads to very bad things like beatings and murder. If it was hate another group wouldn’t it be stopped?

  • Why not publicize the top 10 or top 25 anti-semitic colleges or universities in the U.S. Publicize it widely letting everyone know why, with any anti-semitic quotes from these speakers’ lectures etc. This is an outrage.

  • Jeffrey Yahooda.Sternberg

    I am offended by the lack of wisdom of the administration of Brooklyn College, which I
    attended in the mid 1960’s.

    There is an intellectual disconnect by the president
    of the college, in favor of perceived freedom of speech
    issues at play here. However, there is much U.S, case law that prohibits neo-Nazi propagandizing and anti-Semitic rabble rousing, be it from pro-Palestinian groups or Jew baiters and haters with other agendas, on college campuses. Palestinian advocates should have forums to speak their mind on matters near and dear to them, but there are limits as to what tolerable and what is repugnant to shared Jewish and American sensibilities, as to what is acceptable in the choice of words to be uttered, and in the utterances of “fighting words” that enrage and breed hatred and possibly violence on college campuses.

    I hope Governor Cuomo and the CEO of SUNY weigh in on the issues playing out at Brooklyn with their own comments, on what is going on here, and I would hope the press will cover it, because this is an important matter.

  • Unfortunately, Brooklyn College is allowing an “intellectually dishonest” speaker to have a platform to de-legitimize Israel. Brooklyn College’s administration needs to carefully read the First Amendment for themselves. By inviting an Anti-Israeli bigot to speak at their school, proves they are violating the spirit of the First Amendment.

  • Make sure that there are 400 Jewish students there on the
    14th., not 4.

  • Very simple solution . To the Jewish society . Take a leaf out of the BDS manual and disrupt the meeting . As has been the case with Israeli speakers including Michael Oren , simply don’t allow this 24 carat scumbag antisemite the opportunity to speak .
    He can hardly complain when his acolytes use the same tactic .
    Forget your nice Jewish middle class tendencies . RIOT .

    • MohammedTheTeddyBear

      “Forget your nice Jewish middle class tendencies . RIOT .”

      Works pretty well for the supporters of terrorist filth like Hamas, Hezbollah, etc., doesn’t it?

  • Jewish students were escorted of the premise for disrupting the presentation. Opposition to the settler movement protested Danny Dyan’s interview and were removed. Who is accusing whom of injustice?

    • The fact is that they did not disrupt. They were escorted out at the command of person not affiliated with the college. The investigation said that this should not have taken place. However, the Dean that was present abdicated his responsibility.

  • with this events antisemitic against israel specially i dont understand why us jewish are staying on these countrys becomes insane for “” jewish americans are more assimilated than americans people” “we have eretz israel now “for make our alyah all i think is moment to leaving this countrys of usa becomes too close to palestinians cause and insulting eretz israel !
    in europa its the same events have a big antisemtism because have a important arabic and muslim community in all countrys in europa france are 15 mions , belgium as well have important muslims islamics community and socialist are close to this anti israeli policy , scandinavian countrys as well are becoming too dangerous for jewish citizens , and in any case you have some jewish leftists pushing to boycotting eretz israel ” i think this traitors jews must be shut down for treason and betrayal to their people !! am israel chai

  • He will be at UC Irvine on the 12th hosted by SJP. he has been there two times previous. He is a boring speaker and a twit.

  • I hope someone files a civil rights lawsuit on behalf of the Jewish students who are being victimized and terrorized by these anti-Semitic events that the school is co-sponsoring and encouraging.

  • Nice article, ZP! Too bad Ben White is so clueless….

  • Who pays White’s salary and expenses? That’s where the problem originates.

    • In this case, quite possibly the Students for Justice in Palestine and the co-sponsoring departments. And if that is the case, there should be a legal means of going after the student group and/or the departments. Anyone out there with legal knowledge?

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