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January 30, 2013 2:42 pm

ADL Slams Brooklyn College for Allowing Political Science Department to Sponsor BDS Event

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Judith Butler. Photo: Javier Ignacio Acuña Ditzel.

The controversy surrounding Brooklyn College’s political science department, which is co-sponsoring an event aimed at building support for BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) against Israel next month, has intensified in recent days and has prompted a response from the ADL and Alan Dershowitz, as well as a petition at the college which has been signed by hundreds of students.

Ron Meier, the ADL’s New York Regional Director, spoke with The Algemeiner about his organization’s concerns.

“We respect a university’s right and responsibility to bring a range of voices–even voices that we might strongly disagree with –to campus in an environment of free speech. What’s most upsetting, however, is the position taken by the university itself. That is to say, the claim expressed by [Brooklyn College President Karen]  Gould that the co-sponsorship of the event by the political science department does in no way represent an institutional endorsement of the views of the conference.”

Meier said the the ADL sent a letter to President Gould last week but thus far she hadn’t responded.

“Should this conference be allowed to come to campus? Yes. Should anyone who wants to be allowed to attend? Yes, no matter how much we disagree with the views being expressed. But once the political science department serves as a co-sponsor as opposed to just being an interested party, the implication is that the university is behind the conference or supportive of the conference –you can’t but be led towards that conclusion.”

Alan Dershowitz, the famed attorney who is also an alumnus of Brooklyn College, echoed the sentiment.

“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,” he told The Algemeiner.

Jeffrey S. Wiesenfeld, a Trustee at the City University of New York, took the argument one step further in an article published on this website Tuesday, arguing that the event should be cancelled because tax funds are used to support Brooklyn College.

“This is a misuse of tax-levy funds. This is NOT an academic conference in any sense. Furthermore, other than through the intimidation of liberal arts professors who might support Israel, how do we know that EVERY professor in that department supports this drivel?”

Weisenfeld added, “I call upon taxpayers to draw a line here and make it known: taxpayer dollars should not fund illegitimate, racist and anti-Semitic activities by any academic department.”

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