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February 18, 2016 3:30 pm

Brooklyn College President Calls for Investigation Into Antisemitic Disturbance at Faculty Meeting

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Brooklyn College President Karen Gould: Brooklyn College website

Brooklyn College President Karen Gould:. Photo: Brooklyn College website.

The president of Brooklyn College strongly condemned the disruption of a faculty meeting this week by students shouting antisemitic and anti-Zionist epithets, in a statement released Thursday.

Referring to the interruption of the Faculty Council meeting by students chanting “Zionists off campus” while demanding the university divest from Israel, President Karen Gould said, “We find this disruptive behavior unacceptable and the hateful comments especially abhorrent.” She also called for an investigation into the students’ conduct and for appropriate actions to be taken based on the findings.

The Anti-Defamation League also denounced the students in a press release, and praised Gould for her strong response.

The event occurred on Tuesday, when 10 students entered the premises of the Faculty Council meeting, yelling anti-Israel slogans. When Faculty Council Chair Prof. Yedidya Langsam attempted to restore order, they reportedly called him a “Zionist pig.” According to a statement issued by New York Assemblyman Dov Hikind (D-Brooklyn), some of the faculty members present applauded the students’ anti-Israel rants.

Langsam told The Algemeiner on Thursday that one faculty member in attendance later commented to him that their colleagues’ assent to the students’ outbursts “felt as it must have felt to Jews in early 1930s Germany, watching one’s associates turn against one.”

Langsam also noted that in recent years there has been growing anti-Israel hostility on the Brooklyn College campus, including the rise of the Boycott, Divest and Sanctions movement (BDS). But, he added, “I have been at Brooklyn College since 1973, when I was a student. In all these years I have never before been personally targeted in this way.”

“Students are welcome to their views about Israel and Zionism, however misinformed they might be,” Langsam said. “But to my mind there is no difference today between anti-Zionism and antisemitism. Anti-Zionism is merely a more polite way to express antisemitism.”

Brooklyn College sent The Algemeiner this statement:

A small student protest on February 16, 2016 disrupted a campus meeting of the Brooklyn College Faculty Council, which is the body charged with making decisions on academic policy. The Faculty Council Chair leads the meeting and recognizes who can and cannot speak, including guests, according to Robert’s Rules of Order.  The students, who had not been recognized by the chair, and refused to follow his direction, made a number of demands on a wide range of academic and economic topics.  They also directed hateful anti-Zionist and anti-Jewish comments to members of our community.  We find this disruptive behavior unacceptable and the hateful comments especially abhorrent.  Brooklyn College is committed to fostering a campus environment in which challenging issues and viewpoints can be expressed.  However, such conversations must not impede the Faculty’s right and responsibility to conduct the academic business of the College; nor should these conversations create a climate of exclusion and hostility.   We will be vigilant in our efforts to promote a safe and respectful learning environment.

The President of Brooklyn College [Karen Gould] has instructed the Office of Judicial Affairs and the college’s legal counsel to initiate an investigation of student conduct at the Faculty Council meeting, and to take appropriate actions based on their findings.

A faculty member who asked to remain anonymous told The Algemeiner that the Brooklyn College faculty union, PSC CUNY, has written to Gould reproaching her for failing to distinguish anti-Zionism from antisemitism. A request for clarification from the union was not answered as of press time.

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