Donate Shop Register

How Brooklyn College legitimized BDS
How Brooklyn College legitimized BDS

By KC Johnson, Asaf Romirowsky
YNet News
February 14, 2013

The controversy over a "panel discussion" at Brooklyn College has little to do with free speech, and everything to do with politicization of the academia — in this case, by disingenuous anti-Israel ideologues.

Back in December, the political science department at Brooklyn College, a public institution partially supported by taxpayers’ dollars, formally voted to sign on to a talk that took place on February 7th. A student group had scheduled an address by University of California professor Judith Butler and graduate student Omar Barghouti to propagandize on behalf of Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel. This movement seeks to isolate Israel from the world, ostensibly to punish the Jewish state for its security policies.

Though the political science department referred to the event as a "forum," only one view - extreme anti-Israel activism - is represented. Professor Butler so despises Israel that she has unapologetically whitewashed Israel's foes, labeling Hamas and Hezbollah "social movements that are progressive, that are on the left, that are part of a global left."

Barghouti, meanwhile, hypocritically urges Americans to boycott all Israeli professors, as he benefits from these same academics as a student at Tel Aviv University.
In fact, during the forum it was those who opposed BDS who were silenced when they were either denied access to the event or pushed out. As Brooklyn College senior Michael Ziegler stated, "I was escorted out for nothing more than the fact that I was holding a paper that would help me assess my decision on my feelings over BDS."

The BDS double standard smacks of anti-Semitism: Targeting Israel and only Israel, advocates hold the world's only Jewish state to a far different standard than other democracies, much less Islamic, African, or Latin American dictatorships. Amidst flowery anti-imperialist rhetoric, the movement misleadingly implies that ending specific Israeli policies, generally deemed "apartheid," would satisfy its backers. In fact, BDS supporters envision the replacement of Israel as a Jewish state with a bi-national, majority Palestinian, entity.

Hollow core

The Brooklyn event is, in short, not an academic forum, but little more than agitprop designed to drum up hostility to Israel - just as similar BDS events at institutions such as Penn and Duke have done. What happened at Brooklyn could have occurred at virtually any university; few places in the United States are as hostile to Israel as the typical college campus.

And while the Brooklyn student group has every right to bring even vile speakers to campus, an academic department formally voting to endorse (or co-sponsor, as the political scientists subsequently, if disingenuously, described their tally) such drivel is a far different matter.

CUNY Chancellor Matthew Goldstein has clearly and unequivocally expressed his personal opposition to the BDS cause, but Brooklyn's president, Karen Gould, declined to do so. In two statements on the matter, she refused to condemn the BDS movement, while invoking "academic freedom" to defend her department's actions.

On campus, though, any free exchange of ideas flows only in one direction: In response to media requests, the political science professors have refused to explain what so attracted them to these anti-Israel extremists that their department formally voted to get on board with the talk.

An optimist might hope that the faculty's embarrassment for their actions explains this silence. A realist would understand otherwise. The forum is far from being the first problem with Brooklyn College's flirtation with the BDS agenda. In 2010, as part of a "common reading" requirement, the college ordered all incoming freshman to read a book by yet another endorser of the BDS movement, Moustafa Bayoumi.

His volume asserted that between 1987 and 2001, the US government approach toward "Arab Americans" was "more often used to limit the speech of Arab Americans in order to cement US policy toward the Israeli-Palestinian conflict." Bayoumi offered no evidence for his wild claim.

It's no wonder that several pro-Israel students at Brooklyn recently admitted their fears of grade retaliation from pro-BDS professors down the road. Virtually abandoned on campus, these students' cause has been championed by a group of politicians led by Jerry Nadler.

The congressman joined three House colleagues and every prominent New York City Democrat running for mayor in penning a public letter urging the department "to withdraw their endorsement of this event, rather than send the message to its students and to the world that the divisive perspective offered by the organizing groups is Brooklyn College’s official view."

Those outside the academy who have witnessed an academic department's exposing its hollow core on matters related to Israel should continue to ask hard questions about how on campuses around the country handle matters related to the Middle East. People of good faith need to continue to search for remedies that will restore a true diversity of ideas to American higher education.

KC Johnson is professor of history at Brooklyn College and the CUNY Graduate Center. Asaf Romirowsky, is acting executive director for Scholars for Peace in the Middle East (SPME) and an adjunct scholar at the Middle East Forum and the Foundation for Defense of Democracies

Read Article Here
Other stories
We need to understand that the Temple Mount is to the Jews is what the Ram Janmobhoomi Tem...
Vespasianus Augustus Titus, If the Imperial Roman commander who destroyed the Second Jewis...
On October 25, His Excellency, Mr. Carmel Shama Hacohen, Ambassador and Permanent Delegate...
Representative from StandWithUs to speak to students at East Valley Hebrew High at Temple ...
Petition signed by over 76,000 people calls on UNESCO to recognize the connection between ...
Israel`s ambassador to UNESCO and representatives from StandWithUs and International Legal...
The Israel education organization “Stand With Us” and the International Legal ...
It was presumed from the outset that the 21-member World Heritage Committee would approve ...
This week the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) ad...
Steadfast in your faith in Israel and your love of the Jewish people, you dedicated your l...
UNESCO resolution refers to key religious sites only by their Islamic names; It is a `disg...
On Tuesday October 25, 2016, the Israel education organization StandWithUs (SWU) and the I...
StandWithUs condemns the Portland State University (PSU) Student Senate for passing a bigo...
Israeli Culture Night was Hillel at UT Dallas` largest event yet with approximately 125 st...
A select group of the world`s great tattoo artists are traveling to Israel on a mission ca...
60,000 sign petition against UNESCO, after it declared no connection between Jews and Temp...
Music fans react to a performance from the Rolling Stones during Desert Trip`s second week...
StandWithUs is running an aerial advertisement at Desert Trip a major music festival being...
Every time I have a glimmer of hope for the progressive community to get it together about...
StandWithUs Condemns Dishonest UNESCO Resolution Omitting Jews` Connection to Their Holies...


About Us
Get Involved
Shop For Israel
Social Media
StandWithUs Websites