Dershowitz said to be trying to quash Brooklyn College role in BDS forum

Israel/Palestine
on 16 Comments

A storm in New York: on February 7, Omar Barghouti and Judith Butler are scheduled to discuss the boycott, divestment, sanctions movement aimed at Israel in a forum at Brooklyn College, hosted by the Political Science Department. Well, the media and alumni are now engaged, including the famous Zionist alum, Alan Dershowitz, evidently to question the college’s official hosting of the forum.

From political theorist/associate prof Corey Robin on Brooklyn College Student Union’s Facebook page:

From Professor Corey Robin: URGENT: Hi everyone. I need you all to stop what you’re doing and make a phone call or write an email to the administration of Brooklyn College. A few weeks ago, my department (political science) voted to co-sponsor a panel discussion, featuring Judith Butler and Omar Barghouti, on the Boycott, Divest, and Sanctions movement against Israel. In the last week, we’ve gotten a lot of pressure and pushback from the media, students, alumni, and now Alan Dershowitz (who’s been trying to track down our chair to “talk” to him). So far, the administration has held firm, but the pressure is only building and they are starting to ask us whether we endorse these views or are merely seeking to air them (to which we responded: “Was the Brooklyn College administration endorsing the pro-torture and pro-Israel views of Alan Dershowitz when it decided to award him an honorary degree?”) Anyway, I need you guys now to send an email or make a phone call encouraging the administration to stand by the department and to stand for the principle that a university should be a place for the airing of views, ESPECIALLY views that are heterodox and that challenge the dominant assumptions of society. Please contact: [You can go to the link for this information] Please be polite and respectful, but please be firm on the principle. Right now, they’re only hearing from one side, so it’s imperative they hear from many others.

The reaction was evidently kicked off by this piece in Matzav last week saying that students are outraged but quotes no student by name:

Concerned students at Brooklyn College and members of the BC community have expressed their deep concern over the fact that an event entitled “BDS Movement against Israel,” which is scheduled to take place on the college campus on February 7, is being co-sponsored by BC’s Political Science Department, along with several other virulently anti-Israel student and community organizations that support the boycott of Israel.

…“There is no doubt that the purpose of this event is to promote campaigns to boycott Israel, campaigns which the U.S. Department of State considers to be anti-Semitic, and the Jewish community considers to be an assault on the Jewish people,” said one student. “This event cannot help but promote hatred towards the Jewish state and hostility towards the vast majority of Jewish students at BC who identify with the Jewish state.”

The New York Post picked up that story this past weekend, along with the characterization of the event as legitimizing “anti-Jewish bigotry.”

Brooklyn College spokesman Jeremy Thompson said the event was initiated by a campus chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine.

“We have not had any calls for the event to be canceled,” he said. “We have people asking whether it’s appropriate for the political science department to be sponsoring this event.”

The sponsorship “does not signal an endorsement,” he added.

About Philip Weiss

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16 Responses

  1. Annie Robbins
    January 29, 2013, 10:39 am

    from the facebook page

    Please contact: President Karen Gould (718.951.5671; [email protected]); Provost William Tramontano (718.951.5864; [email protected]); and Director of Communications and Public Relations Jeremy Thompson (718.951.5882; [email protected]. Please be polite and respectful, but please be firm on the principle. Right now, they’re only hearing from one side, so it’s imperative they hear from many others.

    • pabelmont
      January 29, 2013, 12:23 pm

      Annie, thanks for the valuable EMAIL addresses. This is a classic case of an attempt to suppress education upon a spurious claim of anti-semitism (or of making Jewish [Zionist] students uncomfortable. Well, they don’t have to attend. And if the student body should become a hotbed of BDS activity, well, it’s a free country, or so they often say. I wrote:

      Brooklyn College Administration:

      On February 7, Omar Barghouti and Judith Butler will appear at a Brooklyn college event discussing BDS (boycott, divestment, and sanctions), which is a non-violent means by civil society for attempting to persuade ISRAEL to comply with international law (which forbids building settlements in occupied territories — see UNSC 465 (1980) and the July 9, 2004, advisory opinion, at para 120, of the International Court of Justice).

      This event should go forward, and it should absolutely be sponsored by the college or by its department of Political Science. No question!

      SOME ZIONISTS are protesting the conference or the college’s
      participation in it. they wish to prevent the spread of
      knowledge of and sympathy for the BDS movement. They mean
      to SUPPRESS DISCUSSION, SUPPRESS EDUCATION.

      I, though Jewish, do not protest it. If I could, I would INSIST ON IT!

      There is no higher purpose of a college than to promote discussion of ideas. The idea that human beings can use non-violent means to achieve political goals against highly-armed and highly-violent nations — such as Israel and Egypt and Syria — is an important one which we should all be eager to learn about — and perhaps, in some cases, to promote.

      The Palestinians who defined the BDS movement deserve all our thanks for finding a non-violent way, a way NOT BASED ON TERRORISM, to promote their claims to national and human rights.

      Prof. Dershowitz may contest the ideas, BUT SHOULD NOT BE ALLOWED TO SILENCE THE DISCUSSION!

      Thank you.
      [name]

    • American
      January 29, 2013, 12:24 pm

      annie….

      I sent to the email but got a bounce back..twice….might be my own server but meanwhile I’ll try a fax if you have fax numbers?

      • Annie Robbins
        January 29, 2013, 2:48 pm

        i got that info number right off the facebook page american. maybe they’re being flooded with responses. i would suggest googling the college and sending an email to an alternate address listed at their website. goodluck!

    • Citizen
      January 29, 2013, 1:27 pm

      @ Annie Robbins

      Done, all three contacted simultaneously via email. And I was very polite.

    • pabelmont
      January 29, 2013, 3:41 pm

      link to brooklynsjp.com

      Thursday February 7th 6:30pm-9:00pm
      Brooklyn College
      2900 Bedford Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11210
      (718) 951-5000
      Room: Student Center Building PENTHOUSE
      DATE: 2/7/2013 (Thu 6:00PM – 9:00PM)

      NB: “Brooklyn”, not “New York” (as the web-site curiously has it).

  2. eljay
    January 29, 2013, 10:56 am

    >> … they are starting to ask us whether we endorse these views or are merely seeking to air them (to which we responded: “Was the Brooklyn College administration endorsing the pro-torture and pro-Israel views of Alan Dershowitz when it decided to award him an honorary degree?”)

    Alan Dershowitz, hypocrite: Why doesn’t this seem surprising?

  3. American
    January 29, 2013, 11:54 am

    ”“This event cannot help but promote hatred towards the Jewish state and hostility towards the vast majority of Jewish students at BC who identify with the Jewish state.”

    Why? Because some truth might be told? If the truth does promote hositility toward Israel or them, then it’s their problem.
    That is ‘ the risk’ they take in supporting what most people are against re Israel, see as immoral and a injustice.
    The people promoting BDS have taken the risk of being smeared also and have been.
    Just like in all conflicts, choosing a side, the right or wrong one, has consquences for better or worse.

  4. eljay
    January 29, 2013, 1:40 pm

    >> “This event cannot help but promote hatred towards the Jewish state and hostility towards the vast majority of Jewish students at BC who identify with the Jewish state.”

    An oppressive, colonialist, expansionist and supremacist “Jewish State” deserves condemnation. And students who identify with the oppressive, colonialist, expansionist and supremacist “Jewish State shouldn’t be surprised by hostility. (Didn’t anyone tell them that aggressor-victimhood is a tough gig?)

  5. DICKERSON3870
    January 29, 2013, 4:44 pm

    RE: “A few weeks ago, my department (political science) voted to co-sponsor a panel discussion, featuring Judith Butler and Omar Barghouti, on the Boycott, Divest, and Sanctions movement against Israel. In the last week, we’ve gotten a lot of pressure and pushback from the media, students, alumni, and now Alan Dershowitz . . .” ~ Professor Corey Robin

    SEE: “The Trial of Israel’s Campus Critics”, by David Theo Goldberg & Saree Makdisi, Tikkun Magazine, September/October 2009

    [EXCERPT] . . . It is an extraordinary fact that no fewer than thirty-three distinct organizations – including AIPAC, the Zionist Organization of America, the American Jewish Congress, and the Jewish National Fund – are gathered together today as members or affiliates of the Israel on Campus Coalition. The coalition is an overwhelmingly powerful presence on American college campuses for which there is simply no equivalent on the Palestinian or Arab side. Its self-proclaimed mission is not merely to monitor our colleges and universities. That, after all, is the commitment of Campus Watch, which was started by pro-Israel activists in 2002. It is, rather (and in its own words), to generate “a pro-active, pro-Israel agenda on campus.”
    There is, accordingly, disproportionate and unbalanced intervention on campuses across the country by a coalition of well-funded organizations, who have no time for — and even less interest in — the niceties of intellectual exchange and academic process. Insinuation, accusation, and defamation have become the weapons of first resort to respond to argument and criticism directed at Israeli policies. As far as these outside pressure groups (and their campus representatives) are concerned, the intellectual and academic price that the scholarly community pays as a result of this kind of intervention amounts to little more than collateral damage. . .

    ENTIRE ARTICLE – link to tikkun.org

  6. I communicated via e-mail with the administrators as follows:

    I am a New Yorker who appreciates the diversity of opinions and vigorous and productive debate that are provided by CUNY. At present, two of my children attend CUNY – my daughter is at Baruch College and my son is at Hunter College. I appreciate your work on behalf of New York City’s young people.

    In this light, I earnestly request that you uphold the principle of diverse and heterodox views on a university campus. I look forward to attending, with my children, the informative roundtable, feature Omar Barghouti, on the Boycott, Divest and Sanctions movement. I support the BDS movement as a powerful form of civil action in the face of deplorable human rights conditions in Israel/Palestine.
    As people of conscience, we must consider in civil discussion/debate all avenues of action toward the improvement of our society and the world community.

    The political science department at Brooklyn College has provided an excellent event. I look forward to attending and learning at it. Thank you.

  7. DICKERSON3870
    January 29, 2013, 4:51 pm

    RE: “Concerned students at Brooklyn College and members of the BC community have expressed their deep concern over the fact that an event entitled ‘BDS Movement against Israel’ . . . is being co-sponsored by BC’s Political Science Department, along with several other virulently anti-Israel student and community organizations that support the boycott of Israel.” ~ Matzav

    MY COMMENT: If I’m reading the above excerpt correctly, “Matzav” called BC’s Political Science Department a “virulently anti-Israel . . . organization” in a very disingenuous, backhanded way.

  8. ckg
    January 30, 2013, 9:32 am

    Dershowitz has an op-ed in the NY Daily News “Brooklyn College’s anti-Israel hatefest” and it’s open for comments. Have at it.

  9. Marc
    January 30, 2013, 5:53 pm

    Emailed this afternoon to Annie’s list:

    Dear ,

    I understand that you’ve come under considerable pressure to reconsider an event on 7 February 2012, being hosted by your Political Science department on the Boycott, Divest and Sanctions discussion regarding Israel.

    Freedom of speech and academic freedom, among others, are in jeopardy when an event like this stands to be cancelled. I cannot imagine any reasonable justification for such a measure and I would be shocked if cancelled.

    While studying at the University of Western Ontario in Canada the University hosted a debate between a controversial professor and the Prominent Canadian scientist, David Suzuki. Shockingly, the professor contended that a correlation existed between the circumference of African American skulls and IQ. The debate stood and was televised nationally. The decision by the university to debate and discuss was not a courageous one but rather one based on the very principals and freedoms at stake here.

    Thank you for your consideration and commitment to the forum.

    Regards,

  10. pipistro
    January 30, 2013, 9:06 pm

    “…campaigns which the U.S. Department of State considers to be anti-Semitic” (as everything else)

    This is preposterous! When do you US citizens decide that it’s gone way over any sense of reality and enough is enough?

  11. American
    January 30, 2013, 11:54 pm

    Brilliant !Brilliant! Brilliant! You have got to see this…… really makes it’s point beautifully with illustrations…totally well done.

    17 Point guide to Anti Semitism and it’s Abuses

    link to thedailybeast.com

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