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 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.