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Bloomberg backs Brooklyn College over BDS event as another official withdraws funding threat

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BC Press Conf
Supporters of Brooklyn College’s Students for Justice in Palestine held a press conference yesterday to speak out against the attacks on the group’s panel (Photo via @ReclaimLanguage)

The tide has suddenly turned hard against opponents of the Students for Justice in Palestine-organized event that is set for tomorrow night at Brooklyn College. Mayor Michael Bloomberg strongly denounced attempts by legislators to threaten the college with funding cuts over the event and also came out in support of the Political Science Department’s right to sponsor the event–a position that puts him to the left of the initial position that some members of the City Council’s Progressive Caucus took. Additionally, that group of progressive politicians, organized by Rep. Jerry Nadler, backed off from their pressure on the Brooklyn College Political Science Department, while another progressive who had signed on to a separate funding threat letter authored by Councilman Lew Fidler withdrew his name.

Bloomberg made the remarks defending Brooklyn College earlier today. “If you want to go to a university where the government decides what kind of subjects are fit for discussion, I suggest you apply to a school in North Korea,” he bluntly said, according to a report by Dana Rubinstein in Capital New York. 

Bloomberg, an ardent Zionist who flew into Israel as the country waged a punishing assault on the Gaza Strip, emphasized that he “violently” opposed the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement targeting Israeli human rights violations. But he also said that he “could not agree more strongly with an academic department’s right to sponsor a forum on any topic that they choose.” 

Bloomberg continued by saying:

“The last thing we need is for members of our City Council or state legislature to be micromanaging the kinds of programs that our public universities run and base funding decisions on the political views of professors. I can’t think of anything that would be more destructive to a university and its students. The freedom to discuss ideas, including ideas that people find repugnant, lies really at the heart of the university system. And take that away, and higher education in this country would certainly die.”

The New York City mayor also jabbed political opponents of the BDS movement for bringing more attention to the event that it would have gotten without the controversy. “If they just shut up, it would have gone away,” he said.

Even more striking is the new letter issued by the very same group of progressive politicians who initially demanded that the Political Science Department rescind its co-sponsorship of the event. The first letter from this group, which included signers who were members of the Progressive Caucus in the New York City Council, demanded that “Brooklyn College’s Political Science Department…withdraw their endorsement of this event.” (In fact, the department did not “endorse” the event–they explicitly and repeatedly said they agreed to co-sponsor, and not endorse.) But their new letter, posted by Brooklyn College Political Science Professor Corey Robin, backs off. The demand directed at the department now seems to be gone. Instead, they write: 

The Political Science Department has put in writing its policy for considering co-sponsorship of student-organized events, making clear that requests from “any groups, departments or programs organizing lectures or events representing any point of view … will be given equal consideration.” However, as has been clear in this instance, the departmental practice of co-sponsorship of specifically student-organized events has caused real confusion among students regarding intent and endorsement of views (as evidenced by Student Body (CLAS) President Abraham Esses’ “Open Letter” in this regard). We, therefore, believe that the policy would be strengthened greatly by the explicit inclusion of language that you and the Department have used on this case – that sponsorship does not imply endorsement.

It’s not a direct repudiation of their earlier letter–you have read between the lines. But these progressives are quietly backing off from their pressure on the Department’s co-sponsorship of the event. (Still, the progressive letter continues to distort the BDS movement by claiming that ”advocates of the BDS movement have called for a boycott of Israeli scholars.” In fact, the academic aspect of BDS calls for a boycott of Israeli academic institutions–and not individuals just because they are Israeli.)

Relatedly, a Councilman who was among the signers of the Nadler letter, Stephen Levin, has withdrawn his name from a separate letter written by City Council Assistant Majority Leader Lew Fidler that threatened the college’s funding over the event. Levin’s withdrawal makes him the second legislator to back off from the funding threat, after Councilwoman Letitia James, another progressive official, withdrew her name as well. That leaves eight Council members who have left their names on the Fidler letter. 

All of this comes a day after Students for Justice in Palestine organized a press conference to speak out against the “escalating attacks” on their event. Donna Nevel of Jewish Voice for Peace and Jews Say No! was there to show her support, and said:

I am pleased to be here today to have the opportunity to speak out in support of Students for Justice in Palestine and all those at Brooklyn College and across the city concerned with ensuring that bullying and intimidation do not succeed in denying students and others the right to engage in critical examination and inquiry of important political ideas.

What we have seen happening here is yet another example of an attempt to suppress and vilify voices critical of Israel and Israeli government policies, a pattern that has become far too common in this city and nation-wide.

It’s bad enough that Alan Dershowitz and Dov Hikind have engaged in a smear campaign. We’ve come to expect that. But city council members who threaten to take away city funding merely because they disagree with the views expressed on a college campus should be ashamed of themselves and should be held accountable for trying to interfere in this way. And they must not prevail.

Nevel also strongly defended the BDS movement:

About the topic that has become so controversial and caused so much condemnation–it needs to be made clear that Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) is a non-violent response to the Israeli government’s violation of basic principles of human rights and international law. It is, in my view, those violations that should be condemned, not strategies such as BDS that are designed to put an end to those violations, and the injustices that they inflict on the Palestinian people.

The entire controversy continues to garner media coverage. The chair of the Political Science Department, Paisley Currah, has authored a piece in the Chronicle of Higher Education defending the event and calling out the hypocrisy of the panel discussion’s opponents.

And this morning, Democracy Now! had on Omar Barghouti, the Palestinian BDS activist who is one of the speakers at tomorrow’s event, and Glenn Greenwald. Watch it here:

Update: This post has been altered slightly to clarify the difference between the Lew Fidler letter and the letter organized by Rep. Jerrold Nadler.

Alex Kane

Alex Kane is a freelance journalist who focuses on Israel/Palestine and civil liberties. Follow him on Twitter @alexbkane.

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77 Responses

  1. just on February 6, 2013, 2:45 pm

    There is movement. Thank you Alex, and Mondoweiss.

  2. hophmi on February 6, 2013, 2:59 pm

    There’s little media coverage outside of the left.

    I’ve been a critic of this whole campaign, but the integrity of the position of the BDS movement is hampered by two facts:

    1. The first is that they’ve tried to block Israeli speakers on campus before (Michael Oren, for instance); and

    2. The second is that they advocate a policy of boycotting Israelis, particularly in academia, and it’s thus at a minimum hypocritical for them to stand on a principle that they themselves do not have a record of supporting.

  3. seanmcbride on February 6, 2013, 3:02 pm

    Bloomberg made the remarks defending Brooklyn College earlier today. “If you want to go to a university where the government decides what kind of subjects are fit for discussion, I suggest you apply to a school in North Korea,” he bluntly said, according to a report by Dana Rubinstein in Capital New York.

    Sometimes you just have to love Michael Bloomberg for his ability to engage in direct speech. Bam.

    “I suggest you apply to a school in North Korea.” There it is in 10 words. Case closed.

    • American on February 6, 2013, 5:08 pm

      “I suggest you apply to a school in North Korea.”

      Heheheh…I think that could be twisted to be as bad as saying I am an American senator not a Israeli senator. Will the Kristol or the ADL be going after Bloomie for implying that the Jewish PEP are communist?

      • W.Jones on February 7, 2013, 3:54 am

        He probably had his lawyers look into the issue. At least part of his explanation was that they will make the BDS conference bigger than it is by resisting it. He would know that legally the BDS group could resist it as a crackdown on free speech making those imposing their views on the school would look authoritarian and lose. Doesn’t he say he is “violently” Zionist?

        Part of him might also value academic freedom, so it could be both, but at least one reason is that above.

      • seanmcbride on February 7, 2013, 12:39 pm

        Sometimes Michael Bloomberg comes across more as a progressive libertarian than a neoconservative or neoliberal — and I like that side of him. I sometimes think he would make a good Republican presidential candidate — but the Republican Party is much too crazy these days to understand and embrace Bloomberg.

        Regarding Israel: I think he cares about Israel (and that’s cool), but I don’t think he’s an Israel Firster like Sheldon Adelson, Haim Saban, Mort Zuckerman or Bruce Kovner.

      • Chu on February 7, 2013, 1:19 pm

        ‘I don’t think he’s an Israel Firster’
        He’s a keystone in NYC and zionist political realms. His
        personality may have you believe otherwise, but he
        takes as many trips to Israel on the weekends as the

      • flyod on February 7, 2013, 1:26 pm

        bloomberg traveled to ashkelon during cast lead and offered his moral support to that operation. makes him an i firster in my book. the guy’s just brilliant enough to put a progressive face on..

      • American on February 7, 2013, 3:23 pm

        “but I don’t think he’s an Israel Firster “..sean

        Of course not…to acheive the success in Israel that he has here in the US he’d have to be part of the Israel mafia..he’s not that cut throat or criminal.

  4. chinese box on February 6, 2013, 3:23 pm

    Never thought I’d see the day…kudos to Bloomberg for doing the right thing, regardless of his personal views. This is a big step up from the time when Giuliani had Arafat thrown out of that concert.

  5. clenchner on February 6, 2013, 3:24 pm

    Brilliant. You don’t have to be a fan of BDS to realize that the NYC politicians were essentially going totally nuts, counterproductively. I bet the next time Nadler’s CoS tries to do this kind of thing, she gets an apologetic ‘not this time.’


  6. Maximus Decimus Meridius on February 6, 2013, 3:37 pm

    This is such a spectacular own goal from the lobby.

    Their thuggish bullying and blatant attempt to stifle freedom of speech are out in the open, and they are undeniable. The whole point of lobbying is that it goes on behind closed doors in the corridors of power, away from the eyes and ears of ordinary plebs. Once your bullying goes public, and – worst of all – fails to achieve the desired result, you’ve lost the battle. Here’s hoping they lose the war too.

    • W.Jones on February 6, 2013, 4:58 pm

      Maximus, do you think that the Democratic Convention, where people voted one way about Jerusalem and the leadership invented their answer made a serious impact?
      Delegates are some of the most “into” politics, and if they were shown this at a high level, it seems it would hint to some of them there is a problem somewhere. I’m guessing maybe it affected 1/8 to 1/16 (half cared, half voted that way, one quarter use critical thinking; take into account overlap between them), but that’s still significant given the crowd.

  7. Fritz on February 6, 2013, 3:43 pm

    Just a question for a better understanding what is happening on democrazy now! I’m not an US-citizen, but I like Democrazy Now! very much. However, sometimes I feel, that especially Amy Goodman (not Juan Gonzales) feels uncomfortable in presenting news about the Israel-Palestine conflict, e.g. the presentation of the movie which equates the state of Israel with South-Africa apartheid, also five broken cameras and so on. The same in this case. Omar Barghouti, who unfortunately seems to read written statements, is near to be questioned like a defendant by Amy and the other guy. Is also democrazy Now! part of this “progressive” political establishment who don’t want to discuss the Israeli-Palestine conflict? Thanks for Yout help to understand what’s going on.

    • anonymouscomments on February 6, 2013, 7:49 pm

      amy goodman is generally quite good in relation to israel… especially in comparison to all larger media outfits. she will not go into it as deep and as often as she can, or be as brutally honest, as some here at MW. but she is very good and hosts all the “radical mainstream” people like chomsky and finkelstein and barghouti. she covers the UN resolutions, the vetoes, and many of israel’s worst offenses.

      when israel did the first gaza war, cast lead, i though she was going to cry- she almost couldn’t get through a newscast it seemed.

      of course i hate her light deception and more often, stark evasion with regard to 9/11… but that is only the underpinning of current world politics and also the paradigm under which israel’s impunity is indefinitely extended. that is off limits at MW, for good reason, but you can google to see how amy deals with the obvious questions (and evidence) wrt 9/11.

      • RudyM on February 7, 2013, 1:11 am

        Yes, I’d say Democracy Now! is a lot better than mainstream TV news, but obviously that’s a low standard.

        I would say what I remember of Democracy Now’s coverage of Israel-Palestine is that it tended to be excessively rooted in a Chomskyite sort of prism. Maybe that’s gotten better.

        Has As’ad AbuKhalil been on in recent years? I remember him complaining about not being invited onto Democracy Now! any more. I’m not the biggest fan of his really, but he at lest offered a different perspective than the Chomsky-Finkelstein spectrum of acceptable dissent on Israel-Palestine.

        I recently watched a (somewhat self-congratulatory and overly chummy) conversation, with the U.S. police state as the stated overall topic, between James Corbett and FBI whistleblower Sibel Edmonds in which Edmonds claims that Goodman was told (by funders) to back off from Edmonds because she was too harsh on Obama. I think it may go beyond Edmonds’ criticism of Obama, and relate more to what Edmonds has to say about 9/11. At any rate, I remember that when Edmonds was gagged by the Bush administration justice department, Goodman had her on the show quite a bit (pointlessly asking her questions that Edmonds was forbidden to answer). When Edmonds went ahead and revealed a good deal more, under oath, during a deposition that occurred during the Obama administration, Goodman did not have her back on the show. And mainstream and mainstream-alternative media almost completely ignored it. The most “mainstream” outlets to cover the testimony at the time were American Conservative and Hustler magazine.

        (Actually, I haven’t regularly watched Democracy Now! for a while. Last time I had cable, Democracy Now! was the only show I watched regularly. I don’t have cable and don’t regularly watch any particular TV shows online, although I do sometimes watch particularly segments of Democracy Now! as I find out about them.)

    • W.Jones on February 6, 2013, 10:25 pm

      I thought this particular segment was OK. She let the guests say their views. She focused on the free speech issue, which is a good one. although you are right the report wasnt really on the substance of whether barghouti was right on the conflict or not.

      • W.Jones on February 7, 2013, 3:56 am

        Overall therefore the program was good.

    • Byzantium on February 7, 2013, 3:07 am

      If you want to see more robust criticism of Israel, check out Abby Martin’s “Breaking the Set” show on RT:

      You can scroll through the episodes to find Israel-specific segments; she doesn’t pull any punches.

      • Fritz on February 8, 2013, 11:37 am

        Thanks for giving answers and objections to my feelings about Democrazy Now! Oh, “Breaking the Set” is really “robust”, straightforward and not Butleranian, thanks for this.

  8. W.Jones on February 6, 2013, 3:58 pm

    “If you want to go to a university where the government decides what kind of subjects are fit for discussion, I suggest you apply to a school in North Korea”.
    I wouldn’t be surprised if there was more openness about the IP conflict among North Korean legislators. I could easily see some of them mentioning to another that, say, Israel has pretty good technology, while other legislators might be strongly in favor of Palestine as another country targeted by stronger countrie(s). So a range of opinions on the topic could be expressed to one another, without Papa Bear coming to their country and getting 29 standing ovations.

    I can’t see their Minister of Defence getting grilled for 8 hours over occasional comments criticizing one side or the other on that particular issue. Can you?

    Is that funny?

    “Tso, Mistah Sekwetawy, you say Pawestine wobbi scaw peepuw heauh?????? Wuat?????”

    • on February 6, 2013, 9:19 pm

      Is it funny?

      • W.Jones on February 7, 2013, 3:38 am

        There’s a recent video game called Homefront where North Korea takes over the US and has martial law. I immediately recognized that’s ridiculous because the situation is so unthinkable. I mean, just compare the US to North Korea in terms of population size, military size, and GDP. Really! Can you imagine it?

        How could an Asian country that small- just a sliver by the ocean- take over the US? It’s so ridiculous…………………

    • piotr on February 7, 2013, 11:58 am

      I think that NK legislators are not there to discuss or exchange opinions, with possible exceptions of problems explicitly allowed to discuss. This was the case in “mildly totalitarian” states like former Warsaw Pact.

      Fidler 10 made a stupid over-reach. It makes me wonder what will happen with another Pol-Sci department that is subjected to a witch hunt, namely at Beer Sheva. Ministry of Education was about to close it (prevent admission of new students). Israel may yet live to the image of the Democratic People’s Republic.

      • W.Jones on February 8, 2013, 2:56 am


        Don’t you think it is ironic: The USSR had what, 140 million people, and North Korea had what, 10 million?
        How much control did North Korea have over Soviet legislators and who would win Soviet elections?

      • W.Jones on February 8, 2013, 3:26 am


        On the surface of it, Americans are told that there is a conflict between two Asian groups, that one side is our ally, and we give them military help. Likewise, in the Cold War, the USSR helped North Korea, and a similar situation was presented to the public.

        What country in the world decided what Soviet legislators would be picked? How many Soviet legislators went to other countries to get campaign donations? How many Soviet legislators worried they would lose their job if another country’s leader thought the legislator’s opponent was better for them?

  9. Empiricon on February 6, 2013, 4:03 pm

    As we learned as kids, bullies often cave when you stand up to them.

    • RoHa on February 6, 2013, 8:39 pm

      “As we learned as kids, bullies often cave when you stand up to them.”

      That’s what we were told when we were kids. But we found that when we stood up to them, they bashed us up anyway. Bullies pick on people they know they can beat up even if the victim resists.

      • W.Jones on February 6, 2013, 9:59 pm

        typical. some bosses at work. some police. some people pick jobs where they do this. I’m sorry to find now that I am an adult the same stuff from elementary school doesnt go away, it gets worse.

      • yourstruly on February 7, 2013, 1:45 am


        re: Brooklyn College?

        israel lobby’s intimidation & vilification tactics ineffective?

        a first?

  10. ckg on February 6, 2013, 4:09 pm

    So Michael Bloomberg, who earned two Ivy League degrees, says he “violently” opposes BDS. What does he mean by that? I vehemently support BDS.

    • ckg on February 6, 2013, 4:25 pm

      If Omar Barghouti were ever to say he “violently” opposes Israeli policies, can you imagine the reaction in the NY press?

    • on February 6, 2013, 9:16 pm

      He just means that he is from the generation before the current moronic PC parsers. Violently meant “forcefully” all those thousand of years ago, and still does for us old farts.

      • W.Jones on February 7, 2013, 4:00 am

        “Violently meant “forcefully” all those thousand of years ago, and still does for us old farts.”

        What the Old Testament from your and Bloomberg’s time gets translated into King James’ English as “violent” actually refers to lawless or bad “violence”. It has a bad connotation. At least when I hear Bloomberg say he is “violently” against BDS, it suggests to me he is extremely hostile and aggressive about it, possibly involving the use of force depending on the situation.

        From a politician, this does sound lawless, because BDS is nonviolent. However, in this case, his more recent statement defends promotion of BDS from lawless banning.

      • on February 7, 2013, 9:34 pm

        No, it’s just about daily E usage

      • W.Jones on February 8, 2013, 2:44 am

        Uh, daily E usage?

    • chinese box on February 6, 2013, 11:16 pm

      There’s certainly issues with Bloomberg, but he doesn’t strike me as irrational. Perhaps he’s not quite the ardent Zionist he purports to be. I’m sure some of it is just reality of ethnic identity politics in NYC and how pols stay in office there–there’s a commonplace about catering to the “three I’s” (Italy, Israel and Ireland–and maybe throw in Puerto Rico too…). Maybe he’ll “evolve” publicly if attitudes in the US begin to shift due to BDS and further Israeli intransigence…

  11. amigo on February 6, 2013, 4:11 pm

    Could it be the zionist dam has burst and nothing will stop the havoc heading towards the greater Israel plan and it,s supporters.

    I sure hope so.

  12. DICKERSON3870 on February 6, 2013, 4:24 pm

    RE: “Mayor Michael Bloomberg strongly denounced attempts by legislators to threaten the college with funding cuts over the event and also came out in support of the Political Science Department’s right to sponsor the event . . .” ~ Alex Kane

    MY COMMENT: Since Sheldon Adelson supposedly supports the concept of a “liberal democracy” (at least, according to his Op-ED in the WSJ), why isn’t he (like Bloomberg) defending “the right of free speech” in this instance?

    • DICKERSON3870 on February 6, 2013, 5:21 pm

      “Why GOP Mega-Donor Sheldon Adelson Is Mad, Bad and a Danger to the Republic”, By Rick Perlstein, Rolling Stone, 4/10/12

      [EXCERPTS] . . . Adelson’s anti-union mania (I would argue) is the most important thing to know about him. For it reveals just how crazy, and how unscrupulous, the man is. . .
      . . . [In 1998] Nevada conservatives sponsored a “Paycheck Protection” ballot initiative – the right-wing term for measures weakening unions by banning them from automatically deducting dues from members’ pay. Adelson was gung-ho for it – and “would spend any amount of money,” D. Taylor, secretary-treasurer of Las Vegas’s Culinary Workers Union Local 226, told me . . .
      . . . In 1999, Adelson closed one casino, the Sands, and completed work on a new one, the Venetian, stiffing so many contractors that there were at one time 366 liens against the property. Taylor, of the Culinary Workers, said he and his colleagues presumed that “like every other casino that had done that, workers in the [closed] hotel would be given priority when the [new] hotel was built.” Instead, Adelson refused even to talk. All this, in a union town like Vegas, was unprecedented. “Even when you’re having battles, you continue to have talks. Shit, we’re talking to the North Koreans right now!” he told me. “The Israelis talk to the Arabs. Talking doesn’t necessarily solve anything, but at least you understand the other guy’s position.” Adelson, not much interested in understanding the other guy’s position, proceeded to launch a campaign against the Culinary Workers that Taylor calls “beyond aggressive.”
      Right before the grand opening of the Venetian, in 1999, the Culinary Workers staged a demonstration on the public sidewalk out front. Adelson told the cops to start making arrests; the cops refused. Glen Arnodo, an official at the union at the time, relates what happened next: “I was standing on the sidewalk and they had two security guards say I was on private property, and if I didn’t move they’d have to put me under ‘citizen’s arrest.’ I ignored them.” The guards once again told the police to arrest Arnodo and again, he says, they refused. The Civil Rights hero Rep. John Lewis, in town to support the rally, said the whole thing reminded him of living in the South during Jim Crow. . .
      Marvels Arnodo, “Here you have a sidewalk that 12 billion people walk down, [and] the only people who can’t use it are the union!” The Culinary Workers argued before the National Labor Relations Board that Adelson’s attempts to keep them from demonstrating violated federal labor law. Adelson’s lawyers countered that their client’s First Amendment rights were being violated – because his threats of arrests were an instance of “petitioning the government.” The union won the right to protest; Adelson refused to comply with the settlement, copies of which the union passed out on that very same sidewalk. That was “fraudulent use of the seal of a government agency,” the Venetian argued, further claiming that union workers had “impersonated” NLRB officials, and that the volunteer labor activists had been coerced. The great civil liberties attorney Alan Dershowitz got involved – on Adelson’s side. “The Venetian has no property rights to the sidewalk,” a federal appeals judge told them in 2007. Unmoved, Adelson tried, without success, to take the case all the way to the Supreme Court. After all, Adelson told the Wall Street Journal, radical Islam and the right to more easily join a union were the two most “fundamental threats to society.”
      Did I mention Adelson is nuts? But don’t take my word for it – it was George W. Bush who called him “some crazy Jewish billionaire.” . . .


  13. seafoid on February 6, 2013, 4:45 pm

    Fair play to Bloomberg. The bots need to drop the thuggery. It won’t work any more.

  14. Avi_G. on February 6, 2013, 4:47 pm

    Too bad Bloomberg didn’t speak up when the fascist supporters of Israel shut down a an Arabic language-teaching school.

    • wondering jew on February 6, 2013, 5:29 pm

      Avi- Clarify for me, if you choose to, are all supporters of Israel fascists or did only the fascist supporters of Israel lobby to shut down the school?

      • yourstruly on February 7, 2013, 2:02 am

        not so long ago, were all supporters of nazi germany complicit in the holocaust or was it nazi party members only who were responsible

  15. dbroncos on February 6, 2013, 4:57 pm

    To the toughs at Brooklyn College – Bravo! You’re an inspiration to other college administrations and activists around the country who are or will be facing Zionist wrath and retribution for hosting discussions about BDS and human rights for Palestinians. Contrast Karen Gould’s showing of pride and self respect in standing up for academic freedom with Hagel’s wipped dog routine of whinging and whimpering before the Senate panel. Gould will rest easy at night with a smile of vindication on her face. Hagel, meanwhile, went into the hearings with a reputation as a straight talking war vet. He left as a coward and a liar. If he isn’t sobbing himself to sleep at night he should be.

  16. eGuard on February 6, 2013, 7:13 pm

    So there is the funding threat by 10 (9) City Council members (signed Fidler ea, Jan 29). Stephen Levin withdrew.

    Then there are the two “Nadler” letters (Jan 31 and Feb 6).
    In the Feb 6 letter, two names have disappeared:
    Assemblyman James Brennan
    Former Comptroller Bill Thompson
    What happened? They grew a spine in 7 days?

    • eGuard on February 6, 2013, 7:39 pm

      Both Stephen Levin and Letitia James only withdrew from the threatening Fidler letter (leaving 8), I could have read. Both are still on the two Nadler letters.

  17. chris o on February 6, 2013, 7:15 pm

    Bloomberg comes through with some succinct and devastating comments. I had confidence in him. He has extremely deep ties to Johns Hopkins and reading about that recently, he seems to credit the idea of the University itself for making him the success he became. And needless to say, the idea of the University is under grave attack by the craven NYC politicians.

    Membership does have its privileges. Membership in the billionaire politician club, at least. Bloomberg is not beholden to any lobbying group. He does not need one cent from anyone to run for any office. All the other politicians can’t say the same thing.

  18. dbroncos on February 6, 2013, 7:20 pm

    Hats off to Bloomberg. He shows that even “violently” passionate Zionists can have limits to what abuses they’re willing to tolerate in the name of Israel. However, I disagree with his opinion that Zionists should “just shut up.” That may be good advice, but its not fair advice. Zionists have a right to showcase their bigotry and intimidation tactics and I hope they continue to do so.

  19. ToivoS on February 6, 2013, 7:22 pm

    I suspect that in the long term it will Dershowitz’s reputation that will take the biggest hit. I am not sure if first ammendment principles were in play here, but without doubt this was a very clear violation of academic freedom. Alan had to know that from day one. He has become so incredibly arrogant, he believes all he has to do is hurl a charge of antisemitism or terrorism, and all legal principles can be thrown aside. He certainly got away with it in his advocacy of torture. A man above the law in his own mind for sure.

    Next time he raises the cry I suspect the gaggle of ignorant council critters will be just a little wary of hurling themselves against the barricades. Without question, it is the NY City Council that was most explicitly embarrassed by this affair. However, I would not expect them to know what academic freedom means, how it came about and has become part of US law. This will be one group hesitant to take any more legal advice of the good law professor.

    Yes indeed, this is a good day — the lobby has taken yet another hit.

    • Woody Tanaka on February 7, 2013, 9:16 am

      “I suspect that in the long term it will Dershowitz’s reputation that will take the biggest hit.”

      Doubtful. The people who are actually liberal or progressive have already looked at his pronoucements and found that he has no reputation left. The zios don’t care what anyone proposes. They have no respect for human rights whatsoever (unless it’s their own, of course), and he could propose rebuilding Auschwitz in the Negev and sticking the Palestinians in it and his zio supporters would still fawn over him.

  20. wondering jew on February 6, 2013, 8:03 pm

    Just looking at the signs in the photograph, how many of them apply to the heckling and the attempt to silence Michael Oren or Dichter: The right to tell your story. The right to take a stand. The right to history. The right to know. Reclaim speech. The right to honesty. The right to speak out. These signs would also apply to allowing Oren or Dichter to speak. Thus we have the hypocrisy of Students for Justice in Palestine.

    • on February 6, 2013, 9:12 pm

      “These signs would also apply to allowing Oren or Dichter…” To your fellow goons who dropped from a faraway planet and massacred, razed, annihilated the memory, the history, the rights and the dignity of an entire people? No they don’t. Oren or Dichter (and their Schleichers) have to stand in the dock; they may be then called to present a defence.

    • a blah chick on February 6, 2013, 9:48 pm

      I find it quite frustrating that every single weekend I have to put up with a parade of BDS advocates or their ilk! That Omar fellow practically lives on Meet the Press and I can’t flip a channel without seeing that Medea broad, dammit she’s everywhere! And that Phil guy from Mondo-whatever, well he seems to be the go to guy for all things Jewish on CNN.

      Would it hurt to have that nice Mr. Oren on TV every once in a while? Just so that we can get a Zionist perspective for once.

      • annie on February 7, 2013, 12:12 am

        yeah, for once if we could just get someone original, like bill kristol on a sunday talk show. instead it’s just omar omar omar every single week! jeez.

      • Alex Kane on February 7, 2013, 1:45 am

        This is a huge problem. We must put a stop to it.

    • W.Jones on February 6, 2013, 10:09 pm


      When Papa Bear came and got his 29 unanimous ovations from the US Senate, a lady got up and interrupted Papa Bear when he was speaking about how this is all democracy. She was viciously beaten up and hospitalized. I find her brave and admirable. That’s more bravery than I have. Her civil disobedience and her brutalization exposed that Papa Bear’s control over us is NOT democratic.

    • Cliff on February 6, 2013, 10:42 pm

      Oren is a government official. An unapologetic one at that. If it was Avital Leibowitz or whatever her name is or that Bedouin soldier who tours the US as part of a Brand Israel campaign to promote the lie that ‘Arabs’ are Zionist too (whilst his people are driven off their homes and land and ‘relocated’).

      But you shed your tears for them and equate the BDS movement, and probably the Palestinian struggle and Palestinian humanity, with the Israeli corporate propaganda campaign.

      Who cares if you think SJP is hypocritical? It’s an inane and superficial comparison.

      This is not an ‘equal’ conflict and I could care less about hearing what some spokesman for the Israeli government has to say. If that makes me a hypocrite, then it only does so in the most superficial comparison. But in terms of judging both events (BDS and grassroots activism against imperialism and colonialism VERSUS a guy who is going to rehash hasbara memes and politik everything as Dore Gold does when confronted with the absurdity of accepting Christian Zionist support with respect to the End Times process [Gold flipped the question and said, that Ahmedinejad is moving the End Times closer in actuality. LOL]) – I think anyone who supports the BDS tactic and listens to speakers like the Peleds or Anna Balzter or Barghouti, etc. is on the ‘right side of history’.

      That’s really the difference. There is no neutral voice in this conflict and there are no outside observers. Those who claim to be neutral are liars. Those who are ‘outside observers’ are tourists.

      You can tell your story WJ. In fact, no one is going to prevent Zionism from propagandizing US campuses. It’s already happening. Zionism is part and parcel of the US Establishment. So stop playing victim.

      • W.Jones on February 7, 2013, 3:32 am

        Dear Cliff,

        You wrote:

        You can tell your story WJ. In fact, no one is going to prevent Zionism from propagandizing US campuses… So stop playing victim.

        Were you referring to me? My point was that the lady who interrupted Papa Bear Netanyahu’s speech at the US Senate was brave to do so. Papa Bear got 29 unanimous ovations during the speech talking about how in the political situation he controls there is democracy.

        She interrupted him in an act of civil disobedience that one could consider infringing on Papa Bear’s right to speak to the hall of 100%-approving US Senators. Yet her civil disobedience and her brutalization exposed that the political situation is not democratic- otherwise she would not have been brutalized and hospitalized for speaking out herself in disagreement.

        So Yonah’s point was that Students for Justice in Palestine are infringing on Israeli speakers by protesting against their speeches. My (WJ’s?) response is that SJP students don’t brutalize or prosecute supporters of the Israeli system who oppose their speeches. But in cases like the Irvine 11 or the lady who interrupted Papa Bear Netanyahu’s speech where every US Senator gave him 29 ovations, the protestors perform civil disobedience and their brutalization and excessive prosecution by advocates of the Israeli system reveals that the abusers’ politics and system are not democratic.

      • Cliff on February 7, 2013, 11:13 pm

        WJ = WonderingJew

        Yonah’s original username

      • W.Jones on February 8, 2013, 2:44 am

        Oh, thanks. :)

    • Avi_G. on February 6, 2013, 10:50 pm

      wondering jew strikes again with false equivalence. (Why is that a recurring theme with Zionists?)

      Michael Oren was disseminating Israeli propaganda, a narrative that has countless unobstructed channels and avenues in the United States, be it trough the Establishment media, the White House, the State Department, Congress or Jewish hacks in prominent positions.

      To suggest that Oren’s lies, and misleading and immoral arguments, are somehow being silenced by a group of protesting students is not only ridiculous, it puts on display and in full view the delusional hysterics of the Zionists who roam Mondoweiss.

      Nice try, though.

      • Hostage on February 7, 2013, 12:14 pm

        wondering jew strikes again with false equivalence.

        Exactly. The 1st Amendment simply imposes a limitation on the power of our own government (which in-turn has been applied to the individual States through the operation of the 14th Amendment).

        It does not protect either foreign or domestic government officials/suspected war criminals from public ridicule:

        Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

        Ambassador Oren and Kadima MK Dichter were foreign government officials when they made their speaking appearances here in the US. You don’t need to go to North Korea to see abuses of the rights the 1st Amendment was intended to protect. In the University of California-Irvine case government officials, including the County Prosecutor and University Faculty members, employed the State’s police powers to silence and arrest people under the color of law so that they could help promulgate Israeli government propaganda or issue-advocacy.

        The executive branch of our government also used another law to dismiss petitions filed against Dichter. The relatively more recent Supreme Court decision in Samantar v. Yousuf limited the power of the legislative and executive branches of our government to grant immunity from petitions filed by the people in civil lawsuits which involve foreign government officials, like Dichter. Our government protects foreign officials who have committed criminal violations of the laws and customs of war (e.g. Matar et al v. Dichter). The FSIA was a law which had been routinely used to abridge the right to petition the government in such cases.

        Dichter should probably be content to exercise his right to remain silent. When it appears that the governments concerned are either unable or unwilling to conduct proper criminal investigations and prosecutions, that failure is supposed to trigger the complementary jurisdiction of the ICC.

    • chinese box on February 6, 2013, 11:34 pm

      Yonah your argument might hold up if the Zionist narrative hadn’t already been promulgated in the US almost exclusively for the last 40 years. Oren et all are out of talking points and ideas. What are they going to say at this point that everyone hasn’t already heard?

    • ToivoS on February 6, 2013, 11:36 pm

      yonah please don’t sound so dumb. There is a difference between an oppressed people resisting their oppressors and the oppressors lording over their subjects. No one denied Oren or Dichter their right to speak. The protesters welcomed that opportunity. It gave them a chance to heckle and boo their oppressors. Surely, you do not deny the Oren and Dichter are state actors that have the backing of the police and military from both the US and Israel to continue their oppression of the Palestinian people.

      To be comparable, the NY City Council should have showed up at the BDS forum and booed and heckled the speakers. Not use their state authority to deny them the right to speak. The NY City Council would then have the opportunity to show the world how these BDS proponents are the second coming of Hitler, how the Palestinians are oppressing Jews especially those in NY. Now that would be a comparable demonstration. That is a demonstration that I would welcome.

      In fact, it would be even better than the pathetic demonstration those oppressed council members and Dershowitz did give us.

      • wondering jew on February 8, 2013, 1:29 am

        Dear Geniuses:

        Free speech is not only an amendment to the u.s. constitution. It is an idea within itself.

        Might i suggest that sjp include asterisks in all their statements, so that we know that the words do not refer to their literal meaning, but specific interpretations. In this case, sjp really doesn’t care about free speech, they care about equal time. two different concepts.

  21. tokyobk on February 7, 2013, 3:54 am

    The exact wrong tactic thankfully rebuffed.

    Wrong tactic especially because Barghouti is such a mild-mannered and articulate spokesman. Without a doubt there will be people who leave the Brooklyn event thinking, “that was the guy I am supposed to fear?”

    I saw him speak with Professor Bromwich last night and he is open to discussing any criticism calmly (though he is obviously set in his ideas and avoids any discussion off his points). I had no problem asking him a question and he had no problem answering it.

    Bromwich was amazingly clear and delineated his own ideas about boycott in a way that I would love to hear someone attempt to rebut.

    As for above, I am surprised at those who would wave away Yonah’s point on the grounds that Zionists have been successful in permitting their ideas in government and media.

    So what. Free speech is free speech. The idea that “well were right and they are wrong so we get free speech” is even more ridiculous. Its free speech when you know for sure they are wrong and you are right.

    The equivalent is not Oren and a BDS rep. The equivalent would be Oren and the ambassador from Iran or (if there was one) North Korea. In fact, there was once a representative of the Taliban who was on a speaking tour in the US (I remember because a woman reporter showed up in the kind of one-piece burka that has mesh over the eyes and asked him about women’s rights). His response by the way was “I feel sorry for your husband.”

    All of the above were and would be be entitled to an uninterrupted hearing, though I realize as foreign agents their rights are not the same as a citizen.

    And, what is true of Barghouti and Butler is true of Oren. Interrupting someone who is able to speak calmly and articulately about their cause makes the interrupters look unhinged.

  22. Paul Statt on February 7, 2013, 6:57 am

    I hate to play Debbie Downer here, but Bloomberg’s defense is indefensible:

    “The freedom to discuss ideas, including ideas that people find repugnant, lies really at the heart of the university system.”

    He makes clear that criticism of Israel is repugnant per se. I see no victory in that.

  23. Robert P on February 7, 2013, 8:00 am

    “If you want to go to a university where the government decides what kind of subjects are fit for discussion, I suggest you apply to a school in North Korea”

    Or…[Non-Zionist version] “I suggest you apply to a school in Israel, which has just passed a law making it illegal to call for the boycott, where the media and academic community are subject to pre-publication military censorship and where political parties calling for American styled democracy for all Israel’s citizens, irrespective of national or ethnic identity, are outlawed and their leaders persecuted.” [See Azmi Bishara]

  24. gingershot on February 7, 2013, 8:06 am

    Dershowitz being stiffed, stuffed, and rolled back at Brooklyn College/BDS and his evil twin William Kristol getting denied over the Hagel nomination – these are beautiful times.

    The future of wide open discussion of Israeli Apartheid and worldwide sanctioning of the Apartheid state, as well as dismantling the enormous and critically important Israeli ‘must-have’ of embroiling the world in a war with Iran to give Apartheid a few more years of life-support – this is setting up a world where running the Ponzi Scheme of Israel is going to become impossibly difficult rather than the cruise-control autopilot ease of it basically running itself, or America running it for Israel, that the likes of Dershowitz and Kristol have enjoyed for a solid decade or two

    The future of Apartheid is being cast into chaos – all the nightflowers are dying.

    Apartheid needs to be impossible to run rather than easy – worldwide BDS (including from America) and no war on Iran – this is the end of Israel as we have known it

  25. Kathleen on February 7, 2013, 8:46 am

    Bloomberg “If they just shut up it would have gone away” He wishes that were the case.

    Bloomberg “violently” opposes BDS.

  26. Cliff on February 7, 2013, 10:42 am

    Wondering Jew is right !

    I’m sick of the pro-Palestinian media. Why do we send billions to the Palestinians? Why do we tolerate their colonialist agenda and discriminatory practices as well as their saber-rattling whilst we are at war in the region!?

    I’m sick of Palestinian Americans and their political agenda taking center stage at the Hagel hearing rather than our own soldiers fighting in Afghanistan.

    Absolutely absurd. Why do we allow our politicians to make Palestine the first and foremost issue when it comes to the ME?

    I’m sick of heparin and seeing the Brand Palestine propaganda campaign on campuses sponsored by the Palestinian government! And let’s not even get into the mob tactics that Palestinian Americans use to get an Israeli children’s art exhibit banned! Why do Iraqi children get to show their art but not Israelis when the Palestinians terrorized S’Derot in 2008?

    Thank you Wondering Jew for delineating the two ‘sides’ so clearly! You are a gem of wisdom.

  27. BillM on February 7, 2013, 11:05 am

    Just speculating, but I wonder how much of this to lay at the feet of November’s election. Bloomberg, whatever his sympathies, could have sat this one out. He could have stayed quiet. Alternately, he could have issued a milquetoast statement about not interfering with university governance and left it at that. But instead he took a stand in direct definance of the pro-Israel lobby’s line, and issued a full-throated defense of the first amendment and academic freedom.

    This is a man with national ambitions, remember. I can’t think of a single instance when ANYONE with national ambitions failed to either toe the pro-Israel line fully or just duck the issue. Bloomberg stepped into a fight he didn’t need to, and I can’t help but think this is a sign of how powerfully the recent election has reshaped conventional wisdom on what it takes to get elected. The old way of conservative attacks and almost subservient liberal replies (and I know Bloomberg considers himself neither) is out, and a newer style of drawing your openent into over-extending himself and hitting him hard while positioning yourself as defender of all things reasonable is in.

    • seanmcbride on February 7, 2013, 1:14 pm


      I think Bloomberg has some powerful libertarian instincts and really cares about free speech — he is very much an “Americanist” in that respect. I don’t think his behavior here was motivated by self-interested political calculation.

  28. Kathleen on February 7, 2013, 11:43 am

    ot watching the Panetta, Dempsey Benghazi hearing. Senator Chambliss really laid into General Dempsey on the attack saying “he was responsible” Have not heard one of the Senators say that congress voted against in particular Republicans voted against extra funding for security

  29. Les on February 7, 2013, 2:13 pm

    Congresswoman Yvette Clarke, as dumb as she as, may be the one person who pays a political price for her groveling.

    Congresswoman Yvette Clarke went on The Colbert Report last night, where she argued some questionable points regarding her borough’s history. Notably, Ms. Clarke contended that the Dutch continued the practice of slavery in Brooklyn in 1898.

    However, the Netherlands lost control of its colonies in the area to England in the 1674 Treaty of Westminster. Also, the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution officially outlawed slavery in 1865.

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