Do progressive Americans care about the Israel/Palestine issue? I think they do. Last night Josh Ruebner spoke at Brooklyn College and supported BDS (then rode Amtrak back to DC) and tonight Ben White will be speaking there, despite a vigorous campaign to shun him. His subject is Israel: Apartheid not Democracy. The British author will “unpack the facts” about segregation and colonization in Palestine.
Check out these amazing photos of pro-Palestine activists bracing for the two speeches. The one above is particularly moving, because it is so defiantly about the status of the Other in American society– a category that minorities and majorities, from blacks to Jews to women, have defiantly occupied when they sought their rights.
More photos here and below, from friends at We Will Not be Silent.
Naturally, the New York Daily News is going nuts over Ben White’s appearance. It publishes an attack by Tammi Rossman-Benjamin:
Does Brooklyn College have a Jewish problem?
For the second time this year, the university’s political science department has outraged the Jewish community by agreeing to co-sponsor events hosted by Brooklyn College Students for Justice in Palestine, an organization whose sole mission is to engage in campus activities that demonize and delegitimize the Jewish state.
And this editorial slamming Brooklyn College’s administration, for not having more pro-Israel speakers on campus. I wonder how many students are demanding such appearances?
Now, [Political Science Chair Paisley] Currah’s department is again pushing talks by anti-Israel speakers — Josh Ruebner and Ben White — who view the very establishment of the Jewish state as illegitimately and immorally oppressing Arabs. And [Brooklyn College president Karen] Gould and Currah can’t get their stories straight about what role the college is playing and under what standards….
After the controversy early this year, Brooklyn College drafted a manual defining what it is to co-sponsor, support and sponsor a speech. How’d that work out? Gould’s office and Currrah are fighting over whether the poli-sci department is “co-sponsoring” or “supporting” this week’s talks, with both sides saying the department doesn’t endorse the events…
In an email exchange with this Editorial Board, Currah said there were a “variety of speakers we have co-sponsored in the past , including pro-Israel speakers like Elliott Abrams, Alan Dershowitz, and Leonard Garment.” He also said that “our department has never refused a request from a student group or an academic department to co-sponsor a talk,” suggesting that poli-sci had supported a pretty full range of ideas.
Pressed further, Currah revealed that Dershowitz lectured in 1974 and Garment in 1998 — which only serves to highlight how scarce the department’s pro-Israel speakers have been. Abrams spoke this year. Count him a lone voice in the wilderness.
As for the full list of co-sponsorships, Currah sent what appeared to be 10 events. Five were presentations on gay, lesbian and transgender issues. The others included talks by Daily News columnist Juan Gonzalez, Glenn Greenwald and Abrams. There was also a Shirley Chisholm Day and an Anita Hill Conference.
Here’s the scorecard: three lectures by pro-Israel figures, who may or may not have talked about Israel, over nearly four decades. Three lectures by virulently anti-Israel advocates in the space of 10 months. That is not balance.