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February 12, 2013

Abuse of Academic Freedom at Brooklyn College

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Even before Spring Semester began, students at Brooklyn College in New York City were alerted to an upcoming hate-fest at their school. Students, community leaders, and elected officials expressed shock at being greeted back with the college’s endorsement of an extreme anti-Israel event that bordered on anti-Semitic hate speech.

On Thursday, February 7th, Brooklyn College’s Political Science Department sponsored a forum titled "BDS Movement against Israel," where speakers advocated the boycott of products associated with the Jewish state. At this hostile event, pro-Israel students who tried to attend found themselves deleted from the registration list, while others were arbitrarily expelled from the event. Given the details of the event (described below), it seems reasonable to ask if those expelled were targeted because they were visibly observant Jews.

Omar Barghouti and Judith Butler were the main draws at the forum. Barghouti is the founder and one of the main advocates of the Boycott, Divest and Sanctions (BDS) movement. He has stated time and time again that his goal is the end the state of Israel through BDS, and the establishment in its place of a greater Palestinian state.

Butler, a professor who is vehemently hostile to Israel, uses her Jewish heritage to give some legitimacy to the cause. She has spoken in support of terrorist groups, stating at a 2006 teach in at UC Berkeley that “understanding Hamas, Hezbollah as social movements that are progressive, that are on the Left, that are part of a global Left, is extremely important.”

By sponsoring this event, Brooklyn University is promoting speakers who spew hateful rhetoric in praise of terrorists, espouse the end of Jewish sovereignty in the Middle East and compare the Jewish state to Nazis. This behavior it is akin to endorsing someone that is supportive of Al-Qaeda, as New York City Assemblyman Dov Hikind put it.

One claim of the BDS movement is that Israel is an Apartheid state like South Africa, where people were segregated by ethnicity.

This argument is rejected by those familiar with apartheid rule in South Africa, as explained by Richard Goldstone in his New York Times Op-ed “Israel and the Apartheid Slander.”

The BDS movement’s failure to cause economic harm has not prevented it from being used as a propaganda tool to delegitimize the Jewish state.

Even anti-Israel extremists such as Norman Finkelstein have condemned the BDS movement, calling it a “cult” and “dishonest” about its true intentions to destroy the country, adding that he “wouldn’t trust those (BDS) people.”

As Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz noted in his January 30th column in the Huffington Post, “The BDS campaign accuses Israel of ‘apartheid’ and advocates the blacklisting of Jewish Israeli academics, which is probably illegal and certainly immoral. The two speakers at the event deny Israel's right to exist, compare Israel to the Nazis and praise terrorist groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah.”

Shockingly, the Political Science department had neither been able to find the time to meet with students who had expressed concern about the event, nor been willing to endorse a pro-Israel speaker.

Prior to the event, Abraham Esses, president of the student government at Brooklyn College, reported that the school’s Political Science department had “repeatedly turned down students’ requests to meet and discuss the issue further. Student leaders with questions about the intent of the sponsorship were repeatedly denied meetings.”

Esses added that “the Political Science Department has failed its students miserably. Like the right to free speech, academic freedom rights are not unbounded; the department has basically yelled ‘fire’ on campus, and locked the doors to their department after doing so.”

Abraham Foxman, the national director of the Anti Defamation League (ADL) also weighed in the issue. In a recently published full page advertisement in the New York Times, Foxman drew parallels to sponsoring the Ku Klux Klan on campus, writing that “when a university department sponsors a blatantly anti-Israel program, or any discriminatory or hateful program, the event is afforded an added degree of legitimacy and credibility that is unwarranted.”

The organizers of this event argued that the university should sponsor this event on the grounds of free speech and academic freedom. Yet these very principles that were used to justify such were quickly violated once the event commenced. One of the students evicted from the event, senior Melanie Goldberg, stated, “Someone came to me and said, ‘Give me all your papers, or you’ll be forcibly removed from the event,’ . . . “Not only was it a violation of my freedom of speech, but they made sure to silence me.” Reporters – one of whom wore a kippah – were evicted from this event as well.

Elected officials in New York City have expressed disappointment as well, among them Assemblyman Dov Hikind, Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz, Councilman David Greenfield, Lew Fidler, and several others, sending letters stating that as what the university was doing was “either anti-Semitic or simply ignorant” while “promoting the worst kind of hate.”

Hikind went further, calling for the resignation of the president of Brooklyn College, President Gould, who has been supportive of the Political Science department. Hikind states “Gould’s job demands having the guts to do the right thing,” but supporting “a racist, anti-Semitic lecture series is not the right thing.”

An ironic twist is that Barghouti has chosen to attend an Israeli university. Jon Haber, an activist that has fought against BDS initiatives, writes in his blog that “there is no getting around the fact that [Barghouti] exemplifies the ‘do as I say, not as I do’ mentality that is the Alpha and Omega of BDS. I’ve often wondered how Barghouti gets away with continuing his dual role as perpetual Tel Aviv University graduate student and leader of the movement to have people like himself boycotted.”

This is hypocrisy at its worse. While Barghouti and Butler have invested considerable effort in encouraging an academic, economic, and cultural boycott of institutions in Israel, Barghouti has chosen to patronize an Israeli institution, where he is currently a PhD candidate. He was born in Qatar, grew up in Egypt and attended Columbia University; he certainly had options to study at many different institutions all over the world, including a Palestinian University. Although he is actively campaigning for Tel Aviv University’s demise, the university has taken no steps in punishment for such actions.

This one-sided propaganda espoused by the university makes students feel uncomfortable in expressing their opinions, as Dershowitz notes, adding that “Students have a right to promote immoral causes on college campuses but not departments endorsing it.”

The Political Science department created a hostile environment for its students by sponsoring this event, and in doing so delegitimized itself. It is hard to take the department seriously as it brings in speakers who spread hate and repeat absurd inaccuracies. Supporting BDS means standing against a two-state solution, it means standing against peace with Israel, and it means supporting an idea that will lead to a destruction of the state of Israel.

Although an academic department has the right to sponsor any speaker it may wish, there is a line between sponsorship of a speaker that promotes hate and academic freedom. It is for this reason that the university would never sponsor a speaker advocating for re-segregating public schools. Yet when it comes to calling for denying the right for Jewish self-determination and an aim that would surely lead to the suffering of millions, the university is fine with it. This is a double standard. What one has a right to do and the right thing to do are often two very different things. Brooklyn College did not go the responsible route befitting such an academic institution.

The online petition that the CCAP student group United4Israel and their president, CAMERA liaison Ahuva Kohanteb, put together opposing this event has attracted thousands of signatures. United4Israel students were active in putting together a respectful protest outside the event, speaking to the press about what has occurred at the university, and were some of the students who were evicted from the event, supposedly for holding a piece of paper with the “wrong” information on it. Now the question remains: How will Brooklyn College respond to the mistreatment of those who attended the forum in good faith, only to have their rights trampled by being ejected from the event?

Gilad Skolnick is CAMERA’s Campus Regional Coordinator.

Posted by dvz at February 12, 2013 04:15 PM

Comments

Butler, says, “understanding Hamas, Hezbollah as social movements that are progressive, that are on the Left, that are part of a global Left, is extremely important.”

Yes atleast we see the radical agenda of Islamo fascists supporters like Butler. The images of Hamas thugs lynching a supposed informer and dragging his body through the streets of Gaza behind a motorcycle. As it turned out the people Hamas murdered were just rivals of Hamas.

http://www.nydailynews.com/news/world/hamas-victim-dragged-streets-collaborator-widow-article-1.1208004
Hamas victim dragged through the streets of Gaza City Tuesday by motorcycle was no collaborator, widow says
It was a sight that shocked the world — the corpse of Ribhi Badawi being dragged through the streets of Gaza City Tuesday by a motorcycle as Hamas gunmen fired into the air.
Comments (26)
Matthew Kalman
NOVEMBER 26, 2012

Someone explain to me, why does the left love Arabs who hide behind civilians and use civilians as human shields.
Maybe Judith Butler can be the next human shield for Islamic terrorists.

http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4343397,00.html
Hezbollah moves into south Lebanon villages
Analysis: Terror group storing rockets in private homes it sold to poor Shiite families at bargain prices
02.10.13

This article goes in detail how Hizbollah uses villages as human shields.
http://frontpagemag.com/2012/davidhornik/israel-to-hizbullah-next-time-we-fight-to-win/

Look at the pictures on this site.
http://www.israelnationalnews.com/news.php3?id=116953
Photos, footage expose Hezbollah tactics
Prove intentional use of civilians to shield its weapons, equipment
Declassified IDF Photos and Footage Expose Hizbullah Tactics
Dec 06, '06
The IDF has decided to release photos, documents and videos proving Hizbullah's intentional use of civilians to shield its weapons, missile-launchers and surveillance equipment. A selection follows at:

Back to Hamas.
Only Judith could love Islamic fascists.
http://elderofziyon.blogspot.com/2012/03/hamas-celebrates-10th-anniversary-of.html
Hamas celebrates 10th anniversary of Netanya Passover massacre
March 27, 2012
Maybe I missed it, but I don’t recall seeing any Arabs protesting against this attack, or writing anguished op-eds about how a fellow Muslim could have done such a thing. No Arab groups popped up on college campuses calling for solidarity with Jews against terror. There were no UN resolutions condemning the massacre.
But there was a PA-sponsored soccer tournament in Tulkarem named after the suicide bomber.

http://elderofziyon.blogspot.com/2012/04/hamas-celebrates-anniversary-of-haifa.html#disqus_thread
April 01, 2012
Hamas celebrates anniversary of Haifa restaurant bombing
Hamas newspaper Palestine Times has a featured article celebrating the ten year anniversary of the bombing of the Arab-owned Matza restaurant in Haifa, that killed 16 Israeli civilians. The article includes photos of the bomber as well as of the devastation to the restaurant, whose roof collapsed from the force of the explosion.

Posted by: Ken Kelso at February 13, 2013 09:38 AM

As you explained, this was the start of the Spring Semester; so, the organisers of the 7 February bout of bigotry at Brooklyn College, used the opportunity to give the world yet another example of the real meaning of the Arab 'Spring'. :-)

Posted by: Moshe Harnissa at February 14, 2013 12:38 PM

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