Brooklyn College Says Event on Israel Can Proceed
Jenny Anderson, NYT, Feb 4 2013
Facing criticism for its decision to co-sponsor an event with speakers from an international group that advocates Israel’s withdrawal from disputed territories where Palestinians live, Brooklyn College indicated Monday that it still planned to do so, but would also host future events featuring opposing views. Karen Gould, the president of Brooklyn College, said in a statement:
Over the next two months, with the support of the Wolfe Institute for the Humanities and other campus units and community groups, we will provide multiple opportunities for discussion about the topics and related subject matter at the heart of this controversy.
The controversy erupted last month with the announcement that the college’s political science department was co-sponsoring an event featuring two speakers from the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) Movement. Several student and nonstudent groups are co-sponsors of the event, which is to be held at the college on Thursday. In her statement, Gould said she did not personally agree with the group, but supported its right to speak at the college. Critics, however, said Monday that it was not enough that she did not agree; they said that the college should not co-sponsor the event. Lewis Fidler, assistant majority leader for the City Council, wrote a letter to Gould on Jan 29 demanding that the event be canceled, or that the university revoke its co-sponsorship. He stated in his letter that he would withhold future support for extra money for the college if it were to allow the event to move forward. In an interview he said that he had supported nearly $25m worth of capital improvement projects for the college as a council member, but that he would be hard-pressed to do so now. He wrote:
The issue here is the imprimatur of credibility given to this extremely hateful speech by a department of a public university. We believe in the principle of academic freedom. However, we believe in the principle of not supporting schools whose programs we, and our constituents, find to be odious and wrong.
Gould said in her statement that the political science department would give “equal consideration” to co-sponsoring speakers of all political views. Alan Dershowitz, who had critiqued the college’s decision to co-sponsor the event, said:
I have heard from alumni who are considering withdrawing financial support of the school. I will not do that. I will fight against the lack of neutrality of the poli sci department, but not against Brooklyn College.
But can it? Will it? There are a lot of hateful, hate-filled haters out there, still tryana stop it – RB
Alice Walker backs Brooklyn College against Zionist bullying over BDS event and you can too
Ali Abunimah, Electronic Intifada, Feb 5 2013
Alice Walker is among the most recent persons to sign on to a statement expressing support for free speech at Brooklyn College in the face of a campaign of defamation and threats by Zionist organizations and politicians. The attacks on Brooklyn College were started by anti-Palestinian demagogue Alan Dershowitz, who denounced a planned Feb 7 event on boycott, divestment and sanctions, featuring Omar Barghouti and Judith Butler. The statement signed by Walker begins:
We deplore the efforts of politicians and others to bully student activists and faculty and to smear supporters of boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) against Israel as anti-Semites.
Others who have spoken out in support of Brooklyn College include Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters. New York politicians have even threatened the funding of Brooklyn College, part of the City University of New York, unless it toes their political line and suppresses criticism of Israel. Lew Fidler, Assistant Majority Leader of the New York City Council and one of the ringleaders of the attack on free speech at Brooklyn College, denounced Barghouti and Butler as “anti-Semitic fools.” The ADL also called on Brooklyn College to rescind the sponsorship for the event by its political science department. Many other politicians jumped on the bandwagon, even calling for the resignation of Brooklyn College president Karen Gould. But Gould has so far stood firm. In a Feb 4 letter to Gould, the Center for Constitutional Rights applauded Gould for “standing strongly in favor of academic freedom” and urged the college to “continue its principled stance in the face of increasing efforts to suppress speech expressing a viewpoint sympathetic to the Palestinian cause for freedom and equality.” Yet as the attacks continue, Brooklyn College Students for Justice in Palestine have called for support. The group has provided links for people to sign on to statements of support, as well as names and contact information for officials and model letters.