Brooklyn College's BDS Event Sparks Outrage

Brooklyn College’s political science department is co-sponsoring an event aimed at promoting the BDS movement against the state of Israel.

Rachel Hirshfeld ,

Anti-Israel protest (illustrative)
Anti-Israel protest (illustrative)
Israel news photo: Flash 90

In a move that has caused a wave of criticism, controversy and protests, Brooklyn College’s political science department is co-sponsoring an event aimed at promoting the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against the State of Israel.

The event, which is scheduled to take place February 7 and is being organized by Students for Justice in Palestine, features virulently anti-Israel speakers, including Omar Barghouti, founder of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Campus Boycott of Israel, and Judith Butler, a professor of rhetoric and comparative literature at the University of California’s Berkeley campus and a supporter of the BDS movement, which  seeks to bring about Israel’s isolation and complete destruction.

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) expressed concern over the event and urged the president of the college to follow through on her assertion to the Brooklyn College community that the college “does not endorse the views of the speakers visiting our campus next week.”

“We remain concerned that co-sponsorship of the event by a department of the College is not consistent with President Gould’s statement of non-endorsement and, in fact, the department’s participation directly contradicts that message,” said Ron Meier, ADL New York Regional Director. 

“While we are strongly committed to the principles of academic freedom and free speech, and fully understand and respect the right of individual faculty members to associate themselves with and to participate in this scheduled program, we remain troubled by its one sided, anti-Israel nature,” Meier said.

In a letter to Brooklyn College President Karen L. Gould, ADL voiced its concern that the political science department still remains as a co-sponsor of the event.

The department’s co-sponsorship of the event represents implicit endorsement by the college, Meier wrote, “and we urge you to adhere to the message you sent to the Brooklyn College community and to make clear to the political science department that it should remove its co-sponsorship.”

The event has also prompted students at the college to sign a petition urging the university to “rescind its sponsorship” of an event that viciously and blatantly questions the state of Israel’s right to exist, The Jewish Week reported. 

“Both Barghouti and Butler are publicly on record calling for the elimination of the Jewish state,” the petition states. “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.

“We believe that the department’s sponsorship serves to condone and legitimize anti-Jewish bigotry, and that it will contribute significantly to a hostile environment for Jewish students on our campus,” the petition states.