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B’klyn College Pro-Israel Students Deserve More than Late Apology

Brooklyn College BDS Forum, Feb. 7, 2013

Brooklyn College BDS Forum, Feb. 7, 2013

It’s been more than a year since four Jewish pro-Israel students (the JPI Students) were forcibly ejected from an anti-Israel talk given by two proponents of BDS, co-sponsored by and held at Brooklyn College. Finally, this past Friday, March 7, Brooklyn College president Karen Gould issued a public apology to the JPI Students. But that very-late apology should be only the very first step taken, according to the public interest law center representing those students.

First, a very quick recap of the events that led to this belated apology.

LEAD UP TO AND FEB. 7 BROOKLYN COLLEGE BDS EVENT

In January of 2013, it was announced that the Brooklyn College Political Science Department endorsed and co-sponsored with various Students for Justice in Palestine organizations a forum about the Boycott of, Divestment from and Sanctions against Israel (BDS) movement. The title of the forum was: “A lecture by Judith Butler and Omar Barghouti on the importance of BDS in helping END Israeli apartheid and the occupation of Palestine.” The sub-title, just in case you hadn’t yet understood the point, was “BDS, a strategy that allows people of conscience to play an effective role in the Palestinian struggle for justice.”

There was a great deal of concern and displeasure specifically that a school department would sponsor such a blatantly anti-Israel event, but the administration rejected the complaints. Of special note was Brooklyn College president Karen Gould’s statement that she approved the event solely on the basis of academic freedom, and she encouraged those who disagreed with the premise of BDS to attend the forum and engage in dialogue and debate.

The event went forward. Four pro-Israel Jewish students attended. They brought with them paper containing background information about BDS, which they intended to use during the Question and Answer session at the end of the talk.

Shortly after Judith Butler began speaking, an SJP official observed the papers and went over to the JPI Students, insisting they hand over the papers. The JPI Students refused. Then the SJP official brought over Brooklyn College security guards and the JPI Students were removed from the event. The Brooklyn College communications director later told the press that the JPI Students were ejected because “they created a disturbance” and “were disrespectful.”

THE AUDIOTAPE REVEALING NO WRONGDOING BY THE PRO-ISRAEL STUDENTS

That probably would have been the last anyone heard about the Feb. 7 event, except that later that week an audio recording of the entire event, made by someone in the audience the night of the BDS event, was discovered. The person who made the recording was seated one row in front of the students who were ejected.

Although the clicking of pens and even noise from outside the building could be heard on the audiotape, as well as the speaker’s voice, the tape revealed to a certainty that the JPI Students had not made any noise and certainly had not created a disturbance.

In fact, the first time a voice other than that of Judith Butler can be heard on the tape is when the SJP person told the JPI Students to hand over their papers. The only other discernible words from the audience occurs when the JPI Students were ejected, and one said out loud: “my free speech rights are being violated.”

Because there was irrefutable evidence that the JPI Students did nothing to warrant their expulsion, Brooklyn College was forced into, ultimately – painfully slowly and oh so reluctantly – apologizing to the those students whose rights had been violated.

While the wording issued by Gould on March 7, 2014, is clearly, finally, an apology, Brooklyn College has far to go before it has sufficiently rectified the wrong it did to those students.

About the Author: Lori Lowenthal Marcus is the US correspondent for The Jewish Press. She is a recovered lawyer who previously practiced First Amendment law and taught in Philadelphia-area graduate and law schools.


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12 Responses to “B’klyn College Pro-Israel Students Deserve More than Late Apology”

  1. Lani Lowell says:

    make them pay a chunk of money, and take the funds that would have gone to support BDS groups and politico agenda classes from the curriculum, and karen Goulds salary!

  2. Lani Lowell says:

    It also speaks volumes about how unsafe it is for Jewish students when events are in control by (Carlos Guzman of SJP who wasn’t even a student ) SJP ahem, moderators. they are downright dangerous, and proven by this videotape , liars.

  3. Lani Lowell says:

    thanks law center, please do make Brooklyn College pay a big chunk of money to those 4 students. then Brooklyn Colleg funds that would have gone to support BDS groups and politico agenda classes from the curriculum, will be tapered, as well as karen Goulds salary. the videotape is proof positive that when left in the hands of SJP , events on campus are downright dangerous for Jewish students? How did a non student take hold of student event as security? tragic, and I Hope the lawyers ream Brooklyn College. That would be the best education anyone in Brooklyn , and in college in NYC could have.

  4. Jonathan Weber says:

    The President of Brooklyn College needs to resign for the following reasons- 1. BC under her watch failed to protect the rights of the Jewish Students 2. BC under her watch failed to discipline those that violated their rights. 3. She was negligent in her duties as President of the College and intentionally or unintentionally protected those who lied, 4. She took a year to apologize. If she doesn't resign, she should be fired along with those administrators that turned a blind eye to what was happening that night. The Brooklyn District Attorney should probe whether this is a bias incident or if civil rights laws were violated..

  5. shameful-climate is bad for Jewish students and no one seems to care!

  6. shameful-climate is bad for Jewish students and no one seems to care!

  7. Alan Kardon says:

    Probably a big law suite got them to apologize. Why is the President of the college still working there?

  8. Alan Kardon says:

    Very well said, I applaud your comments.

  9. THE MUSALUMAS DON'T KNOW WHAT THE TRUTH IS….THEY ARE CHAMPIONS IN SPREADIND THE BIG LIE

  10. IT SEEMS BEING JEWISH NOW A DAYS IS NOT PC!

  11. Chaya Cohen says:

    hmmm an apology issued right after donations were collected… ponderous– #ProudBrooklynJew

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