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September 25, 2016 / 22 Elul, 5776
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Brooklyn College Poli-Sci Supporting Academic Boycotts of Israel

Ironically, given its promotion of an event that would silence academics, BC's Poli-Sci department is defending its involvement in the event by invoking "academic freedom."

Professor Corey Robin

BC Pol. Sci. Asst. Professor Corey Robin

In her email, Gould wrote, “it is incumbent upon us to uphold the tenets of academic freedom and allow our students and faculty to engage in dialogue and debate on topics they may choose, even those with which members of our campus and broader community may vehemently disagree.”  Her email made clear she was not open to further discussion.

The school provost and the vice president for academic affairs met on Monday with a small group of students, but only after the decision had already been made that the case was closed, and the college president’s memo to that effect had already been delivered.

Rosenberg asserted that the banner of “academic freedom” was being waved by the school administration to condone the political science department’s “efforts to escalate tension on the campus” on this divisive issue and it was a “cover to push a political agenda.”  He said, “the students of Brooklyn College will not stand for it.”

So what is it that the Brooklyn College political science department – emphatically and repeatedly- has endorsed?  Omar Barghouti will be encouraging all who come to listen that Israel is an Apartheid State, and that there should be no support for it or interaction with it academically, economically or culturally.  In a 2010 interview posted on Youtube, we are afforded a good picture.

Barghouti’s YouTube interview is chock-full of falsehoods.  For one thing, he says that in its 2004 advisory opinion about the Separation Barrier that Israel erected to prevent terrorism, the International Court of Justice called on “all states to do whatever is possible to take down that wall”; that “there are two sets of laws in Israel, one governing Jewish citizens and one governing the non-Jews”; and that in Israel non-Jews are “discriminated against in every single domain of life,” including being barred from working in the high tech (wrong) or telecommunications fields (wrong), as well as many others.

It is expected that those are the kinds of misrepresentations and untruths that Barghouti will share with his Brooklyn audience.  It is, however, unlikely that he will tell them that he attended and has a graduate degree from Tel Aviv university.  Some Apartheid State!

When challenged about his decision to do exactly the opposite of what he tells everyone else to do, Barghouti told an Israeli reporter, “My studies at Tel-Aviv University are a personal matter and I have no interest in commenting.”  And for the ultimate irony: Tel Aviv University, citing academic freedom, refused the petitions signed by many calling on it to expel Barghouti for his hateful and hurtful calls to boycott Israel.

Having received a flat-footed refusal from Brooklyn College officials to weigh their views before making its decision, a student group has posted an online petition calling on the political science department to rescind its decision to sponsor the event.

UPDATE: The author of this article received an email from Paisley Currah, Chairperson of the Brooklyn College Political Science Department, the content of which is:

The Brooklyn College political science department has released a statement:
Statement, January 30, 2013
A student group at Brooklyn College has organized a panel discussion regarding the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, a non-violent response to the State of Israel’s handling of the Palestinian conflict. On college campuses around the country and across the world, this issue is being discussed. Brooklyn College should be no different. The department of political science has thus decided to co-sponsor this event. We encourage students and members of the community to attend, pose their questions, and air their views.
It’ s also online at
http://www.brooklyn.cuny.edu/web/academics/schools/socialsciences/undergraduate/polisci.php.

The Jewish Press notes that the “panel” for the “discussion” consists of two members, both of whom seek to convince everyone to engage in the Boycott of, Divestment from, and Sanctioning of Israel.  No other viewpoint is being presented or has been endorsed by the Brooklyn College Political Science Department.

Lori Lowenthal Marcus

About the Author: Lori Lowenthal Marcus is the U.S. correspondent for The Jewish Press. A graduate of Harvard Law School, she previously practiced First Amendment law and taught in Philadelphia-area graduate and law schools. You can reach her by email: Lori@JewishPressOnline.com


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