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Jews Who Were Allowed in to Brooklyn College BDS Event

A New York Daily News reporter wearing a kippah, Reuven Blau, who had pre-registered and received confirmation, was barred from entering the event, even though other members of the press were present.

According to someone who claimed to be in line waiting to be admitted, SJP people allowed in members of the public who were not on any pre-registration list.  Yonah Fredman wrote in a talkback to an Algemeiner article that he believed he was not admitted because he was speaking against the BDS movement while waiting in line.

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LEGAL ISSUES First, because Brooklyn College is a public university and because the political science department was an official co-sponsor and co-endorser of the event, as Prof. Alan Dershowitz has pointed out, the constitutionally protected freedom of speech is involved.  The constitution only protects speakers from government censorship, not private censorship, but, as Dershowitz put it, “The sword of co-sponsorship may have become a shield to protect the First Amendment rights of the students who were prevented from handing out anti-BDS leaflets and asking anti-BDS questions.”

Jay Sekulow, the head of the American Center for Law and Justice and one of the leading “viewpoint discrimination” scholars told The Jewish Press, “to eject students merely because they had materials that opposed the point of view of the speakers – even if the students were distributing them – is classic viewpoint discrimination and is prohibited by the U.S. Constitution.”

Sekulow went further, “even if the students were understood to be potential troublemakers, the perception of potential disruption is insufficient grounds for ejection, there has to be actual disruption or the students’ removal is unconstitutional.”

Viewpoint discrimination is exactly as it sounds: when only one point of view of a particular subject is allowed to be aired and the other side is prevented from speaking.  The rule is that governments must make and enforce rules that are “viewpoint neutral.”

The New York Civil Liberties Union is frequently a litigant in viewpoint discrimination cases, but they did not return a call placed by The Jewish Press seeking comment on the potentially unconstitutional ejection of Jewish pro-Israel students from the BDS event.

The day before the BDS event took place, the NYCLU sent a letter denouncing the New York City Council member who threatened the “odious” event might harm public funding for the school.   Executive Director Donna Lieberman and Legal Director Arthur Eisenberg called Fidler’s statement “a stunningly impoverished vision of academic principles,” pointing out that the “First Amendment, embracing principles of free speech and academic freedom, assumes its most critical role when individuals seek to engage in provocative or disturbing speech.”

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If a full investigation is conducted which examines all the evidence that can be gathered – and there should be much – and if the Expelled Four were removed not because they caused an actual disturbance but because the SJP organizers did not want them present because of their viewpoints – or because they feared the students might be disruptive and not because they were disruptive – then a clear constitutional violation has taken place and serious consequences should follow.

And beyond the constitutional claim, the Brooklyn College administration repeatedly justified support for the BDS event by invoking the moral high ground of “academic freedom,” and “opportunity for questions and debate”; it committed an abuse of authority by failing to ensure there was just such opportunity for robust debate. Finally, the presence in the room of school administrators and faculty who stood by and allowed students to be removed from a public event for “vocal and disruptive” behavior that either did not happen or was so slight that a sensitive recording device did not pick it up and most people present were not aware of it, is shameful.

Trust in this academic institution is at a low ebb, making public the results of the investigation could go far to rebuild that trust.

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Lori Lowenthal Marcus is a contributor to the JewishPress.com. 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

20 COMMENTS

  1. Lori, we are dealing with a situation where the protection, like an etrog, of Islamic dictates is sacrosanct. So much so, that truth and justice is nowhere to be found, particularly within leftist academia.
    Want more heartburn? Take a peek – http://adinakutnicki.com/2013/02/03/the-nexus-between-western-academia-the-international-solidarity-movement-ism-leftist-jews-commentary-by-adina-kutnicki/.
    This jihadi circus is under the umbrella/terror hydra of the ISM, regardless of "this name or that name".
    Time to make them pay – leftist academia and their Islamic counterparts!
    Adina Kutnicki, Israel – http://adinakutnicki.com/about/.

  2. even IF the Jewish students were being disruptive, I say: RIGHT ON! so when would be the approprate time to be disruptive? when BDS/HAMAS carries out the real agenda? kill the Jews. Should Jews wait until they did in Nazi Germany? NO! Now is the time to BE disruptive.

  3. First, Was this incident taped? If not, why? That will show who is at fault.
    Secondly, this is a public institution funded by tax dollars. It cannot by law descriminate against any person wishing to attend. Lets hold the school adminstration accountable for allowing this to happen on public property.

  4. Lori, the ACLU is a gang of hypocrites from way back. Ramsey [Ramzi] Clark, LBJ's attorney general, was head of the ACLU back when Khomeini took over Iran. Clark was very favorable towards Khomeini's new regime. He even blamed the American Jews from keeping the US from welcoming and recognizing Khomeini. He was annoyed then with how the American Jews were using their freedom of speech. A Clark ally, the Nation magazine, even claimed that those writing the new Iranian constitution had "impecabble civil libertarian credentials."
    Don't expect any help from the ACLU. They are fake civil libertarians.

  5. the brooklyn college president should be removed on the basis of being an imbecile. the low IQ jew hater "in charge of student affairs" should be fired immediately. a civil rights lawsuit would be in order. as would lawsuits filed against individuals and their personal property. how dare our tax dollars be used for this crap.

  6. I was there, and two orthodox Jews in front of me were being disruptive just under the threshold necessary for being kicked out. Seriously, if you're planning on disrupting an event, then disrupt it with a political message, and if you're planning on sitting and listening, then just sit down and be quiet. You can't have it both ways – be disruptive at a panel discussion and then expect to maintain your seat.

  7. We must find a way to help our children deal with the hateful, violent culture that Moslem student and professors are bringing to American campuses or our children will not feel safe in public colleges anymore. The same way that Non-Moslems don't feel safe in Islamic lands.
    In Islamic countries like Syria and Iraq, these Moslems are killing and torturing each other, even children, in most savage ways and for them showing hatred toward "others", even when these "others" are Moslems is a normal way of life and a normal cultural mode.
    Maybe the next event in Brooklyn college should be called:" Lets learn how to deal with the hateful, violent culture that Moslem students are bringing with them to our Campuses". Intellectuals with the right experience, specially psychologists must be invited to help us deal with this issue. We don't want Brooklyn to change into an Islamic State.

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