The BDS event at Brooklyn College took place last week, but the fallout continues and what is coming may be far uglier than even the dueling charges of anti-Semitism and Zionist censorship that preceded the event.
As has been widely reported, an effort was made to bar four Jewish pro-Israel students who had pre-registered and received written confirmation of admission for getting into the building, and then again in the building, for getting into the room where the event took place.
Then, once those four were finally in the event room, they were forcibly ejected within 15 minutes of their arrival at the behest of Students for Justice for Palestine leadership, by Brooklyn College security, and with the tacit approval of at least one Brooklyn College administrator, Milga Morales, the Vice President for Student Affairs.
We are now in a situation where there seems to be no two ways about it – someone is lying, maybe several people. And school officials, both administration representatives as well as faculty members were on the scene – so if the students were unfairly ejected, an apology will hardly suffice.
Perhaps the Jewish pro-Israel students who say they were tossed out of the anti-Israel event without cause aren’t telling the truth. Or perhaps it is the Brooklyn College administrators present at the event who confirmed and/or relied on students who claimed the pro-Israel students were being disruptive. But there is admissible evidence available upon which a conclusion can be made. So the next question becomes, what will the consequences be?
BACKGROUND As explained previously, the Brooklyn College division of Students for Justice in Palestine and the political science department of the college officially co-sponsored and endorsed an event at which two leaders of the virulently anti-Israel BDS movement – the Boycott of, Divestment from and Sanctioning of Israel – spoke on the Brooklyn College campus on February 7th. The purpose of the event was to promote the BDS movement.
Critics charge that the BDS movement does not merely encourage the Israeli government to stop policies with which it disagrees, as some claim, but through its form of economic and political warfare, BDS seeks to cause the ultimate elimination of Israel, the Jewish State.
PRECEDING THE FEB. 7 EVENT Prior to the event there was much heated debate over whether it was appropriate for Brooklyn College, a publicly-funded university, to host the one-sided BDS event at all and whether the political science department should have endorsed and supported it.
The administration issued statements defending the department sponsorship on the basis of academic freedom and the marketplace of ideas. Admitting that the school-sponsored event only offered one side of an extremely controversial and divisive event, these statements claimed there was no suppression of ideas or speech because anyone would be able – and all were encouraged – to “attend, listen and fully debate.” The BDS supporters got the green light from the school and the event took place.
THE CLAIM OF CIVIL RIGHTS VIOLATIONS Several pro-Israel students say attempts were made to intentionally block their attendance – some successfully – that non-conforming viewpoints were silenced and that Jewish pro-Israel students were rounded up and thrown out of a “public” event simply for having the “wrong” ideas.
WHO WAS EXPELLED The four Jewish students who were expelled from the event (the Expelled Four) are: Melanie Goldberg, 21, is one of the heads of the college’s Israel Club, is a Hasbara Fellowships Fellow and is a journalism student. She said she has spoken up at other anti-Israel events in the past, but only to ask pointed questions, not in a disruptive way which others have confirmed. The other female student who was ejected, Yvonne Juris, 22, is also a journalism student. The other two are brothers, Michael, 21 and Ari Ziegler, 23 – a Brooklyn College graduate student - both of whom are members of the campus Hillel.
EVENTS AS CLAIMED BY EXPELLED FOUR According to two of the four Jewish students who were ejected, as reported by Ari Ziegler, in the New York Daily News, and Melanie Goldberg, in a Facebook posting, and in a blog at the Times of Israel:
• Goldberg explained that she and the other pro-Israel students had pre-registered for the event and received confirmation several times through several different sources, yet they were initially unable to enter the room or the building because their names had been removed from the “official” list. It was only after the students were able to get a school administrator to intervene that they were able to enter the event room. How did that happen? That should be part of the investigation.
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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