web analytics
April 18, 2014 / 18 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Zionist Organization of America’

Seeking ‘Peace’ by Waging War?

Saturday, March 29th, 2014

All along this has been the modus operandi of the Palestinian-Arabs and their supporters.  They have fired thousands of rockets at Israeli civilians; committed shootings, stonings and bombings; and incited hatred and violence among the Palestinian-Arab population.  Outside of the region they seek to defame or delegitimize Israel or punish Israel economically.  This onslaught has been incessant. Hardly the ingredients for “peace.”

A major conference taking place in Philadelphia on March 28 and 29 by supporters of the Palestinian-Arabs looks to perpetuate the attacks rather than end them.

Friends of Sabeel North America (FOSNA) is staging “The Role of the US in Israel-Palestine: Current Realities and Creative Responses” at the American Friends Service Committee (the Quakers) headquarters in Center City Philadelphia.  FOSNA is a support arm of a radical Christian Palestinian-Arab group based in Jerusalem called Sabeel.

Sabeel is a stew of Christian liberation theology and replacement theology that politicizes religion to advance a political agenda.  In this case, that agenda is an end to the Israel we know and love; an Israel that serves as a vital ally to America.

Rather than truly seeking ways to co-exist or to build up a normal Palestinian-Arab society, FOSNA has assembled a roster of Israel haters and antagonists to present discussions and workshops geared toward delegitimizing and defaming Israel, hurting the Jewish state economically and eroding support for Israel – particularly among American Christians.

Based on a conference schedule posted on its Web site, the FOSNA conference will encourage the termination of American military aid to Israel; recast “the Israel-Palestine conflict as a civil rights struggle, with parallels to South Africa and the American South;” seek to increase anti-Israel activities on campuses; and promote the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.  FOSNA believes that the mainstream media is not already biased against Israel and thus will discuss strategies to make it more unfavorable to Israel, and to turn more Christians against Israel.

According to its Web site, conference sponsors include: Adalah-NY: The New York Campaign for the Boycott of Israel, American Friends Service Committee (Quakers), the Catholic Peace Fellowship, the Philadelphia Coalition for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel, the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia Jews for a Just Peace, and the Peacemaking Committee of the Presbytery of Philadelphia.

To the Jewish community, the lack of a consistent position regarding Israel within Christianity can be confusing.  Groups including Friends of Israel (founded in 1938), Christians United For Israel (founded about a decade ago) and smaller groups such as Delaware’s Olive Tree Ministries are fervently pro-Israel, while other Christians such as the Quakers and “Main Line” Protestant denominations have been antagonistic toward Israel.  This divide is as old as the modern State of Israel itself.

When the State of Israel declared its independence in 1948, many Palestinian-Christian clergymen abandoned the Hebrew Bible because they believed it was too Zionist.  In an effort to reclaim it for their people, they replaced the Israelites with Palestinians in the narrative.  For example, instead of adhering to the biblical context of the Exodus, they supplant that with an interpretation of the Palestinian-Arabs going to the Knesset, saying: “Let my people go!”

“Palestinian Liberation Theology” takes interpretive liberties with the biblical accounts and prophecies of the Hebrew Bible in order to mold it to specific political and theological agendas.  It maintains that certain Torah passages are outdated and irrelevant, claiming they reveal a primitive way of understanding G-d’s revelation to man.  A majority of these “irrelevant” sections often involve G-d’s promise to give or return the Jewish people to their land.

“Palestinian Liberation Theology” is still considered fringe within mainstream Christianity.  Its proponents wish to advance the cause of the Palestinian Christians, who desire to create a Palestinian state.  The impetus for the movement stems from “Replacement Theology,” a faulty method of biblical interpretation that claims the church has replaced the role of Israel in the Bible.  Denominations that commonly hold to “Replacement Theology” to a degree include some Catholics, Presbyterians, Episcopalians, Lutherans, and Methodists.

Mort Klein Re-Elected as ZOA President

Sunday, March 9th, 2014

At the Hilton on City Line Avenue at the far northwestern edge of Philadelphia county, just across the highway from the tony suburbs of Lower Merion Township, the annual convention of the Zionist Organization of America is taking place today, Sunday, March 9, and tomorrow.

At around mid-day Sunday, the two contenders for the seat of president of ZOA, the incumbent, Mort Klein, and the challenger, Steve Goldberg, spoke to the crowd, setting out the reasons each believes himself best qualified to lead the ZOA.

Klein has been the president of the organization since 1993.

Goldberg has been on the national board of the ZOA for five years, and was the president of the Western Region of the ZOA for a time.

The tallying of the votes cast by the delegates began at about 3:00 p.m. ET and at 3:30 the results were announced. Mort Klein won re-election. The vote was 115 votes for Klein, 9 votes for Goldberg.

Goldberg remarked to Liz Berney, Klein’s campaign manager, “I did better than I thought.”

The campaign was extremely ugly, filled primarily with nasty charges leveled against Klein by Goldberg, and, eventually, a response to those charges and counter charges against Goldberg.

Everyone suffered, including the mission of this important organization.

Now that the votes have been tallied, all the complaints and the boasts should be left behind and the organization should – it must – move forward in a positive direction.

Intemperate Challenger for ZOA, Mort Klein Should Win

Sunday, March 9th, 2014

Tomorrow, March 9, there will be an election in Philadelphia of all eligible delegates to the Zionist Organization of America’s annual convention. The delegates will be voting for the person they want to be president, the person they want to lead the oldest Zionist organization in America.

For the first time in more than twenty years, this is a contested election. There are two candidates. One, Mort Klein, has been the president of ZOA since 1993. The other, Steve Goldberg, had been Klein’s protegé and has been, with Klein’s support, a vice president of the ZOA national board for the past five years.

Goldberg filed his candidacy papers for the office of ZOA president five weeks ago, at the last possible moment under the ZOA’s Charter rules. Since that time he has attacked Klein relentlessly.

The issues Goldberg has raised include lack of transparency, disproportionate compensation to Klein and underwhelming fundraising and membership growth.

Some of Goldberg’s charges against Klein are totally without merit. Some are accurate but wildly exaggerated, either in terms of the severity of the problem or the nexus to Klein himself. These include the criticism about ZOA temporarily losing its tax-exempt status and the salary and benefits Klein receives. Others are accurate and need to be addressed.

There must be, as Goldberg suggests, a responsible transition plan put in place for ZOA as quickly as possible. The organization needs to become far more bottom-up, less top-down, and controls should be put in place so that people are adequately mentored, and those at the top have strict term limits. None of these constitute grounds to eject a devoted and highly successful, charismatic leader for an untried upstart whose personal behavior raises huge red flags.

Goldberg has leveled many harsh charges against Klein. After an initial obstinate refusal to engage, Klein and his re-election team lashed out at Goldberg, pointing out previously unknown, but troublesome patterns of behavior and action they say make him unworthy of leading the national organization.

The charges and counter-charges need to be addressed and evaluated. Goldberg’s campaign site is savethezoa.com, and Klein’s is ReelectzoapresidentMortKlein.com.  About the vast majority of those charges, a careful reader should be able to come to her own conclusions; they won’t be addressed here.

But the bottom line question has to be, what will best preserve the ZOA: replacing Klein with Goldberg, or retaining Klein as president.

There is lots of ugliness to go around.

What is there positive to be said? About Steve Goldberg: he is clearly intelligent, he has degrees from fancy schools, he’s been involved in pro-Israel activity for many years, and he’s obviously energetic and creative. What’s more, Goldberg was the president of one of the ZOA district offices, and is a member of the ZOA national board. That shows experience and familiarity with the organization.

There’s much more of a track record for Klein. He took a bankrupt, dying organization, revived it, and turned it into a driving force in the public discourse on Israel and the Middle East conflict. He’s fearlessly captained the ZOA upstream when the rest of the major American Jewish organizations fell into line, one by one, in support of many of the worst self-inflicted disasters to befall Israel over the past twenty years.

Klein opposed Oslo when the popular position was to sign on and believe peace was on its way. Klein emphatically, vigorously fought against the removal of all 9,000 Jews, living and dead, from the Gaza Strip and northern Samaria in 2005, when even most of the so-called right wing supporters of Israel supported the “Disengagement.” And Klein has consistently fought against the idea of dividing Jerusalem and of creating a Palestinian state given that the acting leadership of the Palestinian Arabs – like their predecessors – support the annihilation of the Jewish State.

Black State Senator: Academic Boycott of Israel Antisemitic

Wednesday, January 8th, 2014

Pennsylvania state senator Anthony Williams (D-8) is condemning as anti-Semitic the American Studies Association’s recent decision to boycott Israeli academics. Williams introduced a resolution into the Pennsylvania legislature on Tuesday, Jan. 6, in which he calls out the ASA and calls on all colleges and universities in the commonwealth of Pennsylvania to reject antisemitism and refuse to participate in the ASA’s boycott of Israel.

“I’ve been greatly disappointed by recent actions taken by people lauded as ‘scholars,’ and particularly offended by them as someone who fights for equal justice for all. The only glimmers of hope I’ve seen in this debacle are the rigorous and principled retorts and rebukes of the ASA boycott by academic leaders in our area, across Pennsylvania and across the country,” Williams said in a statement released to the public on Jan. 6.

“The rationale offered for this boycott is flimsy at best; intellectually dishonest at worst, and seems to indicate an encroaching anti-Semitic sentiment that was shameful a century ago, but even more so as we enter 2014. Intolerance will not lead to acceptance or understanding. An exchange of ideas, even conflicting ones, will bring us closer to that desired outcome, which once was the goal of higher education. Let’s hope it will be again.”

In Williams’ Pennsylvania Senate Resolution 279, the background of and the backlash to the ASA Israel boycott is laid out clearly. Important facts, such as that a mere 16 percent of the ASA’s membership voted in favor of the boycott, and that so many presidents of leading universities and academic associations have condemned the ASA boycott, are spelled out.

To date, 145 college and university presidents have condemned the ASA boycott, including the president of every Ivy League institution and nearly all of the top ranked schools in America.

What is emphasized most strongly in the Resolution is that Israel is a Jewish democratic nation which promotes academic freedom and free speech and educates students from around the globe.

The Resolution Williams introduced concludes that the “practical effect of the American Studies Association Israeli boycott is a resurgence of anti-Semitism.”

If passed, Williams’ anti-boycott resolution will represent the full Pennsylvania Senate’s condemnation of the ASA’s boycott of Israel “in the strongest possible terms.”

THE RESOLUTION HOLDS THAT THE ASA BOYCOTT IS AN ‘ANTI-SEMITIC, BASE FORM OF BIGOTRY’

The resolution, if passed, will represent the Pennsylvania legislature’s view that the ASA boycott is an “intolerable, anti-Semitic, base form of bigotry and hatred” which is “unacceptable and cannot be tolerated.”

The Resolution was sent to the Education Committee. The Jewish Press will track its progress.

Although his district – Pennsylvania’s 8th – does not have a large Jewish population, Senator Williams has long been a stalwart friend of Israel and of the Jewish community. He introduced legislation last year, PA Senate Bill 47, which would mandate Holocaust education in Pennsylvania public schools for grades six through twelve.

ASKED PENN PRESIDENT NOT TO HOST BDS CONFERENCE, THEN CAME AND SPOKE OF HIS REJECTION OF BDS TO JEWISH STUDENTS

In the winter of 2012, the University of Pennsylvania played host to a Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions conference. Williams opposed the university playing host.  This is what he wrote to Penn president Amy Gutmann:

While an ardent supporter of free speech, [I believe] hate speech remains an exemption from this privilege,” he wrote. “Based on prior evidence brought to my attention, that is to what BDS amounts. I would no more support this event than I would a Klan rally, a homophobia convention, a ‘birther’ march, or an Islamophobia assembly on the Penn Quadrangle.

When Penn chose to host the conference anyway, Williams showed up at Penn’s Hillel building to speak with Jewish students and express his solidarity with them.

REJECTED JVP’S CALL FOR WILLIAMS TO REJECT ZOA AWARD

At this year’s annual gala dinner of the Organization of America’s Greater Philadelphia District, held on Oct. 9, Williams was honored with the Friend of Zion Award.

Senator Williams not only gladly accepted ZOA’s award, he rebuffed a public overture made to him by Jewish Voice for Peace and other cloyingly named anti-Israel groups which urged him to decline it.

Those groups warned Williams that the ZOA is a “fringe right-wing group” which supports “the illegal – and chronically violent – settler movement,” condemns “Palestinian expressions of national rights,” and even had the temerity to “endorse Knesset legislation that could revoke the citizenship of Palestinian citizens for alleged ‘disloyalty.’”

The anti-Israel Jewish groups threatened Williams.  They warned that if he went to the ZOA event and accepted its award, they would go to the media and explain that Williams was intolerant to the Muslim community, which comprises a portion of his own district.

Williams responded to JVP both in deed and with words. The Pennsylvania state senator not only accepted ZOA’s award to him, he gave a ten minute speech about why he did. The video of that speech can be seen at the end of this article.

Williams told the crowd that “forty years ago the Jewish community and the African American community locked arm in arm and fought to provide civil rights for all citizens. So when you challenge me on the integrity of my friends, the only thing I can resort to is that you are not my friend.”

In one of many statements Williams made that brought the crowd to its feet, Williams thundered,

There is a state of Israel not just because Jews wanted it, but because the world demanded it. Israel is not a mistake, it is not an affront it is not a robbery, it is a contribution in a region that sometimes is not only sexist and racist but also ignorant about democracy.

Williams concluded his remarks by acknowledging that his appearance at the event and acceptance of the award would likely be a talked-about chapter in his political history. But, he said, “I am proud to carry this award, I am proud to be a part of this event. Shalom.”

Watch his entire speech here:

 

4 Major American Jewish Orgs Rebuke Cardozo Over Carter Award

Wednesday, April 10th, 2013

Wednesday afternoon, April 10, a journal from Yeshiva University’s Cardozo School of law will be presenting former President Jimmy Carter with an award, honoring him for his “human rights record.”  The Jewish Press has covered developments concerning this award and responses to it, extensively.

In addition to the many alumni and concerned individuals who spoke out against the Carter Cardozo Award, four of the largest American Jewish organizations have weighed in over the last 24 hours, all expressing their disgust 0ver the decision of a Jewish-affiliated school to give kavod (honor) to someone like Jimmy Carter.

On Tuesday, April 9, two organizations called on Cardozo to rescind the Carter honor. The Zionist Organization of America issued a statement, describing Carter as having a “repellant, decades-long record as an Israel-basher and promoter of Israel’s most vicious enemies, including Hamas.”

The National Council of Young Israel also issued a statement calling on Cardozo to rescind the invitation to Carter.  Farley Weiss, the president of the NCYI, wrote, “Mr. Carter’s well-known animus and bias towards the State of Israel has earned him widespread condemnation from Jews and non-Jews alike, and he certainly does not deserve to have any honor bestowed upon by him by an entity that has ties to the Jewish community and the Jewish State.”

On Wednesday, April 10, the day of the award ceremony, the Simon Wiesenthal Center and the Anti-Defamation League each publicly criticized Yeshiva University’s law school for choosing to honor and provide a platform to someone with such a well-documented anti-Israel history.

Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Wiesenthal Center, said the Cardozo law students had not exercised “due diligence” before choosing Jimmy Carter as an honoree.

“Had they done so,’ he told the Algemeiner, “they would have discovered that Mr Carter has never resolved his conflict with the Jewish state. His serial bias against Israel is well-documented. That alone should have led tomorrow’s lawyers, whatever their ethnicity or religion, to conclude  that President Carter should not receive such an honor.”

The ADL’s Foxman slammed the students, saying, “The students were wrong – they are entitled to be wrong and inappropriate and we are entitled to say that honoring former President Carter is wrong, especially for  a Jewish institution…and indeed for any institution.”

In response to Cardozo’s refusal to revoke the award and ceremony for Jimmy Carter, the Coalition of Concerned Cardozo Alumni issued the following statement:

It is shameful that President Richard Joel of Yeshiva University and Dean Matthew Diller of the Benjamin N. Cardozo Law School are not prepared to take a moral stand and rescind the invite to honor Jimmy Carter made by the Cardozo Journal for Conflict Resolution. By providing moral cover for those who would eradicate Israel and who despise America for her democratic values President Carter has caused irreparable harm to Israelis, Jews across the world and democracies across the globe. Cardozo has now provided a similar fig-leaf to President Carter and that is a terrible shame.

Jimmy Carter has an ignominious history of anti-Israel bigotry. He is responsible for helping to mainstream the antisemitic notion that Israel is an apartheid state with his provocatively titled book “Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid”, the publication of which prompted mass resignations from the Carter Center. He has met numerous times with leaders of the terror group Hamas, whitewashing their genocidal goals and undermining US efforts to isolate Hamas. And Carter’s record of slandering Israel is so voluminous that both CAMERA and Alan Dershowitz have written books refuting his lies.

It is disingenuous of the Cardozo administration to justify its decision to allow the event to go ahead in the name of “academic freedom”.  If a student journal at Cardozo were to invite David Duke to bestow an honor upon him, rest assured that Cardozo administration would not have remained aloof on the matter. By honoring Carter at a bedrock of the American Jewish community, Cardozo administration not only betrays the values of honesty, integrity and truth but it betrays its community of supporters who rightfully view Jimmy Carter as anathema to the aspirations of the Jewish people and the survival of the State of Israel.

Pre-Israel Visit, Obama Says Middle East Peace Possibility ‘Bleak’

Friday, March 8th, 2013

U.S. President Barack Obama met with more than a dozen representatives of American Jewish communities on Thursday, March 8, in advance of his trip to Israel.  That trip is expected to begin on March 20.

The meeting, which was not on the president’s public list of activities, included a range of political interest representatives, mostly from the centrist to politically left.  Although participants were not supposed to discuss the names of those present or what was discussed, enough information became available throughout the day to draw a general sense of what transpired.

The Anti-Defamation League, solidly centrist enough to be included in virtually every government gathering, was represented, along with several other typical participants such as the American Jewish Committee, the Conference of Presidents of American Jewish Organizations, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee and the Simon Wiesenthal Center.  Harvard Law School professor Alan Dershowitz was there, as were representatives from the radical leftist Americans for Peace Now and from an organization the political life of which practically began with the Obama presidency, and which seems to be on the decline, J Street, was also represented.  Based on many reports it appears there was no one from the unflaggingly pro-Israel end of the spectrum, such as the Zionist Organization of America.

The meeting participants made suggestions of places to visit and some urged the president to take a stronger stand against Iran.  Obama’s response was reportedly that “Iran needs to be able to climb down without humiliation.”

The topics of Syria, Turkey and Iran were discussed, but several participants said that the primary focus was on the “Israeli-Palestinian peace issue.”  The two day trip will include a two hour trip to Ramallah, during which Obama is expected to meet with PA leader Mahmoud Abbas.

Ardent supporters of Israel had been fearfully speculating over the past week that during his trip President Obama would once again make heavy demands on the Israeli government to engage in unilateral concessions.  Those fears appear to be unfounded.

All reports of the meeting reflected the sense that the U.S. president is conscious of the turmoil throughout the Middle East and the constraints that places on parties in the region.  Obama reportedly said that he has no intention of “delivering a grand peace plan” during this trip.

Perhaps the U.S. president is unwilling to repeat a major failure of his first term, when he practically demanded there be progress on the “peace process,” but, when met with the reality of the situation, had to chalk up that goal as a failed one.

It appears that what has been widely criticized might actually be good news: without an Israeli governing coalition in place, President Obama can point to that instability as the reason for disappointing those who are insistent that peace be made at all costs – even when that cost is guaranteed to mean war.

The single biggest news that came out of the White House meeting is that it appears even President Obama may have actually learned that the conflict in the Middle East has no simple answers.

Who knew that a president’s pronouncement that the possibility for Middle East peace is bleak would be such a welcome statement?

 

Schumer Cites Hagel’s Tears, but Smears Jewish Conservatives

Thursday, February 21st, 2013

As evidence continues to mount about why former Nebraska Senator Chuck Hagel is so high on the dance card of Iranian regime supporters and so low on the dance card of most pro-Israel supporters, the politicians supporting Hagel have begun to sound desperate.

New York’s senior senator, Chuck Schumer, may have just relocated this debate from the staid halls of congress and plopped it directly onto the high school dramatics level of bathos.

Schumer, who initially attracted attention when he publicly stated he was not sure about the Hagel nomination, then had an intimate tête á tête (multiply the last digit by many orders of magnitude) with Hagel in the White House.

It was during that bull session that the former Nebraska senator – perhaps with some assistance from others present – apparently convinced Schumer that Hagel was the right man to head the department of defense.

In the weeks since Hagel received Schumer’s hecksher, instead of soaring, Hagel’s star faltered as it grew ever more tarnished, with multiple revelations of anti-Israel and anti-American slurs.

But Hagel’s poor performance at his confirmation hearing was sufficient to convince enough congressional members to block the nomination’s movement to the full senate for a vote there.

There was concern in particular about documents that had not been turned over addressing compensation from potential worrisome sources.  In addition, some were uncomfortable with Hagel’s inability to field questions put to him during the vetting process. And then there were the questions of where the former senator stood with respect to various players in the Middle East, based on earlier comments and votes.

Now, while the senate is on a brief hiatus, revelations continue.

And just to show how low Hagel’s star has fallen, we learned that Wednesday morning, while Schumer was giving a talk to some business groups in Manhattan, he shared with them some of the details about the famous conversation he had with Hagel, the one that moved him onto the pro-Hagel for secretary of defense team.  Those details were not discussed previously, as they had been described as confidential.

What did Schumer learn? He learned that deep down, Hagel is an uber sensitive guy.  All Schumer had to do was explain why it was so hateful to Jews for Hagel to refer to them as the “Jewish lobby,” to share the pain of the double standard Jews have had to endure, and Hagel was cured!

According to Schumer, the scales fell from Hagel’s eyes.  And Hagel repented.  He felt their pain.  How do we know that?

We know that because Schumer brought his Wednesday morning audience into that intimate space with him, and told those listening what he felt.  “And he really, you know, he almost had tears in his eyes when he understood. So I believe he will be good.”

Schumer provided inaccurate information about other matters Wednesday morning.  He said that “there is not a major Jewish organization against Hagel.”

That’s not true.

The Zionist Organization of America and the Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET) have been on record opposing the nomination of Chuck Hagel since President Obama first named him as his choice for secretary of Defense.

The centrist American Jewish Committee has been at least softly opposed to Hagel’s nomination even before the nod was officially given by the president.  Back in December, the AJC’s president, David Harris said, “what message would it send to have a Pentagon chief who has very different views on strategies for dealing with Iran, the central foreign policy challenge of our time, than the White House has had to date? Or questions the designation of Hezbollah as a terrorist group at the same time the Administration is urging the European Union to add the group to its terrorism list?”

And the politically centrist, Democratic Party-leaning Anti-Defamation League joined the AJC in strongly questioning the nomination after information about some of Hagel’s comments, in particular that he was recorded as saying that the “U.S. State Department is an adjunct of the Israeli Foreign Ministry,” at a speech at Rutgers University in 2007.

AIPAC NOT TAKE POSITIONS ON NOMINATIONS
Much has been made of the lack of opposition by the powerful American Israel Public Affairs Committee, but AIPAC never takes a position on a political nomination.  The absence of one in this situation should give no comfort to Hagel supporters, or signal anything else to those who have questions and are looking to organizational leadership for direction.

Brooklyn College BDS Event: Just One Example of ‘Hostile Environment’?

Thursday, February 7th, 2013

Tonight’s anti-Israel event sponsored and endorsed by the Brooklyn College political science department will take place on that school’s campus, but it now appears certain that the atmosphere of intimidation and distrust generated by that academic department did not begin, and will not end, with this event.

The BDS program tonight will be a one-sided session in which two leaders of the economic and political warfare movement known as BDS (Boycott of, Divestment from, and Sanctions against Israel), will promote that effort as a force for good.

Brooklyn College’s chapter of the anti-Israel organization Students for Justice in Palestine is the organization that brought the event to campus, but despite the disingenuous claim by the head of the BC political science department Paisley Currah, his department is not only co-sponsoring the event, it has endorsed it.

The school’s administration has steadfastly supported the event by describing it as the right of the students and the political science department’s exercise of “academic freedom.”  Brooklyn College’s president, Karen Gould, defined that concept in a letter she sent to the school community.  It is unclear how tonight’s one-sided event fits her definition.  She wrote,

As an institution of higher education, 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. As your president, I consistently have demonstrated my commitment to these principles so that our college community may consider complex issues and points of view across the political and cultural spectrum.

The head of the undergraduate student government rejected the administration’s understanding of the term.  Abraham Esses explained in an open letter to the BC community, that just as “the right to free speech, academic freedom rights are not unbounded; the department has basically yelled “fire” on campus, and locked the doors to their department after doing so. By doing so, it has failed to accomplish one of the main benefits of academic freedom rights, that is, the approach of all ideas and issues with an open mind. Such a failure constitutes a gross abuse of such rights.”

In an entry in the Chronicle of Higher Education, Currah rejects the notion that two sides to a story needs be presented in order to satisfy the rigors of academic freedom.  His view is that “debates have their place, but thoroughly understanding an argument requires sustained and concentrated attention.”  And just to be clear about where he and his department stands, Currah encouraged other academics to fight against full picture presentations, writing that “it’s important to argue against mandates that both sides (or all sides) of an issue be represented simultaneously.”

The anti-Israel event has been a magnet for commentary beyond the school community as well.  One practically needs a score card to keep all the players and their positions straight.

There are three main positions: first, that the event can take place on campus and the political science department’s sponsorship and endorsement is fine; second, that the event is permissible and can take place on campus but there should not be an endorsement of or sponsorship by an academic department; and third, the event should not take place on this publicly funded university at all.

In the first category we find the BDS event co-sponsors, endorsers and the school administration, as well as the broader BDS world.  Add New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg to this group, as well as the New York Times, and of course the ubiquitous circus act Max Blumenthal.

The second category’s supporters reject the overt participation of and endorsement by the BC political science department.  In their view that endorsement and sponsorship creates an inappropriate and perhaps hostile environment for BC students who support the existence of Israel.  In this category are the BC student government leadership and thousands of students who signed an on-line petition, Prof. Alan Dershowitz, and the Anti-Defamation League. Also in this group is the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York, which  issued this strongly worded statement last week:

The Jewish Community Relations Council of New York strongly condemns the decision of Brooklyn College’s Political Science Department to lend its name and imprimatur to an event featuring individuals who espouse extremist and hostile views. While we vigorously defend academic freedom, we believe that these freedoms do not extend to faculty and academic bodies exploiting their association with the university to enhance their biased and hateful agenda. At the very least, academic integrity requires a balanced forum representing diverse views. Since that is not the case, we call upon the Political Science Department to remove its name from this one-sided propaganda event.

Pro-Israel student activist Chloé Simone Valdary is also in this category, but she is calling upon the students and the larger community to speak out against tonight’s event in a cri de coeur, here.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/brooklyn-college-bds-event-just-one-example-of-hostile-environment/2013/02/07/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: