Photo Credit:
Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz

I took Brooklyn College to task when its academic departments sponsored BDS events and was criticized for trying to stifle those who oppose Israel’s policies. I stand by my actions. Brooklyn College is in a predominantly Jewish neighborhood, with a large Jewish student body. Freedom of expression must be balanced by the freedom to feel safe on a college campus, unthreatened by who we are and what religion we happen to follow. The college-sanctioned presence of BDS compromised this latter freedom.

Globally, the failure by BDS leaders to offer proper condolences following the terrorist attacks in Paris proved beyond the shadow of a doubt that its dogma is not anti-Israel but anti-Jew. This is a masquerade we see widely among so-called educated, civilized people but let there be no mistake: we know anti-Semitism when we see it.

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We can’t sit quietly and allow anti-Semitism on American campuses to continue to fester and grow. The Trinity/Brandeis Center report states that the 54 percent statistic, while alarming enough, may actually be on the low side and could suggest an under-reporting of anti-Semitism through the normal campus channels.

“One reason might be a belief that the authorities are not sympathetic to such complaints; another perhaps might be fear of worrying parents and family; or that some students simply are unaware of the process for reporting such incidents,” the report says.

Colleges need to be more than sympathetic to complaints about anti-Semitism, although for the schools on the top 10 list that would be a good start. They must keep the channels of communication open and send a clear message that expressions of hatred, whether subtle or obvious, will simply not be tolerated. They need to recognize how easily and frequently anti-Israel discourse deteriorates into something far more insidious.

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Steven H. Cymbrowitz represents the 45th Assembly District in Brooklyn, which includes parts of Sheepshead Bay, Midwood, Manhattan Beach, Gravesend, and Brighton Beach.

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