Upon arriving at Brooklyn College (BC) on the freezing evening of February 7th, I couldn’t help but notice the rows of police vehicles parked on the street, the police barricades on the sidewalks, the police officers monitoring protesters, counter-protesters, and lines of attendees waiting to enter the student center.
One could tell from blocks away that this was no typical student event. Unfortunately, the display of force wasn’t due to some prominent head of state making an appearance at BC; these flashing lights were for a peculiar anti-Israel fest taking place on campus.
The lecture, organized by a pro-Palestinian student group, was to promote the seemingly politically correct attempt to delegitimize the Jewish State through BDS —boycotts, divestment, and sanctions. What distinguished this from the usual anti-Zionist fringe gathering was the co-sponsorship of Brooklyn College’s Department of Political Science. Critics, including prominent alumni like Alan Dershowitz, state and city taxpayers, state and city legislators, and people like me were outraged; how could a publicly funded institution participate in promoting BDS, which seeks to eliminate the Jewish state?
The New York City Council suggested taxpayer money should not be used “to give official sponsorship to speakers who equate terrorists with progressives and the Israeli people with Nazis.” The university response ignored critics, claimed the college has the “academic freedom” to officially sponsor even the most odious of propaganda events, and Mayor Bloomberg arrogantly suggested critics apply to schools in “North Korea.”
As I entered the penthouse of the student center, it was apparent the room was stacked with anti-Israel obsessives: primarily members of the co-hosting pro-Palestinian student group along with the usual array of radical feminists, socialists, and greying zealots (often decked out in keffiyehs) that attend virtually every other anti-Israel event in the NYC area. Same crowd, different day.
The most disturbing part of the evening occurred early on. In the midst of Judith Butler’s soft-spoken rant, the audience was utterly silent until a voice near the door exclaimed, “This is an oppression of freedom of speech, this an oppression.” Looking over, I noticed Jewish students being removed from the room and thought to myself, “I guess kippas are not allowed.”
I later learned that the four students belonged to the campus Hillel organization; three were some of the same pro-Israel students initially denied entry because of the shenanigans with the RSVP list. Finally seated in the audience, they held information sheets in their hands with facts they could rely on to formulate questions later to challenge the speakers. Brooklyn College President Karen Gould herself had recommended “those who do attend with opposing views [should] participate in the discussion, ask tough questions, and challenge any ideas with which they disagree.”
One of the students, Ari Ziegler, published his account in the New York Daily News. Ziegler recounts how an organizing member attempted to confiscate the information, demanding, “Give us the papers or you’ll be removed.” The students refused and were forcibly removed by security. College spokesman Jeremy Thompson claimed that “Based on official reports, they were being quite disruptive.” If the students were being disruptive, however, why was the room silent other than Butler’s voice? I would have heard the disruption, had one existed, and there was none. City University of New York officials are now investigating the incident.
The Conservatives at Breitbart have the full article