Via the Guardian newspaper:
Brooklyn College’s academic freedom increasingly threatened over Israel event
New York politicians join the Alan Dershowitz-led campaign to dictate to colleges what academic events they can hold
guardian.co.uk, Saturday 2 February 2013 10.35 EST
Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz is leading the campaign against an event featuring Israel critics, sponsored by the Political Science department of Brooklyn College. Photograph: AP/Sergei Chuzakov
On Tuesday, I wrote about a brewing controversy that was threatening the academic freedom of Brooklyn College (see Item 7). The controversy was triggered by the sponsorship of the school’s Political Science department of an event, scheduled for 7 February, featuring two advocates of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS) aimed at stopping Israeli oppression of the Palestinians [one speaker is a Palestinian (Omar Barghouti) and the other a Jewish American (philosopher Judith Butler)]. The event is being co-sponsored by numerous student and community groups, including Students for Justice in Palestine, the college’s LGBT group, pro-Palestinian Jewish organizations, and an Occupy Wall Street group.
When I wrote about this earlier in the week, opposition to the event was confined to the usual suspects devoted to so-called “pro-Israel” advocacy, including many with a long history of trying to destroy anyone critical of the Israeli government. The controversy was largely fueled by BC alumnus Alan Dershowitz, who denounced the event in a New York York Daily News Op-Ed as a “hate orgy”. Dershowitz – with whom I had a lengthy and contentious email exchange yesterday on this and other topics (see below) – previously led the successful campaign to pressure DePaul University into denying tenure to long-time Israel critic Norman Finkelstein (after his tenure had been approved by an academic committee), all but destroying Finkelstein’s career as an academic.
Dershowitz has been joined in his current crusade by a cast of crazed and fanatical Israel-centric characters such as Brooklyn State Assembly member Dov Hikind. Ignoring the BDS movement’s explicit non-violence stance, Hikind publicly (and falsely) claimed that the event speakers (to whom he referred as “Barghouti and…the lady”) “think Hamas and Hezbollah are nice organizations, and they probably feel the same way about Al Qaeda”.
Hikind called on the college’s President, Karen Gould, to resign, recklessly insinuating (needless to say) that she’s an anti-Semite: “Perhaps President Gould wasn’t bullied; maybe she secretly approves. . . . I can only speculate to what her motivation or lack of motivation is in allowing this irresponsible endorsement of this loathsome event by her College.”). In 2011, Hikind led the campaign to force Brooklyn College to fire the young adjunct professor Kristofer Petersen-Overton for the crime of writing a pro-Palestinian paper (after firing him, the college rehired him days later).
One of the key members of Brooklyn College’s board of trustees, Jeffrey Wiesenfeld, is notorious for having led the 2011 effort to block CUNY from granting an honorary degree to Tony Kushner in light of Kushner’s Israel criticisms (“My mother would call Tony Kushner a kapo,” Wiesenfeld said of the Jewish playwright). When a New York Times reporter writing about the Kushner controversy asked Wiesenfeld whether one side of the Israel/Palestine debate should be suppressed, Wiesenfeld objected that “the comparison sets up a moral equivalence.” When the Times reporter asked him: “equivalence between what and what?”, Wiesenfeld replied: “between the Palestinians and Israelis. People who worship death for their children are not human.”
Read the complete article here.