The BDS event scheduled to be held on Feb. 7 will feature Omar Barghouti, Palestinian activist and founder of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, and Judith Butler, a feminist philosophy professor at the University California, Berkeley and outspoken supporter of the BDS movement against Israel. Brooklyn College's political science department is co-sponsoring the program.
“While student clubs are certainly entitled to put on whatever events they wish that conform to school guidelines, it is reprehensible that a school department is willing to officially dignify this event,” StandWithUs CEO Roz Rothstein said in a press statement, calling the event “an effort to promote bigotry, prejudice and hate against the Jewish state and its supporters.”
Meanwhile, a petition has also been started by students at Brooklyn College urging the school to withdraw its support, the Jewish Week reported.
Karen Gould, president of Brooklyn College, released a statement to her staff defending her decision to allow the event.
“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,” she said.
But Harvard Law professor and pro-Israel activist Alan Dershowitz, who is also an alumnus of Brooklyn College, questioned Gould’s decision to invoke academic freedom.
“Academic freedom simply does not include the power to proselytize and propagandize captive students whose grades and futures depend on faculty evaluations,” Dershowitz wrote in the New York Daily News.
“I can understand the department of political science sponsoring a genuine debate over boycotts, divestment and sanctions in which all sides were equally represented. But the event in question is pure propaganda.”