Brooklyn College apologizes for ejection of Jewish students at anti-Israel event

Brooklyn College. Credit: Gabriel Liendo via Wikimedia Commons.

( Brooklyn College President Karen Gould apologized for the school’s forcible ejection of four pro-Israel Jewish students at an anti-Israel event hosted by the college last year.

On February 7, 2013, Brooklyn College hosted a Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) event, sponsored by Students for Justice in Palestine, which featured anti-Israel activists Judith Butler and Omar Barghouti. Four students—Melanie Goldberg, Michael Ziegler, and Ari Ziegler, and Yvonne Juris—were forced to leave by school public safety officials over allegations by a non-campus event organizer that the students were being disruptive and passing out flyers.

A City University of New York (CUNY) investigation on the incident said Brooklyn College public safety officers had “wrongly deferred” to a non-campus-affiliated event organizer who was motivated by a “political viewpoint” after hearing about one of the ejected students’ pro-Israel views at a prior campus event. The report concluded that there was “no justification for the removal of the four students.”

Gould acknowledged the findings of the CUNY report and said that the students had every right to “remain at the event.”

“I wish to publicly apologize on behalf of Brooklyn College to Melanie, Michael, Ari and Yvonne over the treatment they received,” Gould stated.

The apology was the result of a mediation process between the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) and Brooklyn College, facilitated by the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights, ZOA said.

"Brooklyn College has acknowledged the wrongdoing that occurred in connection with the February 2013 anti-Semitic BDS event, and has taken full responsibility for it," said ZOA National President Morton A. Klein. "This helps heal the wounds of the Jewish community at Brooklyn College, particularly the wounds of the four Jewish students who were forcibly expelled from the event without any justification. We urge Brooklyn College to ensure that it work to truly promote civility and tolerance, and aggressively address harassment and discrimination. The ZOA will continue to stay on top of the situation and make sure that the civil rights of Jewish students are fully protected."

In July 2013, ZOA had filed "a student-backed complaint against Brooklyn College under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, alleging a hostile campus environment for Jewish students, particularly in the political science department," according to a press release. Susan B. Tuchman, director of the ZOA Center for Law and Justice, praised Brooklyn College for reaching a negotiated settlement with ZOA.

"We are pleased that after months of negotiation with the ZOA, the College worked cooperatively with us in resolving allegations in the ZOA's Title VI complaint," she said.

Kenneth L. Marcus, president of the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law, said Brooklyn College's apology “reflects the fact that the university violated the constitutional and civil rights of our clients at a public event. This was a shameful incident, and we are pleased that the university has accepted responsibility.”

Posted on March 10, 2014 .