So, now that the maelstrom surrounding the BDS forum against Israel at Brooklyn College has been filed in the ash barrel of history, a review of what transpired outside the Student Union building on February 7 is necessary.
As members of the media, The Jewish Voice and other assorted reporters representing a wide section of the press were denied access to the forum and were unable to hear and provide coverage of what precisely was being said by the notoriously anti-Israel speakers. Obviously, we find this move appalling as it stands in clear violation of our first amendment rights of freedom of the press.
If this entire sorry affair weren’t true, it could headline in the theater of the absurd. For the last few weeks, pro-Israel students, community leaders and elected officials have repeatedly protested the co-sponsorship of both Brooklyn College and their political science department of the BDS forum, saying that they have no problem with providing “academic freedom” to the Students for Justice Palestine who were the organizers of the forum, but object to the fact that BC would be giving their tacit approval to the objectives of the forum through their sponsorship. The administration of BC issued a series of letters stating that they categorically reject the views presented in the forum, but insisted that in the name of all “freedoms”, that this event needed to go on as scheduled.
As news trickles in, it appears that four Jewish students on campus who had attended the event planned to ask some bold questions to the speakers while handing out positions papers with an opposing point of view. Anyone schooled in Jeffersonian democracy knows that in order for a standard of equity to take place, many sides of an issue need to be aired, and on the evening of February 7, they were not.
The students were ejected by campus security and were intimidated in a menacing fashion by the pro-Hamas apologists who populated the room.
So, there appears to be a glaring double standard going down in the hallowed halls of Brooklyn College. On the one hand, the organizers of the forum were granted their freedom of speech, their right to assemble in order to bash Israel and level spurious accusations of “racism” at the democratic Jewish state, while those who opposed their views were forcibly silenced. What makes this even more troubling is the fact that the press was barred from attending; unable to record the proceedings for posterity.
Here’s yet another issue that demands redress. That is of academic integrity. As was voiced by some of the pro-Israel demonstrators who gathered outside the student union building to express their discontent; what of the role of the political science department? The question arises as to what the teaching policy is as it pertains to Israel, especially for those taking political science classes.
Does the curriculum demand that students ingest, as a point of undisputed fact or history, that Israel is a state that practices apartheid against the proverbial “victim” in this hate filled narrative, namely the Palestinians? Are students being taught that the fact that Israel is a Jewish state with a prominent Jewish character is somehow racist, even though Muslims, Christians and people of all faiths are granted full religious and political rights? Are such facts as Arabs serving as members of the Israeli parliament and having equal say in government affairs in Israel being quashed to further a nefarious agenda of total demonization and isolation of Israel?
No one has provided answers to these questions, but then again it’s not very surprising. Seems like freedom of speech at BC is a one-way street and we know which way the political winds are blowing. Perhaps it’s high time for the taxpayers who support CUNY to have their say on the educational standards being imparted to their students and perhaps the folks at CUNY would do well to stop worshipping at the feet of those who would seek our destruction.