It was wrong for the political science dept. to in any way sponsor what looked like an exercise in anti-Israel propaganda, rather than an educational event. It would be another story if this were a forum honestly interested in discussing BDS from a variety of views. For example, if it were to include Alterman, J Street U or CUNY professor Peter Beinart. But this is about advancing an anti-Israel agenda, not an honest educational purpose. It reminds me of the ill-conceived panel at The New School that I wrote about a few months ago."All of us at Brooklyn College supported BDS’s right to free speech. No departments agreed to join political science in co-sponsoring the talk. Never have I been prouder to be a member of any community, academic or otherwise."
Student groups should continue to have a very broadly interpreted right to sponsor on-campus programs (including this one), but not with the kind of imprimatur provided by a college department or program unless they really mean it to be an honest discussion. At the same time, I hold no truck with some self-appointed "defenders" of Israel who were most riled by this matter.
But it does seem that M.J. Rosenberg went overboard in attacking Rep. Jerrold Nadler and other local liberal politicians for their nuanced expression of concern. This is from my comment at the Tikkun Daily site, where both Rosenberg and I currently blog:
I know personally that Rep. Nadler believes in a negotiated two-state solution. He is not as open to Palestinian views and concerns as I am, or others are in the dovish pro-Israel camp. But his view should not be ridiculed as M.J. does here, with ironic quote marks around the fact that he is indeed, “progressive.”In case anyone doubts that this was meant to be an anti-Israel event, one should look at the views of Judith Butler, even more caustic and concerning than those of the global BDS founder, Omar Barghouti (the other featured speaker). I understand that she characterizes the hate-spewing Hezbollah and Hamas movements as "progressive."
It would be unfortunate if the general student body at Brooklyn College is penalized with public spending cutbacks, as threatened by one or two public officials; this would be contrary to academic freedom and would confer a symbolic martyrdom on advocates of BDS, as purported exemplars of free speech. Given this movement's desire to boycott Israeli universities and academics, this would be an obscene irony.