Ever since Brooklyn College’s political science department made the controversial decision to co-sponsor a forum promoting BDS–boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel–New York City’s elected officials have thoroughly condemned them and even hinted that the publicly-funded institution could suffer financial consequences as a result. At a press conference today on Hurricane Sandy relief, however, Mayor Michael Bloomberg passionately defended the university’s right to sponsor the event.
“I couldn’t disagree more violently with BDS,” Mr. Bloomberg explained. “As you know, I’m a big supporter of Israel–as big of a one as I think you can find in the city. But I could also not agree more strongly with an academic department’s right to sponsor a forum on any topic that they choose. If you want to go to a university where the government decides what kind of subjects are fit for discussion, I suggest you apply to a school in North Korea.”
The Israel-Palestine conflict once again reached New York’s political scene today as elected officials and other activists gathered to denounce Brooklyn College’s political science department for their controversial decision to sponsor a February forum calling for boycotts, divestment and sanctions against Israel. To say the press conference was heated would be an understatement as it was chocked full of charged rhetoric including multiple references to anti-Semitism, the Holocaust and al-Qaeda.
“Let me tell you, it brings back a lot of memories,” Assemblyman Dov Hikind, the emcee of today’s denunciation, began. “I studied here towards my B.A. and got my Master’s at Brooklyn College, a lot of very fond memories. I stand here very, very disappointed, … students and the organization [are] holding a lecture next week with two viciously, viciously, anti-Israel [speakers]. And when I say ‘viciously,’ I mean they call for the destruction of the state of Israel. They think Hamas and Hezbollah are good organizations. I would assume they feel the same way about al-Qaeda. These are individuals who are extreme radicals.”
On a recent Thursday afternoon, Councilman Jumaane Williams was sitting half a foot away from the small round table in his office, lamenting that he can’t do as much as he’d like with the job he currently has.
“A lot of us are trying to do the best we can the way the rules are set up,” said Mr. Williams. As he spoke, his body jerked, tossing his arms a few inches in either direction, and bouncing his long tightly-wound dreadlocks. “The rules are problematic, so, let’s go and change the whole structure. The structure is bad.”