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.”
This afternoon the Obama campaign held a conference call to highlight the high-profile controversies that occurred during Mitt Romney’s recent world tour. On the call, Obama For America senior advisor and former White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs and former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for the Middle East Colin Kahl suggested Mr. Romney failed “the commander in chief test” when he angered British politicians by questioning London’s readiness for the Olympic Games and when he upset Palestinians by saying the “power” of “culture” could explain the economic disparities between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
“He both offended our closest ally and triggered a troubling reaction in the most sensitive region of the world,” said Mr. Gibbs. “He certainly didn’t prove to anyone that he passed the commander in chief test.”
Mr. Kahl suggested the gaffes on this trip showed Mr. Romney isn’t ready to deal with “our enemies.”
“If Romney can’t handle our special relationship with the British…what’s going to happen when he has to deal with our enemies or has to deal with really tough situations?” Mr. Kahl asked. “It’s not that Romney struck out against a major league pitcher. I mean, here he struck out playing tee ball. This should have been easy and it wasnt for him, apparently.”