NEW YORK – A controversial event at Brooklyn College last week is continuing to
produce controversy, with an audio tape from the student event in support of the
boycott, divestment and sanctioning of Israel, sponsored by the political
science department, allegedly revealing discrimination against Jewish student
At a small press conference in midtown Manhattan, the editor in chief of the publication which acquired and published the tape was joined by a trustee of the City University of New York, of which Brooklyn College is a part, as well as a well-known civil rights attorney and Neal Sher, a former executive director of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.
“As a trustee of the university, it’s very
disappointing to be here,” Jeff Wiesenfeld said. “It’s very unusual... for a
trustee to have to sit and utter criticism.”
Wiesenfeld said Jewish
students were evicted from the event – which took place in a college event space
that all students pay a fee to use – “having been pointed out by the radical
organizers of the event.”
“I wouldn’t use the term kicked out,” a
Brooklyn College representative told The Jerusalem Post.
In a statement,
the college’s president and chancellor have committed to a “swift and thorough
review” to ascertain all the facts.
Sher accuses the college of “shooting
first” with its initial dismissals of the claims.
Dovid Efune, editor-in-chief of The Algemeiner Journal, a New York-based weekly that came into possession of the recording, said that only slight whispers could be heard on the tape from the event, where Jewish students were holding pro-Israel, anti-BDS flyers in quiet protest. The first words clearly heard in the recording cam from one protester who asked in response to her eviction: "Am I not allowed to hold a pamphlet?"
“Under federal law – specifically, Title VI of the Federal Civil
Rights Act – Jewish students are entitled to be protected from and the
university has an obligation to eliminate any hostile environment which causes
them to be fearful, to be intimidated, to be harassed because of their religious
and ethnic background. That is the law,” Sher said. “It’s very clear to me that
the City University of New York has got a problem. It’s got a very serious Title
If the law is enforced by the US Departments of Justice and
Education, Brooklyn College could find its federal aid at risk, Sher
Efune charged that the event was anti-Semitic under the working
definition used by the European Union, which states that applying double
standards to Israel, or calling it a racist enterprise that must be eliminated,
is itself hatred toward Jews as a collective body.
Wiesenfeld said that
political science professors who sympathize with Israel find it almost
impossible to gain tenure in the CUNY system today, given the political
environment that dominates its government departments.