On Wednesday, elected officials sent a new letter to Brooklyn College President Karen Gould regarding the college’s Political Science Department’s co-sponsorship of a student-organized event entitled, “BDS Movement Against Israel,” to be held at the college on February 7.
The letter noted steps taken regarding this and future events. Among them, President Gould sent a letter to Brooklyn College Hillel, stating that the college “does not endorse the BDS movement nor support its call for boycott, divestment, and sanctions against Israel,” and affirming the college’s history of “engagement with Israel and Israeli universities.”
Gould stated that Brooklyn College does not endorse the views of the speakers visiting the campus. “We do, however, uphold their right to speak, and the rights of our students and faculty to attend, listen, and fully debate.”
The signers of Wednesday’s letter restated their strong opposition to BDS. “These simplistic and one-sided approaches do a disservice to the cause of peace and stability by unfairly placing blame entirely on one side … by attempting to delegitimize one party on the world stage, and will do nothing to bring either party back to earnest negotiations or enhance a better understand of complexity of this conflict.”
The letter was signed by Congressman Jerrold Nadler, Councilman Brad Lander, Speaker Christine Quinn, Comptroller John Liu, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, Borough President Marty Markowitz, Members of Congress Yvette Clarke, Nydia Velazquez, and Hakeem Jeffries, State Senators Kevin Parker and Daniel Squadron, Assemblymembers Rhoda Jacobs, Karim Camara, Joan Millman, and Walter Mosley, and Council members Tish James and Steve Levin.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Wednesday he “couldn’t disagree more violently” with the pro-BDS viewpoint; however, he also very strongly agreed with the right of an academic institution to sponsor a forum on any topic of its choice.
The college says it will hear other viewpoints in coming weeks.
On Tuesday, Assemblyman Dov Hikind posted online that he has reached out to individual Brooklyn College trustees and major donors in an effort to convince President Gould that it was a serious error to allow the school’s Political Science Department to officially co-sponsor the event “Brooklyn College relies on tax dollars as well as contributions from generous individuals,” Hikind pointed out. “My fellow elected officials on the New York City Council, the New York State Assembly, and the New York State Senate will continue to raise our voices in strong objection to this event’s official sponsorship by a Brooklyn College Department. I am hopeful that donors, too, will raise their voices and help convince President Karen Gould of the error in allowing this event to be sponsored and endorsed by the college itself.”
Wednesday’s letter to President Gould urged the college’s Political Science department to add to its written policy that sponsorship does not imply endorsement.