Progressive Brooklyn and Citywide Elected Officials Respond to Steps Taken by Brooklyn College to Resolve Controversy Over Co-sponsorship of Anti-Israel BDS Event, Send Follow Up Letter to President Karen Gould
Today, Congressman Jerrold Nadler and Councilman Brad Lander – joined by City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, NYC Comptroller John Liu, NYC Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, Borough President Marty Markowitz, Congresswoman Yvette Clarke, Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez, Congressman Hakeem Jeffries, State Senator Kevin Parker, State Senator Daniel Squadron, Assemblywoman Rhoda Jacobs, Assemblyman Karim Camara, Assemblywoman Joan Millman, Assemblyman Walter Mosley, Councilwoman Tish James, and Councilman Steve Levin – sent a new letter to Brooklyn College President Karen Gould, in follow up to their previous letter of January 31st, regarding the Political Science Department’s co-sponsorship of a student-organized event entitled “BDS Movement Against Israel,” and to note important steps taken as a result of ongoing dialogue.
Below is the full text of the letter:
February 6, 2013
President Karen L. Gould
2900 Bedford Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11210
Dear President Gould:
We are writing to follow up on our letter to you of January 31, 2012, regarding the “BDS Movement Against Israel” event taking place tomorrow at Brooklyn College. We want to thank you for your leadership on this issue.
In our letter, we expressed concern that the Political Science Department’s co-sponsorship of this student-organized event suggested that it was an official position of the college, and encouraged action to make a more diverse range of views heard on this issue.
Equally, although it has been obscured in some media accounts, in our letter, we stood strongly for academic freedom for students and academics. We affirmed the right of students to sponsor the event. We did not request its cancellation. We did not, and would not, threaten the funding of Brooklyn College. We will continue to oppose efforts that would seek to undermine the free and open debate of critical issues.
We are grateful that the following steps have now been taken:
As we stated in our letter, we are strongly opposed to BDS. We continue to believe that “the BDS movement is a wrongheaded and destructive one, and an obstacle to our collective hope for a peaceful two-state solution. These simplistic and one-sided approaches do a disservice to the cause of peace and stability by unfairly placing blame entirely on one side, and 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.”
Others disagree, of course, and we will fight for their right to do so. But we will also continue to argue strongly against them. We note, for example, that many advocates of the BDS movement have called for a boycott of Israeli scholars and institutions, which would, of course, deny them their academic and free speech rights. This hypocritical position should not undermine our commitment to the fundamental values of a free society, but it speaks to the nature of the BDS movement.
In closing, we share your goal that Brooklyn College “should be a place free from hate; one where diverse points of view, on even the most controversial topics, may be debated without intimidation or fear of reprisal.”
Again, thank you for your leadership, dialogue, and action on this matter.
Congressman Jerrold Nadler
Councilman Brad Lander
Speaker Christine Quinn
Comptroller John Liu
Public Advocate Bill de Blasio
Borough President Marty Markowitz
Congresswoman Yvette Clarke
Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez
Congressman Hakeem Jeffries
Senator Kevin Parker
Senator Daniel Squadron
Assemblywoman Rhoda Jacobs
Assemblyman Karim Camara
Assemblywoman Joan Millman
Assemblyman Walter Mosley
Councilwoman Tish James
Councilman Steve Levin