The Israel Action Network commends the constructive efforts of the coalition of progressive elected officials, including leading mayoral candidates, the entire Brooklyn congressional delegation, and others, who both raised issues of concern regarding the ‘wrongheaded and destructive’ message of the BDS movement that ‘undermines our collective hope for a peaceful two-state solution,’ as well as concerns about preserving free speech and academic freedom.
Consistent with this approach, Mayor Bloomberg was right to take on the overreaches by some who called for withholding funding or calling for cancellation of the event. I am quite sure that the Mayor believes that elected officials and others have the same free speech rights as everyone else, and that from time-to-time, when they see something wrong or confusing, it is their job to help resolve issues in controversy. These officials worked with Jewish students and President Karen Gould at Brooklyn College to clarify college sponsorship rules—that department co-sponsorship of student-organized events does not imply endorsements of that event. In the course of the discussion with both students as well as with officials and concerned organizations, Gould made clear that neither the college, nor she personally endorse the BDS movement, and that the college has a proud history of engagement with and values Israeli partners.
There are now plans underway to bring a range of additional views on these issues to campus. We join with these leaders in hoping that the Political Science Department will follow this clarified policy and co-sponsor these events as well so that all perspectives can be offered.
Geri D. Palast, Managing Director, Israel Action Network.