The Blurring of Academic Freedom and Anti-Israel Advocacy

Academic freedom is a treasured precept of academic life. Diverse student organizations on campus sponsor programs of varying kinds: some appropriate, some in poor taste or even hurtful. This is the price we pay for this diversity of opinion. 


Obviously, there should be no discrimination in admission policies for these events, and speakers should be treated with respect. Recent experience teaches us that anti-Israel propaganda at these events should generally be ignored or not protested so as not to draw undue attention to them. Instead, we should offer pro-Israel programs and celebrations.


But increasingly, academic departments are co-sponsoring one-sided forums advocating BDS (Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions) against Israel, most recently at the City University of New York, my alma mater. This goes beyond the pale of what we should find acceptable.


Below is a letter to the editor of the New Jersey Jewish News outlining my concerns on this issue:

To the Editor:

Re” “Putting the ‘pro’ into pro-Israel,” there are different approaches to confronting extremists, such as BDS (Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions) advocates, including ignoring them, as Andrew Silow-Carroll suggests (Editor’s Column, “Putting the ‘pro’ into pro-Israel,” Feb. 14). But the column doesn’t address the Brooklyn College Political Science Department’s co-sponsorship of this event.

This co-sponsorship gives institutional support to a hateful tactic aimed at the only democratic and Jewish state in the Middle East, one bordered by a country experiencing genocide, with over 60,000 victims.

This breach was the major source of the controversy. How can one expect an objective study of Israel in that department, when it cosponsors a seminar advocating such a vile tactic?

The department is Political without the Science.




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