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What If They Were Muslim?: Zionists and Islamophobes Try to Quash Academic Freedom


by Mooneye & Garibaldi

A planned Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) forum at Brooklyn College on February, 7th has brought together an angry assortment of Zionists and Islamophobes, including influential New York lawmakers who are threatening to slash the funding of Brooklyn College for hosting and co-sponsoring the event–describing it as “anti-Semitic.”

Amongst those threatening Brooklyn College are: NY State Assemblyman Dov Hikind, who called for the racial profiling of Arabs and South Asians in 2009 because they fit the “terrorist” description. Alan Dershowitz, a well known apologist for Israeli war crimes has a track record of advocating for the suppression of Israel critics, and has made such absurd claims as the assassination of Bobby Kennedy by Sirhan Sirhan was,

“[I]n some ways the beginning of Islamic terrorism in America. It was the first shot. A lot of us didn’t recognize it at the time.”

Also advocating the suppression of the event is the Anti-Defamation League, an organization with a “very mixed” and troubling record on Islamophobia and which too often paints critics of Israel and Zionism as “anti-Semites.”

Glenn Greenwald who has covered the controversy in two extensive pieces over the past week in the Guardian described the efforts by Dershowitz and NY lawmakers this way,

Plainly, this entire controversy has only one “principle” and one purpose: to threaten, intimidate and bully professors, school administrators and academic institutions out of any involvement in criticisms of Israel.

Democracy Now which invited opponents to the BDS event, including the NY lawmakers (they all rejected the invitation) had a revealing report on the controversy, including interviews with one of tomorrow’s speakers, Omar Barghouti, as well as Glenn Greenwald:

In a break with the past, when such pressure would likely have led to the administration of such a college caving-in to the demands of Dershowitz and his allies, Brooklyn College has stood its ground,

The college administration has so far stood their ground. Brooklyn College spokespeople have said that the Political Science Department’s sponsorship of the event does not mean that it is endorsing the event, and that the college administration is “not going to tell members of our faculty what they can and cannot choose to support.”

In another unique development Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a self-described “big supporter of Israel” has come out strongly in support of academic freedom,

“If you want to go to a university where the government decides what kind of subjects are fit for discussion, I suggest you apply to a school in North Korea,” he said in a news conference at City Hall.

This may be a turning point in the public debate over the limits of criticizing Zionism and the state of Israel. In the past reflexive accusations of “anti-Semitism” drowned nuanced discussion on Zionism, Israel and Palestinian rights, now we are witnessing a hopeful sign of more balanced public discussion.

This also bodes well for those who are truly concerned about fighting anti-Semitism since it rescues it from the clutches of those who trivialize real anti-Semitism by conflating it with criticism of Zionism and Israel.

One can only imagine the Islamophobic repercussions that would have ensued if a lobby of Muslim organizations and lawmakers attempted a parallel attack on academic freedom. Hackles of Islamization and Islamic incompatibility with freedom would be endless.


Judith Miller & Omar Barghouti–BDS Movement for Palestinian Rights. Thursday, February 7, 2013, 6:30 EST. Brooklyn College E 27th St and Campus Road Brooklyn, NY 11210 Student Center Building PENTHOUSE


Update I: Our description of Dov Hikind’s extremism was not complete. Max Blumenthal has more on Hikind, including the fact that he was a member of the JDL and suspected of involvement in terrorism, (h/t: Dmitri)

Hikind gained his earliest experience in the early 1970s in local New York politics as an acolyte of Meir Kahane, the fanatical rabbi-turned-Israeli Member of Knesset who called for the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians and establishment of a theocratic state of “Judea” in the West Bank. “I’m proud of every single moment, let me make that very clear. Rabbi Kahane had a great influence on me,” Hikind declared in 2008. Under Kahane’s guidance, Hikind became active in the Jewish Defense League (JDL), a nationwide extremist network that attacked Arab-American and Soviet targets while rallying vigilante squads to “protect” working-class Jews living in African-American and Puerto Rican neighborhoods.


Dershowitz fights academic freedom at Brooklyn College

Alan Dershowitz to Brooklyn College: Academic Freedom For Me But Not For Thee

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  • Solid Snake

    ehh, your just describing a typical afternoon of a Muslim male.

  • Pingback: What If They Were Muslim?: Zionists and Islamophobes Try to Quash Academic Freedom | Islamophobia Today eNewspaper()

  • eslaporte

    “Who want the State of Israel to disappear” – well I don’t that and I doubt anybody else at this event does either – and this is the NEW method to launch obnoxious attacks on freedom of speech!

  • eslaporte

    It’s also the right to support right-wing terrorism and violence without the proverbial knock at the door by the FBI. We have loons sending fan mail to Breivik — just try to send fan mail to HAMAS….

  • Géji

    “The thing which most concerned me was the idea that a department was *sponsoring* such a very one-sided event”

    One sided? Perhaps you should study more to evaluate what “one-sided” in terms of ethnic-cleansing, apartheid, and the myriad of persecutions, oppressions that follows, really mean.

  • eslaporte

    That’s because it’s only freedom of speech when it’s their side … and their side is given vastly more tolerance by Western governments than other speakers…

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  • GaribaldiOfLoonwatch

    Hence one of the reasons why that statement is so absurd. 😀

  • GaribaldiOfLoonwatch

    BDS seems like a good non-violent way to combat the apartheid system. As far as the academic aspect of BDS it seems to have been misrepresented by many, as most in BDS are calling for a boycott of Israeli academic institutions and not individuals and scholars.

    I do urge you to read more on the topic to have a better understanding. It’s not about one-sidedness. Check out the links I provide in the article. This one from Mondoweiss gives a good update to the controversy:

  • mjasghar786

    So you haven’t seen that YouTube video of the Orthodox Jew slapping his daughter about in public or heard about those hassidics who stone cars on sabbat? And as for jailing dissidents just look around the world – the USA extradites people for posting views that are half as bad as the people on numerous us websites
    And gay people are persecuted in Christian Africa and Hindu India

  • Tanveer Khan

    Ikr. The world is full of fools…

  • Leftwing_Muslim_Alliance

    Are you sure you are in the correct chat room ? I ask this in the light of the above article makes you look really stupid.

    Sir David

  • mjasghar786

    What’s ironic is how pipes and Dershowitz are using arguments such as there needs to be an opposing viewpoint
    Yet both have repeatedly taken lots of cash for events where their viewpoint was the only one allowed – at many colleges
    There’s lots of articles on this at daily beasts open Zion – NY politicians have been calling for an attack on the univs funding and this has lead to the college downgrading its support and specifically putting itself as anti sanctions

  • GaribaldiOfLoonwatch

    I think that is exactly what Bloomberg was trying to say. He even mentioned that those lobbying against the event made it a larger issue by centering so much attention on it.

  • Just_Stopping_By

    It’s so sad when people try to prevent academics (individuals, schools, or, here, the political science department at Brooklyn College) from presenting their views and participating in scholarly or public debate. If academic freedom means anything, it is that we should give all academics the right to communicate through speech, publications, and presentations, and then let everyone listen and come to their own conclusions.

    I am happy to denounce those who think that their politics justify attempts to prevent professors and schools from being able to engage in the free academic and public expression that let them engage with the rest of the world.

  • mindy1

    Can they legally do that?? Shouldn’t colleges be places to express your thoughts?? Just arrainge a counter rally to tell the other side that’s all.

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