Brooklyn College, in the Midwood neighborhood, would seem an unlikely place for Jewish students to feel besieged. Nearly a fifth of the undergraduate population is Jewish, and the college, at the heart of a once predominantly Jewish area, has produced a long line of prominent Jewish graduates.
Enter… B.D.S., an international lobbying movement that advocates Israel’s withdrawal from Palestinian territories — a demand that caused a furor in another unlikely enclave of Brooklyn last year when members of the Park Slope Food Co-op… rejected a motion… to boycott Israeli products.
Next week, two leading voices of B.D.S., which stands for “Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions,” are scheduled to speak at the college at an event cosponsored by a student group and the… college’s political science department, prompting a furious response from pro-Israel groups on campus and others who say the department’s sponsorship amounts to tacit endorsement.
“You do not have a right, and should not put the name of Brooklyn College on hate,” said… William C. Thompson Jr., the former city comptroller, who is running for mayor, at a news conference with more than a dozen elected officials, students and B.D.S. opponents outside the campus on Thursday. “They should be heard, but not with the official stamp of this college.”
The department’s decision — made after a vote by its professors — has brought condemnation and praise.
Other speakers were even more strident: “We’re talking about the potential for a second Holocaust here,” said… Assemblyman Alan Maisel… of Brooklyn.
The idea that a robust democracy can’t even have a public discussion, sponsored by a university, about the Middle East shows just how constipated America remains on the issue: