Jewish Students Kicked Out of BDS Forum at Brooklyn College
While Brooklyn College’s Vice President Milga Morales looked on, four students were removed from the audience of a panel discussing the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement, for no explicitly apparent reason.
Karen Gould, president of Brooklyn College, sent a letter to the campus Hillel reassuring the Jewish student body that the BDS forum would promote freedom of speech and academic standards of enquiry, and encouraged the students to come and not hesitate to speak up. Her letter said, in part:
¨I expect all who attend or present at next week´s event to engage in civil discourse at all times, and I encourage those who do attend with opposing views to participate in the discussion, ask tough questions, and challenge any ideas with which they disagree,¨ she wrote.
Certain students were even turned away at the door, for no good reason, either. Israel Campus Coalition intern Melanie Goldberg said that she registered to attend the panel discussion three weeks in advance. She received two emails telling her that her entrance to the event was confirmed. When she arrived however she was told that there was no record of her on the list, and was not allowed entrance.
“I knew I´d have problems getting in,” Goldberg said.
Another student, Norma Chiabott, also was not allowed into the forum.
“I signed up yesterday and was second on the wait list and still didn´t get in,” she said.
The BDS forum was sponsored by the Students for Justice in Palestine. One of the students who was removed from the hall described what happened to him.
“I heard probably about half of what Judith Butler said when I got kicked out,” said Ari Ziegler, a 23-year-old CUNY graduate student. “CUNY police escorted us out and when we asked them what we did wrong they said, ‘we don´t have an answer.’ It’s disappointing because they had said that it was a forum for asking tough questions and trying to understand.”
Ziegler explained that they had information with them resting on their laps which they were planning to use to help them formulate questions for the panel. Since the papers on their laps were against the DBS movement, Ziegler believes this is the reason they were forced to leave.
“I was escorted out for nothing more than the fact that I was holding a paper that would help me assess my decision on my feelings over BDS,” said Michael Ziegler, a senior at Brooklyn College.
The non-intervention of the vice president of Brooklyn College, Ms. Morales, as the Jewish students were being removed is a loud and clear testimony to how Brooklyn College’s administration views academic freedom and freedom of speech.