Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz (D-Brooklyn) has asked the interim chancellor of CUNY to take “strong and immediate action” following Brooklyn College’s official “support” of its second anti-Israel lecture this year.
In a letter to William P. Kelly, who was appointed interim chancellor in July, Assemblyman Cymbrowitz expressed his outrage over Brooklyn College’s decision “to once again support a lecture that freely gives a podium to a divisive point of view without making any attempt to provide a balanced dialogue.”
The Nov. 14th event features British journalist Ben White, author of “Israeli Apartheid: A Beginner’s Guide.” White has likened Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians to the Holocaust, and in 2008 he came to the defense of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad when the leader said “Israel must be wiped off the map.” White was invited to speak by Students for Justice in Palestine, the same group that hosted anti-Israel academic Omar Barghouti in February.
“Publicly funded institutions do not have the right to spew hatred without permitting an equal response. Universities that accept government funding do not have the right to make a large segment of their own community feel uncomfortable or unwelcome on a campus where they are supposed to feel secure,” he said.
The lawmaker said that Brooklyn College’s sponsorship of the lecture is the antithesis of a college’s mission to encourage intellectual growth and free range of thought. “It is disgraceful and arrogant, and as a member of the Legislature I am appalled that I have been forced to take Brooklyn College to task for a breach of conduct not once, but twice, this year.”
He said that until recently, the idea that Brooklyn College would promote anti-Semitism was “beyond preposterous,” especially to its many Jewish students and faculty and the area’s many Holocaust survivors. “The president of Brooklyn College, Karen Gould, apparently doesn’t mind creating controversy and perhaps she even enjoys it. To those of us who help keep CUNY in business, however, this is unacceptable,” Assemblyman Cymbrowitz said.