We Condemn Attacks Against Advocates for BDS and Palestinian Rights!
We the undersigned deplore the efforts of politicians and others to bully student activists and faculty and to smear supporters of boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) against Israel as anti-Semites.
In recent days, opponents of an event on BDS to be held on campus February 7th have attacked the organizers and scheduled speakers, internationally renowned philosopher Judith Butler and Palestinian human rights activist Omar Barghouti, as well as the political science department and university administration for co-sponsoring the event. This is just the latest in a series of incidents involving attempts to silence criticism of Israel at Brooklyn College.
Opponents of the February 7 event have made deeply offensive and inflammatory accusations against supporters of BDS, with State Assemblyman Alan Maisel going so far as to warn of “the potential for a second Holocaust here.” Other prominent critics include lawyer Alan Dershowitz, who has openly called for the United States and Israel to use torture, and State Assemblyman Dov Hikind, a follower of the late Meir Kahane, an Israeli-American rabbi whose racist Kach movement has been outlawed by the US and Israel as a terrorist organization for advocating the expulsion of Palestinians from Israel and the occupied territories and for carrying out violent terrorist attacks against Palestinians and others.
It is outrageous and perverse to conflate BDS proponents and our stance in support of equal rights and freedom for Palestinians with anti-Semitism and Nazism. Contrary to the claims of these detractors, the BDS movement is an inclusive, nonviolent, civil society-led campaign whose goal is to pressure Israel into respecting Palestinian human rights and abiding by international law, in the absence of action on the part of the US government and international community to do so. It is comprised of people of all faiths and backgrounds, including many Israeli and American Jews. Leaders of the BDS movement have always rejected and condemned any and all forms of racism and bigotry, including anti-Semitism. As SJP-BC’s mission statement says, we “reject any form of hatred or discrimination against any religious or ethnic group.”
As supporters of Palestinian rights and of academic freedom and free speech on campus, we commend Brooklyn College President Karen Gould for showing leadership and not succumbing to pressure from bullies like Dershowitz and Hikind, who seek to suppress criticism of Israel by smearing advocates of Palestinian freedom and equality as bigots.
For nearly 65 years, Palestinians have been dispossessed, colonized, and denied the most basic of human rights and freedoms by Israel. For more than 45 years, they have endured a brutal and illegal Israeli military occupation that becomes more entrenched each day. Today 66 to 69 percent of the 11.6 million Palestinians are refugees, the survivors and descendants of the approximately 750,000 Palestinians who were ethnically-cleansed during Israel’s creation in 1948, are prevented from exercising their internationally-recognized right of return to the land and homes they were expelled from simply because they are not Jewish, while those Palestinians who remained inside Israel after 1948, who make up about 20% of the population today, face widespread institutionalized discrimination and are treated as second- or third-class citizens. As the international community looks on and does nothing to hold Israel accountable for its actions, global civil society is taking the lead with BDS.
In light of the attacks, we pledge our continued support to SJP’s efforts to educate the public about Israel’s grave and systematic abuses of Palestinian human rights and the racist, apartheid regime Israel has instituted in the territories it controls between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.