By SALVATORE ROMANO
Brooklyn College was under fire again on Thursday as a group of pro-Israel activists including a City University of New York trustee and a civil rights lawyer demanded the college make policy changes after four Jewish students and a Jewish reporter for the Daily News were ejected from an anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions event co-sponsored by the political science department last week.
“To now see this type of degradation accepted is really heartbreaking ” said Jeffrey Wieseinfeld, the CUNY trustee and outspoken defender of Israel. “I really didn’t think—or perhaps I was naive in thinking that this wouldn’t reach City University the way it has.”
The affected students were told to leave the event, a pro-Palestine lecture, after handing leaflets with a list of questions for the speaker, to colleagues who had asked for them. Security allegedly told the group to leave after student Melanie Goldberg refused to give up the leaflets to a leader of the Students of Justice for Palestine, the main sponsor of the event.
Before announcing they would conduct a thorough investigation of the ejections, Brooklyn College officials initially denied wrongdoing, and said the students were being disruptive. However, audio tape obtained by a Jewish publication, the Algemeiner Journal, revealed otherwise.
“We listened through the recording very carefully and made an effort to pertain as to where exactly it was positioned in the room to ensure that it might not have been out of earshot from the important things that were going on,” said Dovid Efune, editor-in-chief of the paper.
“And what is clear from the tape is that there is very little audio disruption that takes place before the eviction of these students.”
Neal Sher, former executive director of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee and now a civil rights attorney, said that the college could be in violation of Title VI of Federal Law, which prevents discrimination by government agencies that receive federal funds.
“Jewish students are entitled to be protected from, and the university has an obligation, to eliminate any hostile environment which causes them to be fearful, to be intimidated, to be harassed, because of their religious background,” said Sher. “That is the law.”
Irene Alter of the National Council of Jewish Affairs called upon Brooklyn College president Karen Gould to take action.
“We believe there are questions about her responsibility that must be clarified,” said Alter. “We expect answers from Gould who seems either unwilling or unable to handle these campus events in a way that promotes a fair single standard, represents all student civil rights, and does not leave students and faculty feeling isolated, intimidated, and bullied.”
She added that “if appropriate, after receiving further information, we are prepared to call the Brooklyn College board of trustees to ask for Gould’s resignation.” Alter added that her organization is also investigating the roles of campus security, student affairs vice president Milga Morales, and the role of political science department chairman Paisley Currah.
Alter claims to have obtained a video tape of an earlier event at Brooklyn College where a pro-Israel speaker was interrupted “with clear disdain and disrespect for the speaker,” but no effort was made to correct the students who interrupted.
“Brooklyn College appears to have a double standard in dealing with these events,” she said. “Under whose authority is this being carried out?”
A Brooklyn College spokesman declined comment, referring this reporter to prior statements.