The Self-Appointed Policemen Of The Israel Debate

Glenn Greenwald is alarmed that Brooklyn College’s Political Science department is taking flack for sponsoring “an event, scheduled for 7 February, featuring two advocates of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS).” How Greenwald sees the foofaraw:

Manifestly, this controversy has nothing whatsoever to do with objecting to one-sided academic events sponsored by academic institutions. Such events occur constantly without anyone uttering a peep of protest. This has to do with one thing and one thing only: trying to create specially oppressive rules that govern only critics of Israel and criticisms of that nation’s government. As Lemieux put it: “So, apparently, colleges have a moral obligation to have ‘balanced’ panels . . . in cases where the speakers might disagree with Alan Dershowitz.”

In a follow-up post, Greenwald grows ever-more concerned:

The threat to academic freedom posed by this growing lynch mob is obvious: if universities are permitted to hold only those events which do not offend state officials and “pro-Israel” fanatics such as Alan Dershowitz, then “academic freedom” is illusory. But on Sunday, that threat significantly intensified, as a ranking member of the New York City Council explicitly threatened to cut off funding for the college if his extortionate demands regarding this event are not met.

Scott Lemieux’s perspective:

No sponsorship implies anything like a complete endorsement, and this is so obvious the arguments to the contrary are plainly being offered in bad faith. If Brooklyn College were to deny a similar panel to critics of BDS there would be ample reason for criticism, but there’s no evidence whatsoever that this is the case.

(Above: an interview with Omar Barghouti, one of the academics scheduled to speak at Brooklyn College)