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New York - Bloomberg Defends Pro-Palestinian Group's Right To Free Speech

Published on: February 6, 2013 04:52 PM
Last updated on: February 6, 2013 06:53 PM
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FILE - Press Conference held Jan. 31 2013, by Brooklyn Assemblyman Dov Hikind denouncing Brooklyn College for co-sponsoring racist lectures. Photography by Stefano Giovannini/VINNewsFILE - Press Conference held Jan. 31 2013, by Brooklyn Assemblyman Dov Hikind denouncing Brooklyn College for co-sponsoring racist lectures. Photography by Stefano Giovannini/VINNews

New York - In a heated statement made to reporters at City Hall Wednesday, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg voiced his support for an anti-Israel group’s right to stage a planned event at Brooklyn College, despite staunch opposition from many elected officials.

According to the Daily News, (http://nydn.us/XoPyNL) Bloomberg criticized opponents of the event, saying that by turning the gathering into a controversy, they were only popularizing the event and further championed the group’s constitutional right to free speech.

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“If you want to go to a university where the government decides what kinds of subjects are fit for discussion, I suggest you apply to a school in North Korea,” Bloomberg told reporters.

Bloomberg went on to voice his staunch support for Israel saying, “I couldn’t disagree more violently with BDS, as they call it – Boycott Divestment and Sanctions. As you know, I’m a big supporter of Israel, as big of one as I think you can find in the city. But I could also not agree more strongly with an academic department’s right to sponsor a forum on any topic that they chose.”

As previously reported on VIN News, the event, featuring speakers from Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions whose mission is to use non-violent punitive measure against Israel to further Palestinian causes,  was co-sponsored by the college, sparking the anger of many.  While college president Karen Gould has officially announced that she does not share the group’s views she supports its right to speak at the school.

Assemblyman Dov Hikind expressed frustration with Mayor Bloomberg and questioned the origins of tomorrow’s event.

“I spoke with Karen Gould last Tuesday who explained to me that the political science department had voted to support this event,” Hikind told VIN News. “I asked her what the vote was, how many people were at the meeting to vote and she told me she had no clue. No one at the college seems to know what happened at that meeting and I do know that there were professors in the political science department who didn’t know anything at all about the meeting or the vote.”

A planned Borough Hall meeting this morning with elected officials to discuss tomorrow’s gathering was cancelled last night when the professor who spearheaded the event backed out, claiming exhaustion.

At the center of the controversy is Professor Paisley Currah, chairman of the political science department, who was invited to speak with elected officials about the upcoming event.

“I was very excited about this meeting,” explained Hikind. “I was finally getting a chance to ask questions about that vote, to have a real dialogue and then the professor cancels the event.  The head of the department is afraid to show up and have an honest discussion?

Hikind and lawyer Alan Dershowitz, both former political science students at the college, have made numerous unsuccessful attempts to contact Professor Currah, according to Hikind.

Attempts by VIN News to reach Professor Currah by both phone and email have also yielded no response.

Meanwhile, A press release was issued today by Congressman Jerrold Nadler and Councilman Brad Lander and numerous elected officials thanking college president Gould for her actions on the matter, praising her for upholding the right to free speech at the city college while making it clear that the college does not endorse the event, issuing a letter to the Brooklyn College Hillel stating the college does not endorse BDS and values its relationship with Israel and Israeli universities, asking the political science department to clearly define in writing its criteria for co-sponsoring student events and planning additional events, showcasing other viewpoints, to Brooklyn College.

Other local politicians who signed on the letter were Speaker Christine Quinn, Comptroller John Liu, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, Borough President Marty Markowitz, Congresswoman Yvette Clarke, Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez, Congressman Hakeem Jeffries, Senator Kevin Parker, Senator Daniel Squadron, Assemblywoman Rhoda Jacobs, Assemblyman Karim Camara, Assemblywoman Joan Millman, Assemblyman Walter Mosley, Councilwoman Tish James and Councilman Steve Levin.


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Read Comments (26)  —  Post Yours »

1

 Feb 06, 2013 at 05:02 PM OPTIMIST Says:

this guy should just shmod zich. He is the biggest self hater in a long time.

2

 Feb 06, 2013 at 05:04 PM ItsMyOpinion Says:

Do any of these elected officials who signed the letter know what the word "support" means? The reaction to this event is exactly what the planners wanted: lots of publicity. Brooklyn College should not be supporting this. It would still be "free speech" if the event was sponsored by a student group and not the political science department.

3

 Feb 06, 2013 at 05:21 PM Reb Yid Says:

Like most assimilated Jews, he worships what he considers American values, like democracy and freedom, more than what's right and good.

4

 Feb 06, 2013 at 05:24 PM Anonymous Says:

I happen to agree with Bloomberg. Us orthodox Jews, as well as many other peoples, do this all the time. By protesting we just draw more attention.

5

 Feb 06, 2013 at 05:49 PM Smokey Says:

Why not contact Mayor Bloomberg via email and tell him how you feel (like I just did)? Just stick "contact Mayor Bloomberg" into Google and you're right there..

6

 Feb 06, 2013 at 05:49 PM Aryeh Says:

Something tells me that a KKK rally at Brooklyn college would not be met with the same level of "intellectual open-mindedness"

7

 Feb 06, 2013 at 06:00 PM New Yorker Says:

Shame shame Blumberg!

8

 Feb 06, 2013 at 06:07 PM Bezalel Says:

Prof. Paisley Currah's specialty relates to gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender advocacy. He should be asked how the human rights for gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender people in Israel vs in the Arab and Muslim world.

9

 Feb 06, 2013 at 06:08 PM Liepa Says:

That's one of the many reasons Bloomberg, we can't wait for you to leave office.
You always stick for everyone except Jews.

Hate to see you go or hate to see you, GO (already)!

10

 Feb 06, 2013 at 06:21 PM Liepa Says:

Reply to #4  
Anonymous Says:

I happen to agree with Bloomberg. Us orthodox Jews, as well as many other peoples, do this all the time. By protesting we just draw more attention.

If it were another group, say the KKK at Brooklyn College and people of color would be upset and protest we probably wouldn't hear a squeak out of you. It's only when 'Us orthodox Jews' protest that you can't handle it and start vomiting.

11

 Feb 06, 2013 at 06:29 PM Anonymous Says:

free speech?
what about free to drink what we want?

12

 Feb 06, 2013 at 06:52 PM Anonymous Says:

Did you expect him to say anything else?

13

 Feb 06, 2013 at 06:53 PM Pereles Says:

wouldn't it be great if people just stayed away?

14

 Feb 06, 2013 at 06:57 PM Chill Says:

He's sucha open minded person that he's brains fell out!

15

 Feb 06, 2013 at 07:04 PM bennyt Says:

What do you expect from a liberal secular Jew who supported the gay marriage bill in New York City?

16

 Feb 06, 2013 at 07:08 PM Butterfly Says:

If there is a riot, there will not be any police. Bloomberg took them away. He gave us meter maidens!!

17

 Feb 06, 2013 at 07:08 PM victorg Says:

They can speak as long as they don't drink large sized soft drinks

18

 Feb 06, 2013 at 07:49 PM Anonymous Says:

Let the Israel hating speakers just utter a single word against blacks or gays, and we'll see what happens to their "support". I am appalled beyond belief at the chutzpah shown by Congressman Nadler in entering into this issue altogether. He is fully aware that these types of speeches are not really covered by the right to free speech. They are simple incitement to violence, to attack Jews anywhere, including Brooklyn. May all supporters receive their Heavenly consequences for all of us to witness.

19

 Feb 06, 2013 at 09:45 PM bored Says:

I think all the Jewish students enrolled there should stage their own protest and not buy food or in the cafeteria until the administration apologizes.

20

 Feb 06, 2013 at 09:53 PM Anonymous Says:

Perhaps another person at the college could sponsor a protest entitled "Y we support shooting Arabs" and see if Bloomberg supports this form of free speech.

Also I like my 20 oz sodas

21

 Feb 06, 2013 at 10:01 PM Judith Says:

Reply to #19  
bored Says:

I think all the Jewish students enrolled there should stage their own protest and not buy food or in the cafeteria until the administration apologizes.

Why hurt the private vendor? I think the poli sci department should be boycotted. All poli sci majors should avoid those courses and change their majors. A few laid off professors might cause the dept to change their tune.

22

 Feb 06, 2013 at 11:08 PM Sha1om Says:

Reply to #21  
Judith Says:

Why hurt the private vendor? I think the poli sci department should be boycotted. All poli sci majors should avoid those courses and change their majors. A few laid off professors might cause the dept to change their tune.

Unfortunately you can't boycott the political science department at BC; one of the core curriculum courses, required to be taken by all students who intend to graduate (People, Power and Politics) is taught cooperatively by the Poly-Sci and Sociology departments. However, it is, or was when I was there in the early 90s, possible to select a section that was given by a Soc. professor rather than a Poli.Sci. professor.

I remember that course, not fondly. The professor's thesis was that it is not possible for a minority to be racist, because racism, by her definition, is always and only directed by the majority against the minority. Attempts to refute this by pointing out racist African-Americans (Sharpton, Maddox, Mason & Co were at the peak of their obnoxiousness at the time) were met with the statement that they might be prejudiced, but they couldn't be racist, oh no. It got to the point where I just wrote down whatever she said, regurgitated it back onto the exam sheets, and walked away from that waste of my time with an A.

23

 Feb 07, 2013 at 12:19 AM Anti Tziony Says:

I usually don' like bloomberg, but on this one he is gevaldig! Mr, Bloomberg schorcho harba meoid

24

 Feb 07, 2013 at 12:39 PM Butterfly Says:

I think that he indirectly has to support this. Bloomberg has huge investments
in the arab countries!! He has to back them!!

25

 Feb 07, 2013 at 06:44 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #19  
bored Says:

I think all the Jewish students enrolled there should stage their own protest and not buy food or in the cafeteria until the administration apologizes.

The student body has changed and Arabs and Asians are probably in the majority now. That is why this is happening there now. Not enough Jews in the student body to stage a protest. But why does the Political Science Dept. have to be a part of this anyway? The speakers are not against any and all means of harming Israel, and they do not denounce terror in lieu of this. They add this to it. This is definitely a matter of free speech, it is a matter of spreading hate and justifying it, and it does not have any place at any university. Bloomberg is wrong. DEAD WRONG. Nazis had PHDs plan everything. Smart and moral are not the same. Bloomberg has a gentile girlfriend, and that sums up his feeling about being Jewish. To him it does not matter enough, or at all.

26

 Feb 07, 2013 at 06:54 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #22  
Sha1om Says:

Unfortunately you can't boycott the political science department at BC; one of the core curriculum courses, required to be taken by all students who intend to graduate (People, Power and Politics) is taught cooperatively by the Poly-Sci and Sociology departments. However, it is, or was when I was there in the early 90s, possible to select a section that was given by a Soc. professor rather than a Poli.Sci. professor.

I remember that course, not fondly. The professor's thesis was that it is not possible for a minority to be racist, because racism, by her definition, is always and only directed by the majority against the minority. Attempts to refute this by pointing out racist African-Americans (Sharpton, Maddox, Mason & Co were at the peak of their obnoxiousness at the time) were met with the statement that they might be prejudiced, but they couldn't be racist, oh no. It got to the point where I just wrote down whatever she said, regurgitated it back onto the exam sheets, and walked away from that waste of my time with an A.

There are even self hating Jews.
Those who incorporate the beliefs of a majority who hates them.
Words of hate are never free. They are costly to a society.
The point of college is to become an independent thinker, not a regurgitator, and a Professor who has a closed mind to others' thoughts is not one who teaches rather is incoctrinating her students.
getting an A is not everything.

27

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