Brooklyn College in New York is going ahead with a conference highlighting the importance of an academic and economic boycott of Israel despite intense pressure from US Jewish organisations and individuals. The college, part of the City University of New York, is insisting on the need to uphold academic freedom of speech.
“We cannot cancel it because we are an academic institution that maintains the freedom of expression for students and academic staff,” said college president Karen Gould.
According to Maariv newspaper, protest activities in American universities against Israel are not exclusive to students supporting Palestinian issues; university administrations take part in such conferences by subsidising them, it claims.
Activists for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign, Omar al-Barghouti and Judith Battler, are speaking at the conference. Leading pro-Israel advocate Alan Dershowitz has, typically, described the event as a “hate conference”. Dershowitz was once described by ex-US President Jimmy Carter as “someone, in my opinion, who knows nothing about the situation in Palestine”.