[Marxism] Bloomberg Defends College’s Right to Sponsor Israel-Boycott Talk

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Wed Feb 6 12:55:55 MST 2013

NY Times February 6, 2013
Bloomberg Defends College’s Right to Sponsor Israel-Boycott Talk

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg on Wednesday forcefully defended the right of 
Brooklyn College to co-sponsor an event with an international group that 
advocates Israel’s withdrawal from Palestinian territories, weighing in 
for the first time in a debate that has pitted New York City and state 
legislators, the Anti-Defamation League and prominent alumni like Alan 
Dershowitz against the school.

Describing himself as a “big supporter of Israel,” Mr. Bloomberg said he 
“couldn’t disagree more violently” with the movement behind the event, 
known as B.D.S., for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions. But Mr. 
Bloomberg said a university should be free to sponsor a forum on any 
topic, “including ideas that people find repugnant.”

“If you want to go to a university where the government decides what 
kind of subjects are fit for discussion, I suggest you apply to a school 
in North Korea,” Mr. Bloomberg said during a news conference at City Hall.

“The last thing we need is for members of our City Council or State 
Legislature to be micromanaging the kinds of programs that our public 
universities run and base funding decisions on the political views of 
professors,” he continued. “I can’t think of anything that would be more 
destructive to a university and its students.”

The Brooklyn College event, which is scheduled to take place on 
Thursday, is being co-sponsored by the college’s political science 
department, as well as several student and nonstudent groups, and will 
feature two speakers from the B.D.S. movement, Judith Butler, a 
philosopher, and Omar Barghouti.

On Jan. 29, 10 members of the City Council, led by Lewis A. Fidler of 
Brooklyn, signed a letter to Brooklyn College’s president, Karen Gould, 
demanding either that the event be canceled or that the university 
revoke its sponsorship. The letter also suggested that, if the 
university went ahead with the event, the Council might withhold funding 
to the school in the future.

Mr. Bloomberg said New York City was a city defined by its commitment to 
personal liberty.

“This is a city that loves and protects freedom -- academic freedom, 
religious freedom, sexual freedom, cultural freedom, political freedom,” 
the mayor said. “We are the freest city in the world and that’s why 
we’re the greatest city in the world.”

He said politicians had a right to protest the event, but he said their 
fulminations were counterproductive.

“What the protesters have done is given a lot of attention to the very 
idea they keep saying they don’t want people to talk about,” Mr. 
Bloomberg said. “They just don’t think before they open their mouths.”

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