Open Zion


My Issues With BDS Panel Co-Sponsorship

Amy Schiller, in her article, "NYC Politicos Rally Against Brooklyn College BDS Panel," quotes an anonymous professor saying that the political science department sponsored "Alan Dershowitz's 2008 Konefsky lecture where he defended torture, where there has been no one presenting the other side." That short sentence contains two lies: 1) I gave the Konefksy lecture approximately 40 years ago in which I spoke about Professor Konefsky and the United States Supreme Court. It was an entirely academic lecture. 2) I have never defended torture. Indeed, I have repeatedly condemned it. What I have proposed is a method for making those who do engage in torture accountable to the law.

In addition to these two specific lies which have been repeated over and over again in other media, the article associates me with those NYC Politicos who have been trying to ban the BDS event. I have made it crystal clear that I want the event to go forward and would be opposed to any effort to ban it. What concerns me is the fact that the political science department was prepared to cosponsor, and in the words of the advertising poster, "endorse" a pro-BDS event, while I believe it would not be prepared to cosponsor and endorse an anti-BDS event. If that is the case, it means the department has taken sides on this issue and has come out in favor of BDS. (By the way, the political science department of Brooklyn College has also claimed that an anti-BDS talk that I gave at the University of Pennsylvania was cosponsored by the political science department there. When I agreed to give that talk, I was told that the event was being sponsored by Hillel alone. I was not and am not aware that it was also sponsored by a department. Had I been aware, I would have opposed such co-sponsorship, since I do not believe that academic departments should take official positions on issues of this kind.)

Finally, Schiller implies that his political science department would pass my "shoe on the other foot test" and that if Brooklyn College Hillel were to sponsor an anti-BDS talk by me, the political science department would cosponsor that event as well. I doubt it, but let's wait and see, and let's see if the vote is as one-sided as it was to support the BDS event. Moreover, I am not a good test on this issue because I support the two-state solution and oppose Israeli settlement policy. Would the political science department cosponsor an event advocating a position as extreme on the right as BDS is on the left: namely, a pro-settler, anti-Palestinian state extremist? I think my "shoe on the other foot test" is causing blisters among many in the political science department of Brooklyn College.