A college forum on divestment in Israel scheduled for Thursday night has caused an uproar among some of the city's Jewish leaders. Mayor Michael Bloomberg weighed in on Wednesday. NY1's Courtney Gross filed the following report.
Several students at Brooklyn College have organized a forum Thursday night with speakers from the BDS movement, a movement advocating for boycotts, divestment and sanctions against Israel.
The event is co-sponsored by the college's political science department. That sponsorship has sparked outrage.
"You would like to bring your bigotry and hatred to a college campus? You are wrong, but it is your constitutional right," said Brooklyn Councilman David Greenfield. "However, it is not the right of these hate-filled events to be supported by publicly funded institutions."
Others have threatened to be less supportive of the school financially.
"For the last 11 years, Brooklyn College has come to me as a council member and asked me to fight for additional funding for Brooklyn College," said Brooklyn Councilman Lewis Fidler. "And I have simply said that I won't quite have the fire in the belly for that going forward if this is the way they are going to allow the political science department to endorse hate speech."
The students say they have every right to hold the conference.
"I don't feel that it's right for anyone to try to infringe upon that academic freedom that we have and that we hold so dearly," said
Now, they have the mayor on their side.
"I could also not agree more strongly with an academic department's right to sponsor a forum on any topic that they choose," said Mayor Michael Bloomberg. "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."
City Council Speaker Christine Quinn said she would not allow the college's funding to take a hit over this.
"You cannot tie funding for CUNY or any other academic institution that gets funding from the city, state or federal government to the positions they take or the programming they take," she said.
The event's organizers said they expect more than 200 people at Thursday night's forum. They said they also expect protests.