The Anti-Defamation League says it is “deeply troubled” by the fact that two events at Brooklyn College this week featuring “unabashed haters of Israel” are co-sponsored by the institution’s political science and sociology departments.
“While we are strongly committed to the principles of academic freedom and free speech, we believe that official college sponsorship of a program featuring speakers who use vitriolic rhetoric to condemn Israel and who do not recognize the Jewish state’s right to exist is beyond the pale,” said Evan R. Bernstein, the ADL’s New York Regional Director.
“We are troubled by the political science and sociology departments’ willingness to co-sponsor these talks, which provides some measure of support to the views of the speakers,” Bernstein said.
The speaker on Wednesday night was Josh Ruebner and the speaker on Thursday will be Ben White.
Ruebner represents a group called the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, which recently made the ADL’s 2013 “Top Ten Anti-Israel Groups in America” list. Ruebner claims that the “Israel lobby” controls the U.S. government and he has legitimized Palestinian terrorism as a result of Israeli policy.
Ben White is a self proclaimed journalist who has defended former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s denials of the Holocaust and calls for Israel’s decimation, charged that Zionism is anti-democratic and has described Israel as an “apartheid state,” including within its pre-1967 borders – “an extreme position far outside legitimate criticism of Israel,” the Anti-Defamation League said in a statement.
Both White and Ruebner have also used Holocaust analogies to demonize Israel. In a November 2007 article, White alleged that Zionism is a “social-democratic experiment” and that Palestinians endured “death marches” at the hands of the Israeli government. He has claimed that Israel exploits the memory of the Holocaust in order to justify “oppression” of the Palestinian people, believing that it is justifiable “as long as it falls short of what was experienced by the Jews in Nazi Europe.”
ADL’s Bersntein said, “We also find it deeply offensive that the political science department saw fit to post on its website that it was ‘pleased’ to co-sponsor these events, thereby further legitimizing and giving a stamp of approval to extreme anti-Israel messages. These speakers have the right to hold – and express – their views, however academic departments at a respected institution such as Brooklyn College do not need to give them a platform and legitimacy.”