There is some dark irony that New York city council officials are threatening to defund Brooklyn College over a proposed panel featuring world renowned philosopher Judith Butler on the BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) campaign. After all, Butler herself has written so persuasively about the dangers of silencing academic debate over Israeli policy and the harm done by conflating criticism of the Israeli government with anti-semitism.
The background to the current controversy is this: A student group at CUNY’s Brooklyn College, Students for Justice in Palestine, is this week hosting two speakers who will discuss their views on the BDS movement, which calls for boycott, divestment, and sanctions against Israel in protest of the government’s oppressive policies towards the Palestinian people. The speakers are Palestinian BDS advocate Omar Barghouti and University of California Berkeley philosopher and BDS supporter, Judith Butler. The event is being co-sponsored by numerous student and community groups, as well as Brooklyns College’s Political Science department.