NYC Council Threatens to Withdraw $ if Poli Sci Doesn’t Withdraw Cosponsorship

We have the document. Lewis Fidler, Assistant Majority Leader of the NYC Council, and several other members of the City Council, write in a letter to Brooklyn College President Karen Gould that if the BDS event is not canceled—or the political science department’s co-sponsorship of it is not withdrawn—the City Council will withdraw its financial support from the College and/or CUNY. The letter is here.

An excerpt:

A significant portion of the funding for CUNY schools comes directly from the tax dollars of the people of the State and City of New York. Every year, we legislators are asked for additional funding to support programs and initiatives at these schools and we fight hard to secure those funds. Every one of those dollars given to CUNY, and Brooklyn College, means one less dollar going to some other worthy purpose. We do not believe this program is what the taxpayers of our City—many of who would feel targeted and demonized by this program—want their tax money to be spent on.

We believe in the principle of academic freedom. However, we also believe in the principle of not supporting schools whose programs we, and our constituents, find to be odious and wrong. So, should this event occur, we must strongly oppose it and ask you to reconsider any official support or sponsorship.


  1. Scott Preston February 3, 2013 at 5:50 pm | #

    We believe in the principle of academic freedom. However, we also believe in the principle of not supporting schools whose programs we, and our constituents, find to be odious and wrong.

    Precious. How to deny academic freedom without appearing to deny academic freedom. Perversity is self-contradiction. Self-contradiction is loss of integrity. Lip-service is the disease of self-contradiction… the disease of the reactionary.

    • bobsoper (@bobsoper) February 3, 2013 at 8:42 pm | #

      “We believe in the principle of academic freedom.”
      (We just don’t believe in its PRACTICE.)

  2. foppe February 3, 2013 at 6:46 pm | #

    How very Rortian.. “we feel our constituents would be made uncomfortable (=”targeted and demonized”)”, and since (per Rorty) public use of irony is not allowed, we feel we must forbid this, as it is inappropriate to confront people with themselves.

    • A Bettinger February 4, 2013 at 12:26 pm | #

      What an odd invocation of Rorty. I can guarantee you Rorty would have supported the BDS event without hestitation.

  3. Pedinska February 3, 2013 at 6:56 pm | #

    Looks to me like the NYC Council has just stepped into the middle of a potential First Amendment lawsuit (should BC choose to respond in kind).

  4. BillR February 3, 2013 at 7:47 pm | #

    Someone whose academic career was destroyed on Academic Freedom. Nice example Dershowitz and his fellow thugs made of the scholar whose books have been translated into 20 languages yet who whiles his days on the boardwalk near his apartment without health insurance these days. Beats being sent to a psychiatric ward under a dictatorship, I suppose.

  5. Jane February 3, 2013 at 7:54 pm | #

    I don’t understand how this actually amounts to a threat from the City Council. This is just a minority group of council members, isn’t it? It’s offensive, but it’s not actually a plausible threat to withdraw funding – is it?

  6. neffer February 4, 2013 at 12:09 am | #

    I believe in the right of political debate. But, sponsoring an event amounts to an endorsement. And BDS is, basically, a hate group, not merely a group critical of Israel or its policies. So, in effect, political science department is endorsing a hate group. That is pretty pathetic.

    If BSD or the Nazi party or some other hate group want to talk at a college, that is ok. If the school is going to use tax dollars in a manner that supports a hate group, that is not ok. And, the difference is critically important.

    I would think there is a law suit against the college by Jewish students who are majoring in political science for the creation of a hostile environment. In any event, it is incredibly cruel of the political science department to create an environment where Jews will feel uncomfortable attending class where they will, almost surely, feel compelled to watch what they say for fear that they will be judged ill by an Antsemite.

  7. Jaime February 4, 2013 at 11:29 am | #

    “we also believe in the principle of not supporting schools whose programs we, and our constituents, find to be odious and wrong.” PERFECT! The funding authorities know exactly what their dealing with, let’s hope that other institutions will be guided by their decision not to frauds, racist, antisemites or terrorists.

  8. A Bettinger February 4, 2013 at 12:39 pm | #

    The only argument I’ve heard from those urging the event be cancelled is that BDS is a “hate group,” more or less akin to nazis. Is there ANY evidence to support this allegation?

    • Earth February 4, 2013 at 2:30 pm | #


    • neffer February 4, 2013 at 3:04 pm | #


      First, BDS favors the dismantling of the Jewish state, not merely its ceding of territory to form a Palestinian Arab state. Do you know any other state that anyone favors dismantling, even if the state is involved itself in hateful things? Does anyone favor dismantling Germany because not so long ago, it started a war that cost 60 million people their lives? Of course not. Today, we have China actually destroying Tibetan society entirely, not merely settling people in Tibet. There is not even a serious outcry much less a movement to boycott. In fact, the leader of the Tibetans is pro-Israel.

      Of course, it can be said that we must pick and choose our evils. Is it not strange, though, that (a) the evil chosen by our glorious BDS’ers just happens to be the main cause of the Jewish people and (b) involves far less odious activity than things that other countries do? Jews just happen to be the pick this month, eh? It is like a group saying, we mean to improve standards in society by challenging the status of Blacks in society. No intent there, they say, to harm Blacks. None at all. We just want to improve standards. BS.

      Second, there is the tactics of BDS. They engage in the type of nastiness that hate groups employ. Group members are known to use the same allegations about Israel and its people that have, for centuries and centuries, been used against Jews. One needs to go to their events just to see the mock checkpoints and the portrayal of Jews as vicious animals – akin to how Jews have been portrayed over the generations.

      • Scott Preston February 4, 2013 at 7:22 pm | #

        Does anyone favor dismantling Germany because not so long ago, it started a war that cost 60 million people their lives? Of course not.

        How very ironic, since I’m presently studying the movement during the 30s to boycott the Nazi state because of its treatment of the Jews. The same accusations against the boycott movement were made by the fascists — invidious hatred of Germans; an existential threat in the attempt to dismantle and force a breakup the German state; the hand of “international Jewry” behind it, etc, etc.

        ‘Fraid you’re gonna have to better than that.

      • Scott Preston February 4, 2013 at 7:35 pm | #

        I might add to the last comment — what a strange looking-glass world and house of mirrors we live in, just realising this from my study of Nazi documents. The Jew looked into the eyes of the Nazi and saw himself reflected there as victim, while the Nazi stared into the eyes of the Jew and saw himself reflected there…. also as victim.

        And they all cultivated the habits of victimage.

  9. Leland Olds February 4, 2013 at 10:36 pm | #

    Technical point: I thought that CUNY senior colleges (like Brooklyn) are funded at the state level, not at the city level, and that the city only funds the community colleges in the CUNY system. I think it’s all posturing. To really cut funding they would have to deal with the state.

    • neffer February 5, 2013 at 1:23 am | #

      Scott Preston,

      Churchill, in The Gathering Storm places some of the blame for WWII on not breaking Germany up after WWI. Be that as it may, Germany was broken up after WWII. But I have never heard the argument that Germany had no right to exist in some geography, notwithstanding all they did during WWII.

      I do not see your point addressing what I wrote at all. This Is not a victimhood issue. It is a question of what makes a state illegitimate. Clearly plunging the world into a war that kills 60 million people, turning the conquered into slaves and trying to wipe out the Jews and GypsIes are not enough. If that does not qualify, nothing does.

      • Scott Preston February 5, 2013 at 10:02 pm | #

        That’s not really the issue. There are elements of Zionist which are gleaned from fascism. But in the broader sense, we are talking about the perversities of radical nationalism, and all radical nationalist movements share certain characteristics and behaviours in common, despite their anxieties to try and distinguish themselves from each other — the “us versus them” mentality which denies universality or integrality (integrality or holism being the superior or higher conception of the meaning of “universality”). Radical nationalism is the narcissism of the ethnos — what the Buddhist sociologist David Loy called “the Wego”.

        The “levels” of human narcissism are merely described in terms like “ego-centric”, “ideocentric” (ideology), “logocentric”, “ethnocentric” or “anthropocentric”. Just so many technical terms for one chronic psychic condition of human beings — narcissism (previously called “idolatry” before the Myth of Narcissus and Echo was discovered).

        Whether we call it “fascism” or whether we call it “Zionism” the root is the same root — the “Wego” that leads to the fanaticism, paranoia, and distortions of radical nationalism.

Comments are closed.