February 5, 2013, 3:31 pm
Last month the political-science department at Brooklyn College, which I chair, was asked to either cosponsor or endorse a panel discussion on the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement organized by a student group, Students for Justice in Palestine. We decided to cosponsor the event, which is to take place on Thursday and to feature the philosopher Judith Butler and the Palestinian-rights activist Omar Barghouti. The BDS movement advocates using nonviolent means to pressure Israel to withdraw from Palestinian territories.
Our decision landed us in a firestorm. My department and the college president, Karen Gould, have become the targets of a campaign to force the political-science department to rescind its cosponsorship. The usual suspects—New York State Assemblyman Dov Hikind, the Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz—piled on, and the rhetoric escalated. “We’re…