I am very concerned about Brooklyn College’s decision to sponsor Ali Abunimah of Electronic Intifada to speak this Thursday in honor of Israel Apartheid Week. I have posted to this open letter to my website and shared with as many people as I think will listen.
Dear President Gould:
I’m sure by now you are aware of the event on Thursday March 6 at SUBO Bedford Lounge where Students for Justice in Palestine have scheduled notorious anti-Zionist blogger Ali Abunimah to speak. This event coincides with the observance of Israel Apartheid Week, an international event that is billed as protesting Israel but often leads to the harassment of Jews in general. I understand it is the school’s interest and duty as a public institution to permit all types of speech. However, it is not in anyone’s interest for the school to permit incitement, and it certainly should not be contributing money to this end.
Ali Abunimah is a blogger for the website Electronic Intifada, a name that already betrays the purportedly peaceful intentions of his visit. However, his activities go well beyond voicing a disagreeable opinion. Mr. Abunimah’s internet activities range from possible incitement to outright misrepresenting the words of those who disagree with him. Worse than that, Mr. Abunimah was recently involved with the cyberbullying of a Jewish studentat University of Michigan while she was in the process organizing a meeting in order to respond to intimidation stemming from the UMich Mock Eviction. I cannot speak on behalf of the administration or faculty, but as a parent and educator I would be appalled to know that my tuition dollars were going to finance this speaker’s presence.
Ultimately, it is the administration’s decision whether to allow this speaker. However, it is inappropriate for departments of the school itself to actually sponsor the event. I understand that there have been tensions with the Jewish community in the past, and I hope that this incident will not strain them further. I urge the administration to make the ethical decision.
Thank you for your attention to this matter.