Mayor Bloomberg Backs Brooklyn College in Flap Over Boycott Israel Panel

'Go to North Korea' to Escape Disputes, Mayor Tells Critics

‘Go to North Korea’** Mayor Bloomberg sharply criticized lawmakers who called for a cut-off of funds to Brooklyn College in a dispute over a Boycott Israel event at the campus.
getty images
‘Go to North Korea’** Mayor Bloomberg sharply criticized lawmakers who called for a cut-off of funds to Brooklyn College in a dispute over a Boycott Israel event at the campus.

By Josh Nathan-Kazis

Published February 06, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share

New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg harshly criticized city officials who had called on Brooklyn College’s political science department to drop their sponsorship of a pro-BDS panel at a press conference today.

Stipulating that he “couldn’t disagree more violently” with the movement that seeks to impose boycott, divestment and sanctions on Israel, Bloomberg said he believed an academic department should be allowed to sponsor any sort of panel it liked.

“If you want to go to a university where the government decides what kind of subjects are fit for discussion, I suggest you apply to a school in North Korea,” Bloomberg said.

The panel, featuring two prominent supporters of the BDS movement, is scheduled to take place on February 6. It’s drawn criticism from Jewish activists and from public officials.

Bloomberg’s statement amounted to a stark rejection of a handful of efforts by New York elected officials to pressure Brooklyn College’s political science department to drop its support of the panel. On January 29, New York City Council members Lew Fidler and David Greenfield, among others, sent a letter to Brooklyn College implicitly threatening the school’s public funding. Later, progressive Democrats sent a January 31 letter that also asked the political science department to drop the panel in far milder terms. Signatories to that letter included Congressman Jerry Nadler, Congressman Hakeem Jeffries, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Comptroller John Liu, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, and others.

At today’s press conference, Bloomberg specifically dressed down the elected officials for their interference. “The last thing we need is for members of our City Council or State Legislature to be micromanaging the kinds of programs that our public universities run and base funding decisions on the political views of professors,” the mayor said.

Critics of the officials’ push against the panel saw Bloomberg’s comments as a major win. “That’s a very strong endorsement of my department’s position,” wrote Corey Robin, a professor in the Brooklyn College political science department, in a blog post about the speech.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Vered Guttman doesn't usually get nervous about cooking for 20 people, even for Passover. But last night was a bit different. She was cooking for the Obamas at the White House Seder.
  • A grumpy Jewish grandfather is wary of his granddaughter's celebrating Easter with the in-laws. But the Seesaw says it might just make her appreciate Judaism more. What do you think?
  • “Twist and Shout.” “Under the Boardwalk.” “Brown-Eyed Girl.” What do these great songs have in common? A forgotten Jewish songwriter. We tracked him down.
  • What can we learn from tragedies like the rampage in suburban Kansas City? For one thing, we must keep our eyes on the real threats that we as Jews face.
  • When is a legume not necessarily a legume? Philologos has the answer.
  • "Sometime in my childhood, I realized that the Exodus wasn’t as remote or as faceless as I thought it was, because I knew a former slave. His name was Hersh Nemes, and he was my grandfather." Share this moving Passover essay!
  • Getting ready for Seder? Chag Sameach! http://jd.fo/q3LO2
  • "We are not so far removed from the tragedies of the past, and as Jews sit down to the Seder meal, this event is a teachable moment of how the hatred of Jews-as-Other is still alive and well. It is not realistic to be complacent."
  • Aperitif Cocktail, Tequila Shot, Tom Collins or Vodka Soda — Which son do you relate to?
  • Elvis craved bacon on tour. Michael Jackson craved matzo ball soup. We've got the recipe.
  • This is the face of hatred.
  • What could be wrong with a bunch of guys kicking back with a steak and a couple of beers and talking about the Seder? Try everything. #ManSeder
  • BREAKING: Smirking killer singled out Jews for death in suburban Kansas City rampage. 3 die in bloody rampage at JCC and retirement home.
  • Real exodus? For Mimi Minsky, it's screaming kids and demanding hubby on way down to Miami, not matzo in the desert.
  • The real heroines of Passover prep aren't even Jewish. But the holiday couldn't happen without them.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.