A report commissioned by Brooklyn College has cleared organizers of the controversial forum on the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement held in February at Brooklyn College of charges that they discriminated against Jews in admitting people to the event.
The report faulted the pro-BDS organizers, however, for kicking out four attendees, suggesting that they were removed because of their pro-Israel political viewpoints.
The Brooklyn College event drew massive controversy early this year, with elected officials criticizing the school for allowing it be held in their space. Other officials, including Mayor Michael Bloomberg, defended the school. The event was sponsored by the local chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine, Jewish Voice for Peace, and Brooklyn College’s political science department.
In the aftermath of the event, a handful of Jewish outlets reported that some Jewish students had been barred from the event and others had been kicked out while the event was in session. In response, Brooklyn College commissioned an independent investigation conducted by an outside law firm.
That investigation resulted in a lengthy report, issued February 12. The report, based on interviews with participants and observers, found that organizers did not bar people from attending the event based on their religion or political beliefs, and that news organizations were not barred because of their perceived political beliefs.
The investigation did find that four Jewish students were improperly removed from the room during the panel. “It is clear that there was no justification for the removal of the four students,” the report reads. “In our view, there is no support for an inference of discrimination based on religion…A more plausible inference can be drawn that the removal of the four students was motivated by their political viewpoint.”
The report further condemns Brooklyn College for its handling of the event, saying that the administration should have taken a larger role in security at the forum.
Josh Nathan-Kazis is a staff writer for the Forward. He covers charities and politics, and writes investigations and longform.