Bloomberg stands up for academic freedom — but ‘violently’ opposes (non-violent) BDS

New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg says he’s ‘violently’ opposed to Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel, while suggesting that people like Alan Dershowitz have as much respect for freedom as do the North Koreans. On balance, I’d say that’s a net plus.

That Bloomberg is opposed to BDS is hardly surprising, and that he claims to be ‘violently’ opposed is both hyperbolic and perhaps tinged with a conscious hint of irony. That he would liken Dershowitz and co. to the worst kind of authoritarians sounds to me like admirable fighting words.

Dana Rubinstein reports: “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,” said Mayor Michael Bloomberg this morning, siding with Brooklyn College in a debate over its decision to host an event featuring speakers from a pro-Palestinian group called Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions.

Brooklyn College’s descision to host a forum tomorrow featuring B.D.S. speakers has sparked protests from some members of the City Council and state legislature. Some, including Councilman Lew Fidler, have even threatened to withhold financial support from the college if it moves forward with the event.

Another, Assemblyman Alan Maisel, said, “We’re talking about the potential for a second Holocaust here.”

Today, Bloomberg called those arguments a threat to academic freedom, and from the standpoint of a supporter of Israel, counterproductive, too.

“I couldn’t disagree more violently with B.D.S., as they call it, Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions,” he said. “As you know I’m big supporter of Israel, as big a one as I think you can find in this city. But I also could not agree more strongly with an academic department’s right to sponsor a forum on any topic that they choose.”

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