Report: Brooklyn College did not engage in religious discrimination

NEW YORK (JTA) — Brooklyn College did not engage in religious discrimination in its handling of an event critical of Israel, a report concluded. 

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The report, prepared by the City University of New York’s general counsel and an outside lawyer, said the college had erred in removing four students for allegedly disturbing a panel discussion about divesting from Israel, The New York Jewish Week reported. But it cleared the school of charges that it had removed the four students because they were Jewish. 

“It is clear that there was no justification for the removal of the four students,” the report said. But given that other Jewish students attended the event without incident, the report concluded that “there is no support for an inference of discrimination.” More likely, the report said, “the removal of the four students was motivated by their political viewpoint.”

Karen Gould, the college president, apologized Tuesday to the four students and pledged to implement new procedures for public events. 

Brooklyn College drew passionate critics and defenders with its decision to host a discussion in February featuring two proponents of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, or BDS, which calls for economic pressure to be exerted on Israel over its treatment of the Palestinians.

Four Jewish students were ejected for allegedly disrupting the event, leading to charges that the school had discriminated against them on the basis of their religion. 

While the report cleared the school of that charge, it was criticized as a “whitewash” by Lewis Fidler, the local city councilman, and by Howard Wohl, the president of the college’s Hillel chapter, who charged that the decision to release the report late on a Friday indicated the school only wanted to sweep the issue under the carpet. 

“It is sad that CUNY has chosen to circle the wagons and protect its legal positions rather than to own up to its failures and dedicate itself to reform,” Wohl told The Jewish Week. 

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