J Street Students Reject Attempts to Curb Free Speech on Brooklyn Campus

February 6, 2013

As the National Student Board of J Street U, the student arm of J Street’s pro-Israel pro-peace movement, we reject attempts made by some elected officials and communal leaders to intimidate Judith Butler and Omar Bargouthi from speaking on the campus of Brooklyn College.

While we disagree strongly with the aims and tactics of the BDS movement, our commitment to a safe and secure Israel goes hand-in-hand with a commitment to open debate and free discussion on contentious issues. Attempts to stifle free discussion on college campuses does a disservice to us and our peers, who are eager to hear a wide range of perspectives on this conflict. The college campus must continue to be a space for the free exchange of ideas. Our support for Israel never necessitates academic censorship. In fact, it requires the opposite. We call upon our peers on campuses across the country to speak up for their right to hear perspectives on Israel regardless of the presenters’ political orientations.

With the election of a new Israeli Knesset, the appointment of John Kerry as Secretary of State, and the announcement of a trip to Israel by President Obama, we are hopeful that strong American leadership can help guide the parties towards a two-state solution. Now, more than ever, our elected officials and communal leaders should prioritize what is most important: achieving a peaceful resolution for the Israelis and Palestinians who continue to suffer from the ongoing conflict.