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Monday, April 22, 2013

Jewish students tossed at pro-Palestinian event at Brooklyn College demand apology

Three Jewish Brooklyn College students who were tossed from a controversial pro-Palestinian forum are demanding administrators apologize for kicking them out.

The students charge the City University of New York report issued earlier this month into the incident failed to investigate why the episode occurred and take action by punishing the students and college officials involved.

"One of the main things that troubled us is the lack of conclusion of why we were kicked out. All they do is speculate about it," said Ari Ziegler, 23, one of the students ejected from the Feb. 7 forum.

Shortly after the event, a college spokesman blamed the Jewish students for disrupting the event, a claim that was later debunked by audio and witnesses at the forum.

An internal report issued April 12 concluded that Ziegler, his brother, Michael, and friends Melanie Goldberg and Yvonne Juris were booted at the behest of the pro-Palestinian group hosting the event.

But their ousters weren't due to religious discrimination, according to the 36-page report.

Even though the four were all Jewish and two wore yarmulkes, "there is no support for an inference of discrimination based on religion," the investigators wrote, but addedthe students were unfairly removed.

The Ziegler brothers and Goldberg charge the report ignores discriminatory motives behind their booting.

"By issuing such a report, the university dodges the most critical issues surrounding the students' expulsion and shirks its responsibility both to the three students who were victimized and to the university community at large," the letter stated.

The students have retained attorney Jay Lefkowitz, who served in the George W. Bush administration. Asked about plans to take legal action, Ziegler responded, "no comment."

CUNY Chancellor Matthew Goldstein defended the review.

“The report concludes that there is no evidence of religious discrimination but that there is evidence from which a plausible inference can be drawn of viewpoint discrimination,” he said in a two page response.

From the outset, school officials didn't move fast enough to take control of the fraught event that showcased Omar Barghouti, one of the founders of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, as well as philosopher Judith Butler, according to the report.

Brooklyn College officials allowed Students for Justice in Palestine - the hosting group - to handle the master list of RVSPs, as well as set the press policy for the night, the report said.


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