Pink Floyd's Roger Waters backs Brooklyn College Israel boycott event

By Jennifer Lipman, February 5, 2013

Roger Waters, the Pink Floyd lead singer, has waded into a row about a boycott of Israel at a college in Brooklyn.

The political science department of Brooklyn College, a publicly-funded institution, has provoked outrage over its plans to sponsor a discussion about supporting the campaign to boycott Israel.

The event, scheduled for Thursday, is to feature contributions from one of the founders of the BDS movement, Omar Barghouti, and pro-boycott academic Judith Butler. It has been organised by the Brooklyn College Students for Justice in Palestine and other campus organisations, but the political science department is an official co-sponsor.

Last week the college was criticised by a number of political leaders and mayoral candidates for New York, who urged its leadership to pull out of sponsoring the event.

The college said the discussion was not intended to show support for BDS, but to provide "a forum for discussion and debate about the topic". It said the issue was one of academic freedom.

Lawyer Alan Dershowitz, a graduate of the college, said that if he was studying there today, he would not major in political science "for fear that my support for Israel and my opposition to BDS might prejudice me in the eyes of professors whose department has endorsed BDS".

He wrote on the Huffington Post: "The event should go forward, but it should be sponsored by students and outside groups, not by a department of the college. The same should be true of pro-Israel events."

The college president, Karen Gould, has now stated that in future "other forums will present alternative perspectives for consideration".

But the issue has caught the attention of British musician Roger Waters, who is well-known for h is support of anti-Israel causes.

In a statement released yesterday Mr Waters backed the Brooklyn College branch of Students for Justice in Palestine and described them as "the fresh air 'we the people' need to breathe".

He added: "You are standing up for truth and liberty. You believe that all men should be equal.

"That you have come under attack from powerful political and media forces for trying to shed light on the predicament of the good peoples of Palestine and Israel is wrong. I stand with you."

In 2010 the Anti-Defamation League criticised Mr Waters for "crossing a line into antisemitism" after he performed against a background depicting Israel dropping star of David - shaped bombs.

Last updated: 10:52am, February 5 2013