Kingsborough administrator Michael Goldstein, in particular, has accused progressive faculty at the college of orchestrating a “systematic and pernicious campaign” of anti-Semitic hate against him. “The reason for their attack?” he writes. “I’m Jewish, politically conservative and I believe in Zionism, the civil rights movement of the Jewish people.” These accusations have been picked up and amplified by the Jerusalem Post and Tablet magazine.
These accusations are irresponsible and unsubstantiated. In making them, Goldstein is adopting a dangerous, increasingly common tactic of the right: cynically deploying anti-Semitism—a very real problem—as a weapon to intimidate political opponents.
Progressive faculty have been subject to a number of different forms of harassment. More than a dozen, for example, have received letters from the Lawfare Project threatening a lawsuit. Some of the progressive faculty accused by Goldstein in the press of inciting anti-Semitic hatred have also received threatening emails and letters.
Kingsborough English Professor Anthony Alessandrini, who is also on the faculty of the CUNY Graduate Center’s MA Program in Middle Eastern Studies, is one of those Goldstein publicly accuses in a recent article of being a “puppet-master” of his fellow progressive faculty, and of inciting anti-Semitic hatred at the college. The article specifically cites Alessandrini’s scholarly and political involvement with Palestine solidarity work, and make the case that an article he wrote about the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement is evidence of his anti-Jewish views. That Goldstein and the journalistic outlets reporting his story are conflating critique of Israel with anti-Semitism threatens to squash discussion of an issue that faculty KCC have the right to study, write about, and discuss freely, as they do regarding all important political and intellectual matters.
It is telling that Goldstein has called on the support of the Lawfare Project, whose mission involves using lawsuits alleging anti-Semitism as a means to harass faculty and educational institutions, perhaps most notably San Francisco State University, in a case recently dismissed by a federal judge. (A separate, related case in state court is still pending.)