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Lawmakers Threaten Funding of Brooklyn College for Hosting Event on Campaign Against Israel

Heated politics over a major event for the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign.

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OMAR BARGHOUTI: I absolutely think so. BDS is spreading across U.S. campuses. Many human rights groups, many activist groups—LGBT, feminists, antiwar movements—are joining the BDS campaigns in the United States. Tens of campuses have divestment campaigns. It’s truly spreading.

And there’s been a major shift among younger Jewish Americans. We’re seeing that. I’ve been touring the United States, speaking on campuses, and I’ve seen a steady shift of younger Jewish-American opinion in support of BDS, in support of Palestinian rights. And that’s, I think, raising the alarm bells in the Zionist establishment in the U.S. and among the Israel lobby figures in the U.S. They’re extremely alarmed about this.

AMY GOODMAN: You have worked with Jewish groups here in the United States.

OMAR BARGHOUTI: Absolutely. Several Jewish groups have endorsed BDS. Some Jewish groups that have not endorsed BDS but are working on BDS-related campaigns, like Jewish Voice for Peace, Americans—American Jews for a Just Peace. Many other groups have joined BDS campaigns and are doing excellent work to pressure pension funds like TIAA-CREF to divest from companies profiting from the occupation, to get college campuses to divest their funds, as well, from such corporations.

AMY GOODMAN: Do you sense that shift in the media, Glenn, as you read broadly coverage of the Israel-Palestine issue, and particularly the boycott, divestment, sanction movement?

GLENN GREENWALD: Well, I think there’s a paradox, and I think Mr. Barghouti is right that, in one sense, as public opinion turns against the actions of the Israeli government as they become more extremist, more ultra-nationalistic, more committed to the oppression of the Palestinians, you do see more desperation on the part of those who want to exclude and stigmatize all criticisms of Israel, more extreme behavior, like you saw, for example, in the confirmation hearing of Chuck Hagel, where they essentially tried to pillory him and turn him into a terrorist supporter, just like that councilman that we heard from earlier, simply because he had questioned some actions of the Israeli government and U.S. policy.

But I also think that the harm that comes from suppressing debate over Israel and that comes to the United States from its steadfast, blind support for the Israeli government has become so obvious, so patent, that more and more people are now openly questioning these issues. And I think you see in the media a much greater tolerance for entertaining a wider range of views. I think the Internet and shows like yours have contributed to that by democratizing discourse, by inserting into the discourse these kind of ideas that just a few years ago were considered taboo. And so I absolutely think that things are headed in the right direction. And the way in which you have lots of influential defenders defending Brooklyn College and defending this event, I think is indicative of that. Several years ago, it would probably have been very lonely for those of us doing that, and now it’s become a much more mainstream position.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to thank you both for being with us. Omar Barghouti, one of the founding members of BDS, a nonviolent campaign to boycott, divest, sanction Israel until it complies with international law. His book is called  Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions: The Global Struggle for Palestinian Rights. And Glenn Greenwald, columnist and blogger for  The Guardian, author of  With Liberty and Justice for Some.


Glenn Greenwald, a former constitutional lawyer and a Guardian columnist until October 2013, has earned numerous awards for his commentary and investigative journalism, including most recently the 2013 George Polk Award for national security reporting. In early 2014, he cofounded a new global media outlet, The Intercept. This essay is adapted from his new book,No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Security State(Metropolitan Books), published today.

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