After almost a week of embarrassing coverage, Brooklyn College rehired Kristofer Petersen-Overton, who had been let go last week after an assemblyman complained that his academic credentials were not sufficiently pro-Israel. Not only was the media coverage withering, but letters of support for Petersen-Overton poured in, not just from his would-have-been Brooklyn College colleagues but from academics and intellectuals around the country, turning into a national news story the school’s craven administrative decision to allow external political pressure to determine what was best for students. (The college had insisted, with strained credulity, that its decision was based on Petersen-Overton’s lack of a PhD.) Just before 9 p.m. last night, the president of the school sent an e-mail to students, looking to spread blame for the fiasco on anyone but herself.
“This debate has been fueled at times by inflammatory rhetoric and mischaracterization of the facts,” she wrote, failing to explain which facts those were. “It is unfortunate that matters of utmost importance to our college community can be so rapidly co-opted by those with a political agenda and distorted by the media.” It’s also “unfortunate” that a school could sully its sterling reputation over such nonsense, and that Gould can’t issue a mea culpa for the foolishness she has allowed to fester on her watch. Her conspicuous inability to manage or lead effectively during this mess indicates that she should resign.
The larger issue that we wrote about yesterday—whether Brooklyn College remains captive to its powerful faction of Israel apologists—remains unresolved. And Assemblyman Dov Hikind retains his bully pulpit, so expect more people to be judged on a litmus test of whether they’ve announced—in simple, easy-for-the-assemblyman-to-understand sound bites—their staunch support for the state of Israel.