An Open Letter to The Brooklyn Commons: Cancel the event with Christopher Bollyn

Bollyn is virulent bigot and his opinions have no place in a venue that claims to serve the progressive community.

To the Management of The Brooklyn Commons:

Last week, our movement, IfNotNow, hosted a training in your facility during which we discussed our vision and strategy to end the American Jewish community’s support for the Occupation and to gain freedom and dignity for all Israelis and Palestinians. IfNotNow is a progressive, Jewish movement and we chose The Brooklyn Commons because we thought it was a place where our identities — let alone our ideals — would be respected and embraced.

A photo from the two-day training IfNotNow NYC ran at The Brooklyn Commons last week

Your decision to host Christopher Bollyn on September 7th makes us question this assumption.

The Southern Poverty Law Center has denounced Bollyn as a “raging anti-Semite”. On his website, Bollyn routinely cites the “Protocols of the Elders of Zion,” a fraudulent, anti-Semitic conspiracy theory, which has been used to fuel anti-Jewish violence since its first publication in 1903. The description of Bollyn’s talk on your website — “a rare voice exposing the neocons and their Zionist partners-in-crime who had the means, motive, and opportunity to pull off [9/11]” — sounds like a passage out of this long debunked forgery.

Bollyn is virulent bigot and his opinions have no place in a venue that claims to serve the progressive community.

As a Jewish movement focused on the relationship between the American Jewish community and Israel, we have thought deeply about contemporary anti-Semitism and the ways it is often falsely invoked for political gain. Criticizing the policies of the Israeli government — or any government — is not anti-Semitism. Blaming a cabal of malicious Jews for orchestrating the tragic events of 9/11 is. Christopher Bollyn is a real anti-Semite.

While those with bigoted views have a right to share their view in the public, that forum should not be The Brooklyn Commons, a place widely regarded as a home for progressive thought and values. We don’t believe the Commons should host racist speakers, or those that promote misogyny, Islamophobia, or homophobia.

Please, follow the example of the Busboys and Poets Cafe — and every other venue on his tour — and cancel the event with Christopher Bollyn. Otherwise, our movement will consider your venue unwelcome to our views and we’ll find an alternative venue that supports progressive movements not only in word but also in deed.