web analytics
January 25, 2015 / 5 Shevat, 5775
 
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Brandeis University’

A War of Words (Some More Accurate Than Others) at Brandeis

Sunday, December 28th, 2014

There’s an ugly tempest brewing at Brandeis University and it’s based, at least in part, on free speech, tolerance and student safety. The storm grew out of a more generalized anger with the state of public discourse and of the safety of individuals in our society at large.

But at this point, one black self-described revolutionary and one Jewish conservative journalist, both Brandeis students, are the figureheads in a battle for the soul of an institution.

That institution, Brandeis University, was founded so that Jews, barred from most colleges by anti-Semitism, could find an open door to attain the education they desired. The school was named after the Supreme Court justice Louis D. Brandeis, whose distillation of the essence of freedom of speech has stood for decades as the lynchpin for America, and, in turn, much of the western world.

It was also Louis Brandeis, in an earlier incarnation as a lawyer, who brought humanity into the justice system. His famous “Brandeis Brief” for the first time opened the way for courts to consider human facts, not just legal doctrine, when making decisions about the lives of those people.

DEATHS BY POLICE OFFICERS FOLLOWED BY DEATH OF POLICE OFFICERS

The deaths of black unarmed men at the hands of police officers, Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri and Eric Garner in New York City this summer led to days of protests which increased in fury and exploded in violence after grand juries in both cases declined to indict the police officers involved.

Those deaths were followed by the execution-style murder of two random New York City police officers by a man pledging vengeance for the murders of Brown and Garner.

In response to the death of  the two officers, Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu on Dec. 20, a Brandeis junior, Khadijah Lynch, tweeted the following: “i have no sympathy for the police officers who were murdered today.” She followed that bleet with another, the next day: “lmao, all[,] i just really don’t have sympathy for the cops who were shot. i hate this racist f[expletive deleted]ing country.”

Justice Brandeis might have been first in line to offer to defend Lynch if she were threatened with expulsion for expressing her views publicly. But no one made any such threats. Instead, another Brandeis student took what Lynch placed in the public arena, and wrote and published an article about it for his site that same day. Daniel Mael, a Brandies senior and journalist for the site TruthRevolt.com, merely sent out further what Lynch had already launched.

What Mael wrote was little more than a description of Lynch and what she tweeted. All facts. All taken from public information. All fair game. And then some commenters to Mael’s article posted some seriously ugly talkbacks. Also free speech. Also fairly common in the world of Internet websites with any political orientation.

PUBLIC REACTION BY BRANDEIS COMMUNITY

It was at this point that certain members of the Brandeis community decided to rally ’round Lynch, raising the issue of “community” and “safety.” But it was too late for such hamishe invocations. Once Lynch chose to make her views public by using social media (one that could have been set on private, but was not), she left the cocoon of the university; her righteous defenders were unlanced. But that did not stop them.

No Brandeis Lynch defenders publicly praised her lack of sympathy for the murdered police officers, but one student, Michael Piccione, sent an email on Dec. 22 to more than 200 members of the Brandeis community. Piccione’s statement condemned Mael for “compromising” Lynch’s security and for continuing to endanger her. What Piccione demanded, in his own and in the name of others, was that “action [be] taken to hold this student accountable for his actions.”

You’ve Got Mail: Brandeis Professors’ Hate-Filled Emails

Wednesday, July 16th, 2014

Since its inception in 1948, Brandeis University has been regarded as one of the nation’s finest institutions of higher learning. With a $61,000 yearly tuition bill, students and parents enter the suburban Boston School with the highest expectations.

So it may come as a shock to mom and dad that the university founded to “embody its highest ethical and cultural values and to express its gratitude to the United States through the traditional Jewish commitment to education” has an official university faculty listserv (email list) consisting of prominent professors who promote anti-Semitic stereotypes and have great disdain for America and the State of Israel. First reported by Brandeis student Daniel Mael in Breitbart.com, the “Concerned” listserv was created in 2002 “out of concern about possible war with Iraq.”

Mael wrote, “It contains 92 subscribers, including professors from outside of the university. Participants express their fear and disdain on issues ranging from United States foreign and domestic policy, the ‘American system’ and ‘the Israelists,’ to ‘President “Obomber” ’ and ‘Hillary “Obliterate Iran!” Clinton.’ ”

The free exchange of ideas is tolerated only if those ideas hail from the left side of the political spectrum. “Concerned” co-creator Gordon Fellman explained in a 2009 email: “It is rude to post a recipe for pork roast on a vegetarian listserv or an orthodox Jewish one, or right wing harangues on the concerned list.” Critics argue that the private institution has already engaged in stifling free speech.

Brandeis attracted international attention in April when it withdrew an invitation for an honorary degree from Somali-born women’s rights activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali. A petition protesting the university’s honoring of this survivor of female genital mutilation, as well as one of the hundred most influential people in the world according to Time magazine, was signed onto by 87 professors. “Houston, we have a problem,” explained Brandeis English professor Mary Baine Campbell: “Ayaan Hirsi Ali claims to have had a difficult early life, and it may be true. However, she’s an ignorant, ultra-right-wing extremist, abusively, shockingly vocal in her hatred for Muslim culture and Muslims, a purveyor of the dangerous and imaginary concept, born of European distaste for the influx of immigrants from its former colonies, ‘Islamofascism’ – which has died on the vine even of the new European right wing. To call her a ‘women’s rights activist’ is like calling Squeaky Fromm an environmentalist.”

What students, parents and alumni may regard as the most troubling rhetoric by a “Jewish-founded college” that bears the name of the first Jewish Supreme Court Justice, are emails infused with anti-Semitic stereotypes and Israel-bashing. On June 30th of this year, East Asian Studies Professor Donald Hindley forwarded a newsletter from an anti-Israel group and characterized the Jewish state in the body of his email as “the vile, terrorist Israeli government.”

In a September 12, 2012 email to the “Concerned” list, he blasted the notoriously “progressive,” left-leaning National Public Radio’s coverage of the Benghazi attack, querying:

“Anybody hear this evening’s NPR report on this ‘incident’? Made no mention of the Israeli Jew film creator and his American Jewish financiers. None. But a lot about the Christian cleric. Typical for NPR News, serving what the Israeli government wants us Americans to know and believe – or not know and not believe. Profoundly shameful and anti-American.” The film creator, Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, is an Egyptian-born Coptic Christian.

Hindley is not afraid of invoking Holocaust imagery in his emails and especially in reference to retired university president Jehuda Reinharz. A November 21, 2010 email bears the subject line “The Reinharz Reich in Perspective,” and a December 24, 2009 email refers to the head of the institution as the “Brandeis führer.”

Brandeis Unbecoming: Chloé Speaks In Defense of Ayaan Hirsi Ali

Wednesday, May 21st, 2014

It has become a very confusing time for those who wish to appease the latest and the loudest and the brashest arbiters of human rights priorities.

Brandeis University is only the latest and most painfully public example of western institutions losing their moral moorings.

Earlier this year, Brandeis offered to bestow an honorary degree on Ayaan Hirsi Ali, an African woman who spent the early years of her life as a victim of her native African Muslim culture. It inflicted upon her, first, the physically painful and permanent agony of female genital mutilation. Later, she fled the emotional and permanent agony of a forced marriage. Eventually, Hirsi Ali arrived in Holland – the bastion of liberalism and modernity. And there, Hirsi Ali thrived. She learned the language – several, in fact – and become an unflagging and outspoken human rights advocate, eventually achieving the exalted status of a member of the Dutch Parliament.

But Hirsi Ali stumbled in the eyes of a previously adoring world when she dared to name and openly criticize the religion which had physically maimed her, and which sought to emotionally enslave her.

When Hirsi Ali, based upon her personal, brutal, experience, named Islam as an enemy of freedom, a door slammed shut. The Human Rights Priority Police have decided that the name of Islam is the highest and greatest good, the virtue of which must be preserved at all costs.

So Hirsi Ali was forced, once again, to flee. She left Holland and settled in the United States: Land of the Free and Home of the Brave. At least, it used to be.

When certain fringes of the American branch of the Human Rights Priority Police learned that Hirsi Ali was about to be given a public honor at a university – the home base of those whose position is obtained by judging the actions of others, but never actually acting on the public stage themselves – they whipped their forces into a frenzy of spitting, swirling defiance.

Brandeis faculty members and students – few if any of whom have done more to advance the cause of human rights than sign an online petition or write a research article – decided that they could not permit their home base to honor someone who had insulted Islam, no matter how much good Hirsi Ali had done for persecuted women.

And so, caught broadside by the feverish outrage hurled at him by faculty and students, Brandeis University’s president, Fred Lawrence, stumbled and fell. He chose to embarrass himself and his administration by claiming not to have known about Hirsi Ali’s “extreme statements” – not her actions, mind you, nor the actions of those who, in the name of Islam, have tortured, mutilated and murdered scores of women across the globe. He withdrew the honor he had extended to the honorable Hirsi Ali, causing still more harm by feeding the insatiable hunger of the Morality Arbiters.

In fact, the death sentence he uttered was not for the honor of Hirsi Ali, but for his own honor, and that of his university’s, and perhaps for so much more unless people are shaken out of the death march away from truth and justice.

Everyone should listen to what Chloé Simone Valdary, a college junior from New Orleans, has to say.  Imbibe the information provided in her video. And allow her to help you remember how to stand firmly on solid moral ground. Pull yourselves and those you know up out of the abyss of moral relativism, of equating words with actions, of punishing truth and rewarding intimidation.

Brandeis Honorary Degree Recipients Disappearing Fast

Friday, May 16th, 2014

Less than two months ago, Brandeis University publicly released the names of the people who would be given honorary degrees at its 2014 graduation, scheduled for Sunday, May 18.

Who could have predicted that within the short time-span between the announcement and the awarding of the honorary degrees, the two women slated to be honored by Brandeis would both be scrubbed from the event?

One woman – Ayaan Hirsi Ali – was scrubbed by Brandeis. The other – Jill Abramson -  just pulled out because, as explained at the faculty meeting by Brandeis President Fred Lawrence, she “was not looking to take part in the celebratory nature of the weekend” due to her having been fired as executive editor of the New York Times this week.

However, Abramson is apparently a rapid healer as Wake Forest University confirmed that Abramson will be the commencement speaker at that school’s graduation on Monday, just one day after Brandeis’s ceremony.

Geoffrey Canada, the current (he’s leaving sometime this summer)  president and CEO of  Harlem Children’s Zone is still slated to be this year’s graduation speaker. Canada will also be receiving an honorary degree, along with Eric Lander, one of the principal leaders of the Human Genome Project, and longtime Brandeis University Trustee Malcolm L. Sherman.

But the two women on the original list of 2014 Honorary Degree Recipients, international women’s rights advocate Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Jill Abramson, first female executive editor of the New York Times, will not be joining the Brandeis graduating class of 2014 in Waltham, Massachusetts.

Brandeis unceremoniously dumped Hirsi Ali in April. That happened after members and fellow travelers of the school’s Muslim Students Association, in cahoots with a myriad of leftist professors – including a huge chunk of the women’s studies department – brought tremendous pressure on Brandeis University President Fred Lawrence to punish Hirsi Ali for “insulting Islam.”

And now Abramson, in the wake of having been fired, has decided the Brandeis gig doesn’t fit in with her weekend plans.

One Brandeis student is especially disappointed with what has transpired.

“I’m graduating from Brandeis this year and had the university not exercised bad judgment by disinviting Hirsi Ali, we would not be in the position we are in now,” Josh Nass told The Jewish Press by telephone. “How can it be that in 2014 there will not be a single woman honorary degree recipient from Brandeis?”

Rumor has it that the NYT fired Abramson in the wake of her having recently hired a lawyer to represent her in discussions with the paper after discovering she was paid less in two positions at the paper than had the people whom she replaced.

Brandeis junior Daniel Mael commented to The Jewish Press that “beyond the issue of Abramson not showing up at Brandeis’s graduation, it is ironic that the New York Times has become the new icon for the leftist war on women.”

First Amendment Hypocrisy: Muslims and Israel

Friday, May 16th, 2014

At the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), Muslim student leaders and their leftist allies are pressuring candidates for the student senate to pledge that they will not take a sponsored trip to Israel. And those who have taken such trips are being “outed” as Islamophobic.

You can run for the UCLA student senate and travel to any of the countries in the Islamic world where kings and emirs arbitrarily control people’s lives; gays are strung up on construction cranes; women who are raped are further punished for the offense of being a rape victim; the honor killings of women are celebrated, and child slavery flourishes. You can go to any of these regimes where human rights cease to exist and still be fit to be a UCLA student senator. You just can’t go to the Jewish state.

Eager not to offend those who are perpetually offended, a majority of student senate candidates signed on to the pledge, yielding not just their First Amendment rights but also their rights to think and experience for themselves.

On college campuses, you can’t be a champion of human rights that is critical of Islam like Ayaan Hirsi Ali, whose own life is a testimonial to its misogyny. Invited to receive an honorary degree at Brandeis University, Ali’s invitation offended a gaggle of leftist professors and Muslim students, who compelled Brandeis’ cowardly president to rescind the invitation.

Invited to be Rutgers University’s commencement speaker, Condoleezza Rice, one of the world’s most accomplished African American women, was forced to decline because of opposition from Muslim students and leftist faculty.

I attended a Daniel Pipes’ lecture at UC, Berkeley a number of years ago. To get into the lecture, we had to pass through airport-type security. A phalanx of police surrounded the interior of the hall. A safe room had to be set aside for Pipes and an exit strategy had to be created to get to it. The lecture was punctuated with verbal and physical disruption. Pipes had to stop while police ejected the most confrontational protesters.

After the lecture, we had to exit nearly single file through one door. Waiting for us outside was a gamut of Muslim students and their leftist sympathizers, who shouted in our faces and spat at us. We offended them. We dared to avail ourselves of the right to assemble guaranteed us under the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

At the University of California, Irvine in 2010, Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren’s address was loudly interrupted numerous times with personal attacks. He could not continue. The audience was deprived of hearing him. Eleven Muslim students were arrested and convicted for repeatedly disrupting the address.

The benefit of a diverse campus culture is that exposure to different attitudes and behaviors enrich us. But there is no enrichment when a culture, political or religious, arrogates to itself what the rest of us can hear.

Ironically, when it comes to bringing speakers on campus that will denounce America or openly call for the killing of Jews, Muslim student leaders are quick to invoke their First Amendment rights to hate speech as protected speech.

Radical Muslim or leftist speakers can come on campus and say the most offensive things, as is their right. And they will need no phalanx of police to protect them, no insults will be hurled, and no physical intimidation will take place. An escape plan or a safe room will not even be part of the security calculus.

Lurking in the back of the minds of campus administrators over who gets to be heard and who doesn’t is the potential for violence. Through physical intimidation and confrontation, Muslim students and their leftist allies raise the specter of violence while judiciously moving up to the line but only occasionally crossing it. Nonetheless, the prospect of violence often guarantees their right to use the First Amendment while denying it to others.

Dear J Street: Time to End the Hypocrisy

Friday, May 9th, 2014

On Friday, April 25, on the way back to his dorm room, Brandeis student Daniel Mael passed a  group of his peers with whom he had previously engaged in civil discourse about the state of Israel and the complexities of the Arab-Israeli conflict. Although they had often disagreed on many aspects of this issue, according to Mael, he felt that it was necessary to extend a hand of graciousness and respect to them in the name of civil and polite discourse. After all it was the Sabbath, and politics should never interfere with showing kindness to your fellow man.

And so, that Friday night, Mael wished these students a “Shabbat Shalom.”  Yet Instead of responding with the same respect and cordiality Mael afforded her, according to witnesses present,  Talia Lepson, a J Street U Brandeis board member, shrieked at Mael, “Jews hate you!” and “You’re a [expletive deleted]bag!” It was also reported that another unidentified male in the group echoed Lepson’s words, again hurling the vulgar epithet at Mael.

Understandably taken aback by this verbal lashing and feeling unsafe in such a hostile environment,  Mael filed an incident report with the university police. He also wrote at length about it on his Facebook page, wondering why this simple act of saying ‘Shabbat Shalom’ elicited such a hateful response. Yet by the time the Sabbath was over, he put the incident out of his mind.  Thinking it had passed, he began to focus on more important things like taking finals and finishing the semester.

But he was wrong.

That following Sunday afternoon, J Street National posted a blog on its website denying the incident had occurred. Moreover, they accused Mael of making up the story and claimed that he was the one harassing them. They wrote that he had engaged in a “campaign of personal intimidation and harassment” and implored others to distance themselves from “this blogger and others with a history of conduct driven by malice and deceit.”

But suggesting that Mael would make up a story which witnesses corroborated and then proceed to report that same story to the police is risible. He would not only be incriminating himself but the people with him who witnessed the incident.

According to Mael, he was deeply upset by this slander. It was bad enough to have been verbally attacked on campus. It was worse to have the perpetrators blatantly lie about it on a national forum and suggest that he should be shunned by the entire Jewish community. This bullying and  intimidation caused him great physical and emotional turmoil.

Unfortunately J Street’s behavior  is typical. Founded in 2008, J Street is an extreme left-wing national advocacy group that claims to be a pro-Israel organization. According to its website, J Street is committed to “fighting for the future of Israel as the democratic homeland of the Jewish people.”

But J Street has lobbied for anti-Israel legislation: it endorsed a North Carolina resolution proposed in 2012 by the North Carolina Democratic Party which called for negotiations with Hamas and it has supported efforts to divide Israel’s eternal capital, Jerusalem.

J Street also has university chapters known as “J Street U” whose students have promoted anti-Israel activity. For example, at UC Berkley, J Street U students have supported the BDS movement, which calls for a boycott of the only Jewish state in the Middle East. Also, just last week at Swarthmore University, J Street U students co-hosted an event with Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), a rabidly anti-Semitic organization that calls for the destruction of the Jewish state and which also promotes BDS on campuses.

Moreover, J Street has had a history of attacking and maligning its opponents and then, when called out for such behavior, it accuses others of harassment and claims to be the victim. For example, J Street has hosted rabidly anti-Semitic speakers such as Sam Bahour on its national stage. Bahour peddles slanders against the Jewish people, accusing them of engaging in ethnic cleansing and genocide against Arabs. Yet when activists in the Zionist community reject allowing such an immoral group into the pro-Israel “tent,” J Street claims it is being bullied.

Would HaLevi have Turned in Rushdie? Or Banished Spinoza?

Sunday, April 20th, 2014

My esteemed colleague, Yossi Klein Halevi, together with the Muslim chaplain at Duke University, Abdullah Antepli, have penned a defense of Brandeis’s decision to disinvite Ayaan Hirsi Ali, “What Muslims and Jews Should Learn From Brandeis.”

They write that Brandeis President Lawrence has provided an “essential teaching moment,” one that they hope will “prevent our descent into a holy war which would desecrate our faith and devour us all.”

In service to this messianic dream, Halevi and Antepli support the dishonoring of Hirsi Ali as a “renegade;” they do not see her as a “dissident” whose rights they might otherwise respect.

I wonder whether Halevi would have argued for the ex-communication of Spinoza on these same grounds. Perhaps, “renegades” are radicals and dissidents are “reformers.” We certainly need both points of view.

My colleague Yossi is truly a dreamer.

His most recent prize-winning book has “dreamers” in its title,  (and it is a book that I love). A previous Halevi book envisioned interfaith harmony between religions. Its title: “At the Entrance to the Garden of Eden: A Jew’s Search for God With Christians and Muslims in the Holy Land.”

I remember a lunch we once had in the East 50′s sometime after the Al Aqsa Intifada and certainly after Israel’s unilateral withdrawal from Gaza. “Yossi,” I asked, “how is your interfaith work coming along in Ha’aretz?

Sadly, he told me that it was no longer possible for him to visit Gaza or parts of the West Bank safely.

Has Halevi found some new interfaith partners in America?  I am in favor of such alliances and am proud of my own.

But really: Who gets to decide who is a “renegade” and who is a “dissident”?  And do Halevi and Antepli honestly believe that this symbolic but resounding gesture of Brandeis’s can stop Al-Qaeda, Hamas, or the Muslim Brotherhood?

Ayaan Hirsi Ali is an important ally in the battle against Islamism–just as important as are religious Muslims such as Dr. M. Zuhdi Jasser. Most of all, Western concepts of freedom of speech and academic freedom should protect, not banish truth-tellers who stand for women’s rights in fundamentalist cultures.

Halevi and Antepli go further and almost–but not quite–view the Jew-hatred in the Muslim world as morally equivalent to the kind of alleged insult to Islam represented by one woman. One woman. Who offers us reasoned argument and personal experience.

Hirsi Ali does not rant and rave, she is very cool and careful.

Sadly, neither Halevi  nor Antepli are “dissidents” or “renegades.” I am sorry that they cannot extend their generosity and compassion to a genuine hero at a moment of potential peril.

Reprinted with permission of the author.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/would-halevi-have-turned-in-rushdie-or-banished-spinoza/2014/04/20/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: