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August 28, 2015 / 13 Elul, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘Fred Lawrence’

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.”

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.”

Brandeis’s Dishonor Diaries

Sunday, April 20th, 2014

Imam Suhaib Webb was a happy man last Wednesday. The radical Islamist leader of Boston’s Saudi-funded mega mosque boasted that his Muslim community persuaded Brandeis University President Fred Lawrence to withdraw a Brandeis honorary degree from Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the courageous, Somalia-born human rights activist who fled – and who campaigns against – the horrors radical Islam inflicts on women.

Webb blasted out thanks to his tens of thousands of social media followers, to the Brandeis Muslim Student Alliance and to Brandeis Professor of Islam Joseph Lumbard for their activist work. He cheered: “Great job, Umma!” Umma is the Muslim community.

If you watch the videos of his sermons, If you watch the videos of his sermons, you might conclude that Webb is homophobic, anti-Semitic and a misogynist, a man who claims that uncovered women are “bad people.” His mosque’s website once had instructions for men on how to beat their wives.

Ali’s brave words expose this kind of abuse of women in the Islamic world. She threatens to contest – and to expose – Islamist ideology for what it truly is. So Webb sought to have her silenced. And he succeeded. If Brandeis President Fred Lawrence lived in a world not drenched in post-modernist political correctness, he would be Ali’s most natural champion. But he is owned and ruled by that canon.

It’s a topsy-turvy world. Most Jews older than 40 don’t have a clue about the fast-flowing river of politically correct thought that runs beneath and undermines our society’s foundations of history, reason, morality and logic. They do not fully understand that the mental world in which our children – and our elites — are steeped. They don’t know that the 1960s ideologies were the victors in the culture wars, so much so that our public schools and popular culture rehearse and extol them daily. That’s why so many were shocked that a “Jewish” and “liberal” university could publicly dishonor a black woman who fights for human rights.

Only by knowing today’s secular theology with its complex hierarchy of values could one understand how Webb, a white man, can call a black woman an idiot, question her qualifications to teach at Harvard and not be relegated to social hell.

Only threatened by the twisted idea of “Islamophobia” – that you are a racist if you object to an unreformed medieval way of life — could Lawrence publicly shame and dishonor a woman who escaped her medieval society – after having been genitally mutilated, forced by her devoutly religious family into marriage, and threatened with death – and who now bravely faces down her murderous enemies. Only under PC insanity can Webb, the white son of an Oklahoma bank executive, claim greater victimhood and moral sanction from Lawrence than a brutalized but brave African woman simply because he adopted a fake accent and converted to Islam while Ali converted out of it.

Parents considering the huge tuitions that colleges now fetch are persuaded to pay through the nose in part because, yes, they deem it practical, but also because they are moved by glowing phrases about the glory and power of ideas. They have yet to understand that the ideas in power on today’s campus can turn on a black heroine and give victory to an Islamist because the president of a “Jewish,” “liberal” center of learning needs to be in line with the Islamist, even though this particular Islamist is on record claiming that Jews were Muhammad’s “greatest antagonizers” and that animosity toward the Jews is understandable.

It was almost exactly a year ago – just after Rabbi Ronne Friedman of Boston’s Temple Israel publicly endorsed his “depth, sincerity and religious scholarship” in an expression of Jewish interreligious “tolerance” — that Webb attacked Ali. He did it from the podium at the annual banquet of the Council on American- Islamic Relations (CAIR), the extremist Hamas front group that led the hateful campaign on Brandeis to snub her. Webb called Ali – a black African woman who converted away from Islam – an “idiot” and wondered: “How can she teach at the University of Phoenix, let alone Harvard?” (Ali is a fellow at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.) Perhaps the endorsement from the rabbi of Boston’s largest Jewish house of worship gave Webb the confidence to call a black female intellectual “stupid.” The Jews, he might well have thought, would never criticize him for it. They’ve been “Islamophobia-d,” mentally mutilated, rendered capons.

Dear Fred Lawrence, President of Brandeis University

Thursday, April 10th, 2014

An Open Letter to the President of Brandeis University

Dear President Lawrence:

I do not want to take up too much of your time. I understand that you are a busy man and that you have been tasked with running a university whose tradition of upholding excellence and moral resoluteness traces back to the days of its founding.  But it is in that same spirit of excellence that I feel compelled–as a simple citizen of this great country–to question your recent decision to rescind the honorary degree you were initially going to bestow upon Ms. Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a human rights activist and feminist who has done so much to advance the cause of women’s rights in the world.

I understand that there are students at Brandeis University who take issue with Ms. Hirsi Ali’s views on Islam and the Muslim world. Moreover, many in the muslim community feel offended and insulted by her views on this topic. Indeed, they have pressured you into making this decision.

What a beautiful country we live in, President Lawrence, where students and citizens are able to voice their opinions in a free and open society. Yet here is a stark irony. These students have the temerity to critique someone because of her views, but they do not see fit in affording her the same right to critique views she too deems insulting. In making your decision you have chosen to sanction one topic of criticism while denying the right of individuals to criticize another.

But sir, you must see the moral ramifications of the decision you have made. It is a question of priorities and you have tragically made the mistake of choosing the wrong one. In choosing to revoke the honorary degree that Ms. Hirsi Ali so richly deserves, you have implicitly placed greater value upon the “feelings” of individuals over the lives of hundreds of thousands of women around the world. Those criticizing her here, in America, have the privilege of living in a society where they are able to speak. But who will speak for the others?

Who will speak for Sarah and Amina Said, two teenagers in the prime of their life who were murdered by their father in 2008 in Texas, their bodies left bloodied and mutilated in a Taxi cab because they were considered to be too “Western.” Will you speak for them sir, or is that too going to be found to be too “insulting” to certain individuals to discuss? Will that also be too “offensive” to be grappled with?

Who will speak for Morsal, a German Afghani young woman of 16, stabbed twenty-times in a parking lot by her brother? Who will speak for Rasha Abu Arra killed in the West Bank in a so-called “honor killing.” She was a mother of six children and her body was left hanging on a tree. She could not exercise her right to free speech. She could not exercise her right to disagree. She could not exercise her right to freely express. So who will speak for her? Will you speak for her? Or are the petty hurt feelings of dissenting naysayers worth more than her life?

Who will speak for Leyla Hussein, whose genitals were ripped open and sliced apart with a blade when she was only 7 years old in Somalia? Will you speak for her, Mr. Lawrence? Or will you simply tell her that this issue cannot be discussed and that a woman who takes up her cause and the cause of thousands of other women cannot be heard because people take “offense” to her.

Will you speak for Ayesha, forced into a marriage by her family in Pakistan and repeatedly raped during a four month ordeal? She did not have the luxury of worrying about “offending” people by her speech since her freedom was snatched away from her as her husband forced himself on her routinely.

Brandeis Caves to Pressure, Withdraws Honor to Ayaan Hirsi Ali

Wednesday, April 9th, 2014

In a complete collapse of rectitude, Brandeis University’s president Fred Lawrence issued a statement on Tuesday evening, April 8, announcing the withdrawal of women’s and human rights champion Ayaan Hirsi Ali as a recipient of an honorary degree from the school at this year’s commencement.

For two days Muslim students and supporters raged against the decision to honor Ali because, they claimed, she is Islampohobic.

Ali was born in Mogadishu, Somalia. In 1992 she escaped an impending arranged marriage to a relative, running to the Netherlands, where she learned the language and established a life. She rose to become a member of the Dutch parliament, where she worked to further the integration of non-Western immigrants into Dutch society.

In 2004, Ali made a film with her friend, Theo Van Gogh. That film, “Submission,” is about the oppression of women in conservative Islamic cultures.

After “Submission” was aired on Dutch television, an Islamic extremist murdered Van Gogh who was enraged by the portrayal of Islam.  A letter pinned to his body contained a death threat to Ali. She eventually fled Holland and Ayaan Hirsi Ali now lives in the United States.

Ali evolved from being a devout Muslim to one who questioned her faith, to ultimately and resolutely rejecting it.

“I left the world of faith, of genital cutting and forced marriage for the world of reason and emancipation. After making this voyage I know that one of these two worlds is simply better than the other. Not for its gaudy gadgetry, but for its fundamental values.” That is a quote from Ali’s book, “Infidel.”

Ali has been extremely and indeed harshly critical of the Islamic world in which she suffered, both as a child in Africa, and also as a hunted creature, in Holland, from the angry immigrants who brought with them to Europe a profound inability to accept criticism of Islam.

And now, here in America, Ali is still being hounded by those who refuse to live by the standards of the West, of tolerance, of robust confrontations, but ones not knife-edged with intimidation.

The Facebook Page denouncing Ali and the decision to honor her at Brandeis’s 2014 Commencement decried her for her “hate speech.” The Muslim Students Association claimed that honoring her “is a direct violation of Brandeis University’s own moral code as well as the rights of all Brandeis students.”

Most chillingly, while the students acknowledged Ali had experienced “terrible things in her life,” their bottom line was “we will not tolerate an attack at our faith.”

And so they issued a fatwa: the invitation to Ali had to be rescinded. The school newspaper, The Justice (yes, the irony!) ran both a “news article” and an editorial denouncing the decision to give Ali an honorary degree.

Brandeis University president Fred Lawrence echoed the students (and a large number of faculty members, including the Women’s Studies professors) in his statement:

Following a discussion today between President Frederick Lawrence and Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Ms. Hirsi Ali’s name has been withdrawn as an honorary degree recipient at this year’s commencement. She is a compelling public figure and advocate for women’s rights, and we respect and appreciate her work to protect and defend the rights of women and girls throughout the world. That said, we cannot overlook certain of her past statements that are inconsistent with Brandeis University’s core values.  For all concerned, we regret that we were not aware of these statements earlier.

Commencement is about celebrating and honoring our extraordinary students and their accomplishments, and we are committed to providing an atmosphere that allows our community’s focus to be squarely on our students. In the spirit of free expression that has defined Brandeis University throughout its history, Ms. Hirsi Ali is welcome to join us on campus in the future to engage in a dialogue about these important issues.

In other words, Ali’s decades of devotion to helping women enslaved by misogynistic practitioners of the Muslim faith – who dominate the governments of Muslim countries – was neutered by the pronunciamento by students that they “would not tolerate an attack on [their] faith.” And in still other words, on American campuses criticism of religion – which has been a fixture of campus life – is no longer permitted. What words, what thoughts will be deemed unacceptable next?

Guess What: 2013 Was a Great Pro-Israel Year on US Campuses!

Wednesday, January 1st, 2014

For years those engaged on the pro-Israel side of the battle for hearts and minds of American college students have watched in horror as anti-Israel forces – whether they call themselves “pro-Israel” or not – metastasized on campuses.

The Israel-demonization events, the infiltration by Israel vilifiers into what were formerly at least moderately pro-Israel institutions, and the disruptions of Israeli or pro-Israel events, were met almost always with either complicity or a hands-off response from the academic administrations, faculty, and often eventhe organized Jewish leadership on campuses.

Things were so bad that Arab Israeli journalist Khaled abu Toameh famously wrote that on his speaking tours of U.S. campuses, he found more sympathy for Hamas than he does in Ramallah.

This is how abu Toameh analyzed the ugliness spread across American academia:

What is happening on these campuses is not in the frame of freedom of speech. Instead, it is the freedom to disseminate hatred and violence. As such, we should not be surprised if the next generation of jihadists comes not from the Gaza Strip or the mountains and mosques of Pakistan and Afghanistan, but from university campuses across the U.S.

But things were beginning to look quite different in 2013.

There has been a sea change on U.S. campuses this year, carried out by those who refused to back down when false claims of Palestinian Arab victimhood or Israeli brutality were raised.

Hallelujah. So we are fortunate to be able to write a list of Top Twelve Pro-Israel Bright Lights on U.S. campuses. What follows is the first installment. Part II will run later this week.

*******

1. Far and away the most significant example of this refusal to accept the tired meme of Israel As The-Worst-Human-Rights-Abuser -And-Biggest-Enemy-of-Peace is The Backlash to the American Studies Association’s vote to boycott Israeli Academic Institutions.  We now know that 95 universities across the United States have rejected and publicly condemned the ASA boycott of Israel.

That includes the most prestigious private schools, state schools, schools at which anti-Israel activity had been flourishing, and almost every other kind of American academic institutions. Condemnations poured in from the likes of Harvard, Princeton, Stanford, Cornell, University of Pennsylvania, Columbia, Yale, University of Chicago, Penn State, Northwestern, Goucher, as well as industry-wide associations of professors and of universities. Several schools, such as Brandeis, Penn State, Kenyon and Indiana University summarily withdrew their membership in the ASA because the boycott so clearly reflected a loss of the association’s mission, an affront to academic freedom and a discriminatory singling out of a single nation for condemnation.

2. and 3. A tie for second place goes to two relatively new leaders of at least nominally Jewish institutions, each of whom staked new ground, rejecting their predecessors’ policies for tolerating abusive positions towards Israel.

Eric Fingerhut became president and CEO of Hillel International this past summer.  For years, many Hillels across the United States have chosen an aggressively passive response to anti-Israel events on campuses, choosing to have their own quiet events instead of confronting viciously anti-Israel events filled with misinformation and lies about the Jewish State. Hillels have even welcomed some of the worst offenders into their buildings or even their own events, in the hopes of showing the enemy that they are really good people. It’s been a disaster.

This past fall the Hillel group at suburban Philadelphia’s Swarthmore College decided it would publicly challenge the pro-Israel guidelines set by Hillel International.  Students bridled against being forbidden the “right” to invite speakers who engage in “demonization, delegitimization or applying double standards to Israel,” or support the economic and legal warfare movement known as the Boycott of, Divestment from and Sanctions against Israel.  Swarthmore Hillel students voted unanimously to reject the guidelines and declare theirs an “Open Hillel.” And then they received a surprise.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/guess-what-2013-was-a-great-pro-israel-year-on-us-campuses/2014/01/01/

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