Phyllis Chesler’s column at PJM today concerns the bitter controversy at Brandeis University over the invitation extended to Israel’s Ambassador Oren to speak at their commencement.
For our European readers, here is some background on the setting.
Brandeis is a prestigious and highly-respected university founded in 1948 (no coincidence that it began life the same year as Israel did) in Waltham, Massachusetts. It is named after the first Jewish Supreme Court Justice, Louis Dembitz Brandeis, who had died seven years before the college was born.
Brandeis was brilliant. In the words of William O. Douglas, another Supreme Court Justice:
“Brandeis was a militant crusader for social justice whoever his opponent might be. He was dangerous not only because of his brilliance, his arithmetic, his courage. He was dangerous because he was incorruptible. . . [and] the fears of the Establishment were greater because Brandeis was the first Jew to be named to the Court.”
Interestingly, the Brandeis founders bought Middlesex University, a school that had been in forefront of providing academic refuge for Jews in a time when they were barred from so many places in Massachusetts.
So that is the setting. The context is a bitter division among students about whether or not Ambassador Oren should be permitted to speak at Brandeis. This is ludicrous. When Jewish undergraduates participate in erecting a cordon sanitaire around one of their own, you know the trouble is deeply systemic (Another of its symptoms is the large number of Jews who voted for Obama and continue to support his anti-Israel policies).
Jennifer Rubin sums up her essay on this brouhaha:
This is a microcosm of the “shut up” attitude of the left. It’s not enough that J Street wants to turn over the Western Wall to the Palestinians. It’s not enough for them to oppose crippling sanctions or other effective means of dismantling the existential threat to the Jewish state from Iran. No, what they want to do is muzzle their opponents – a complaint they invariably invoke against the “Israel Lobby.” I wonder, would J Street prefer Stephen Walt as its speaker? Well, all of this is clarifying, if not a bit embarrassing, for J Street, which has been trying to mend faces with the Israeli government. That would be the “current right-wing Israeli government,” according to their man on campus.
I hope the context forMs. Chesler’s essay has been clarified. Now on to a brief snip of her much larger piece. She opens with her own experience:
In 2003, I published The New Anti-Semitism. It effectively ruined my reputation as a pioneer feminist among my rapidly Palestinianized colleagues. But, I saw it then and I see it even more clearly now: This is open season on Israel, not only at the United Nations (which has legalized Jew hatred), and at every international human rights organization, but also in the media and on too many campuses in both the Islamic and Western worlds.
Israel is the pariah Jew of the world, the designated scapegoat…
– – – – – – – – –
Israel is the “Nazi, Apartheid state.” No one dares say the truth, which is that Islam is the largest practitioner of both gender and religious apartheid in the world and it is coming our way sooner rather than later. In Paris, mobs shouted “Kill the Jews” when Dreyfus was (falsely) accused and found guilty and they shouted this again in the early twenty first century.
As I’ve noted, what’s going on is so much bigger than Brandeis University and Ambassador Oren. Do the dissenting students and faculty at Brandeis really understand what is going on?
What students and professors fail to understand, Orwell understands all too well. Israel is the world’s “Goldstein,” the one who is blamed for everything and whose permanent punishment is what diverts people from noticing who their real oppressors might be. [my emphasis – D]
Indeed, the times are diabolically Orwellian. In the name of anti-racism, Jews are the only group whom it is fashionable, even necessary, to critique, even to “hate.”
Right on, Ms. Chesler. In the name of anti-racism, Jews must be hated, publicly and often. The haters recite their litanies of the sins of the Jews, endlessly. I call them “litanies” advisedly because they are by now rote expressions and they don’t deviate from the list of offenses purportedly committed by Jews. We have seen these litanies/laundry lists from a few readers, but we refuse to bow to the paranoid hatred.
We will continue to stand for Israel as long as our blog is standing. As Fjordman said in an email a few weeks ago:
Maybe we won’t be doing this five years from now, but let us do it for as long as we can.
Indeed. It is not given to us to decide how long we can continue, but it is enough to resolve with every bit of determination we have, that we will persevere in our loyalty to Israel.
I suggest you read Ms. Chesler’s column in full to appreciate the ironies in this situation. For example, she points out:
In 2006, Jordan’s Prince Hassan bin Talal delivered the keynote address at graduation. Students did not protest Jordan’s human rights record vis a vis the Palestinians both in 1970 and in 2010, or in terms of torturing its own citizens, nor its abysmal record on honor-related violence, including honor killings…
A Prince who represents a country and a regime that behaves in this way is as “political” as Oren could ever be. The only difference is that one man is an Arab, Muslim prince, the other is an intellectual Jew and an American-Israeli…
There is an online petition to support Ambassador Oren as the commencement speaker this year. You can find it here and add your name. It doesn’t require that you be affiliated with Brandeis University in any way. The only necessity is that you care about one more mean-spirited attempt to muzzle yet one more Jewish voice.
“If I am not for myself, who will be for me? If I am only for myself, what am I? And if not now, when?”