8:14 AM, Apr 11, 2014 • By WILLIAM KRISTOL
The distinguished intellectual historian Jeffrey Herf, whose Ph.D. is from Brandeis, has written an eloquent and powerful letter to Brandeis president Fred Lawrence. Prof. Herf concludes:
That the president of a university founded by Jews in the immediate aftermath of the Holocaust should have rescinded an honor to a woman who has had the courage to attack the most important source of Jew-hatred in the world today is a disgraceful act and a failure of leadership. Instead of appeasing intolerance in your faculty, you should have taken this moment to reaffirm the values for which Brandeis has stood for so long and reconfirm the place of universities as models of tolerance and enlightenment in our troubled society. Once a proud alumnus, I will be forced to disavow my relationship with Brandeis in the future.
Here's the complete letter, well worth reading in full.
Dear President Lawrence:
As a scholar whose 1981 PhD comes from Brandeis, I read the news that you rescinded the offer of an honorary degree to Ayaan Hirsi Ali with particular disgust and anger. Your decision is an act of cowardice and appeasement to those 85 faculty members who signed their document of intolerance, and it has done deep and long-lasting damage to a university whose very existence is predicated on redressing the damage that discrimination within the academy had done to American Jews for so many years. Unless you can find some way to repair the damage you have done, I will not identify with or support Brandeis as long as you are its President.
Ms. Hirsi has had the courage to say unpopular things about the religion of Islam and the ideology of Islamism. In two of my prize-winning books, Nazi Propaganda for the Arab World (Yale University Press, 2009) and The Jewish Enemy: Nazi Propaganda during World War II and the Holocaust (Harvard University Press, 2006), I have had occasion to address the role of Islam and Islamism in fanning the flames of Jew-hatred. In publishing work that documents the role of the Islamist interpretation of the Koran in promulgating the most absurd and idiotic ideas about the Jews, I have faced intolerance from scholars working on the Middle East. They have denounced well-founded scholarship as “Islamophobia” or “Zionist propaganda” and denied that the Koran or Islamism could possibly have anything to do with anti-Semitism. Like Tony Kushner and Desmond Tutu, to whom Brandeis has given honorary degrees, they have erroneously argued that Arab and Islamist antagonism to Israel is exclusively the result of the alleged sins of Israel. As far as I know, neither has had anything of substance to say about the role of Islam and Islamism in fanning the flames of hatred of the Jews and of Israel. These critics have said that those of us who point to the anti-Jewish elements of the Koran and the Jew-hatred of modern Islamists are guilty of intolerance towards Muslims. I have seen this up close for years now. The last place I expected to find groveling, embarrassing appeasement of this rubbish was from the president of Brandeis University.
No doubt, Hirsi’s comments about Islam offend many believers. The same was true of Sigmund Freud’s Future of an Illusion. Freud, you will recall, dismissed religion as the product of a universal infantile neurosis of humanity. Yet I doubt that if Freud were alive today, those 85 faculty members would have protested his honorary degree. On the contrary, his criticism of religion in general, especially of Judaism or Christianity, would be seen as simply an entry ticket into intellectual respectability.
Your decision reflects a now-widespread double standard of broad criticism of Judaism and Christianity combined with fear—yes it is fear—to write and speak with equal critical spirit about Islam. We historians of modern Germany and Nazism know that the Nazi interpretation of Christianity as well as the core texts of the Christian tradition itself, were used by the Nazis to justify their mass murders. In our own time, Hamas, Hezbollah, the Muslim Brothers, Al Qaeda and the government of Iran, despite their differences, all draw on phrases from the Koran and in the texts of subsequent Islamic commentaries to find theological justification for antagonism to Jews, Zionism and the state of Israel.
8:42 AM, Apr 10, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
Jay Bergman, an alumnus of Brandeis University, forwards us the letter he sent to the president of his alma mater regarding the disgraceful Ayaan Hirsi Ali episode:
11:03 AM, Apr 9, 2014 • By WILLIAM KRISTOL
As Lori Lowenthal Marcus notes, Brandeis University has in recent years bestowed an honorary degree on Tony Kushner, who called the creation of Israel as a Jewish state “a mistake” and who attacked Israel for ethnic cleansing and for causing “terrible peril in the world.” Brandeis has also honored Desmond Tutu, who compared Israel to Hitler, attacked the “Jewish lobby” as too “powerful” and “scary,” and complained of the “Jewish monopoly of the Holocaust.”
1:01 PM, Dec 16, 2013 • By JIM SWIFT
According to the University of Maryland student newspaper The Diamondback, the university’s student health insurance plan is considering requiring coverage of sex change operations.
7:23 AM, Jun 28, 2013 • By ETHAN EPSTEIN
As a “millennial” (i.e. one born between 1980 and 2000), I’ve grown used to reading descriptions of myself – written, always, by those much older than I – that I don’t recognize. It’s a bit like hearing my voice on tape – can that really be me?
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Student loan debt runs to about $30,000 per graduate of the class of 2013, as Phil Izzo writes in the Wall Street Journal. And the total amount of student loans outstanding runs to almost a trillion dollars: more than either credit card balances or automobile loans. More than any form of consumer debt other than home mortgages.
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The reaction of most Americans to the tragedy in Boston was typical: We came together as a nation, mourned our fallen, and applauded our newest heroes. The sight of first-responders running to the sound of danger within mere seconds of the explosions, not away from disaster as human instinct might dictate, was nothing short of exceptional—but also characteristically American. Indeed, for 237 years, Americans have risked all to help their fellow citizens, strangers, and foreigners equally.
10:19 AM, Apr 4, 2013 • By JOE LUPPINO-ESPOSITO
The Johns Hopkins University office of institutional equity has determined that pro-life students who want to conduct sidewalk counseling outside of a Baltimore abortion clinic are not engaging in harassment under university policies.
The students in Voices for Life have requested recognition from the student government association (SGA) but were turned down because the student government believed that the group would be harassing members of the public, in violation of school policies.
4:07 PM, Mar 18, 2013 • By DANIEL HALPER
A year at Columbia University's journalism school will set you back nearly $84,000.