Brandeis students speak up against graduation speaker Michael Oren
Last week Brandeis announced that Israeli ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren would be the comencement speaker. And Dennis Ross will be receiving an honorary degree.
Brandeis students opposed to the choice have started expressing their disappointment on the interwebs, and have penned this letter, saying:
Regardless of the intentions of the Brandeis administration, the choice of Oren will be seen as primarily a political decision to demonstrate their sympathies for Israel's current policies.I don't think graduation speakers should necessarily be politically neutral. In fact that'd probably be boring. But Oren is fairly extreme, and I think the Brandeis students are right to say that, whether intended or not, picking Oren sends some kind of message, and it's not a good one.
This standpoint not only contradicts the purpose of commencement, it is also in conflict with one of our founding values: our integral relationship with the Jewish community. Oren's far-right positions reflect only a small part of the opinion of the Jewish community, and his selection privileges that part as the embodiment of the Jewish people. This marginalizes the significant (and growing) segment of the Jewish population that does not agree with him on these issues, as well as the larger Brandeis community that feels similarly.
The messaging from the students isn't so much "Oren is evil!" but rather "Oren is not an appropriate choice."
The issue hasn't gotten much pickup yet, but Mondoweiss had a post by one of the students and just now Jeffrey Goldberg has jumped in. Woo.
Paging the Boston Globe, there's a story going on in your backyard.