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Odd Goings-On at Brandeis:

My alma mater, Brandeis University, fresh from controversy over Jimmy Carter's talk there, has apparently established a closed student-faculty committee to monitor speakers on the Middle East. And, oddly enough, a talk by Daniel Pipes on the "Islamization of Europe," which is, by its title, not a talk on the Middle East, is being held up pending review by this committee.

Meanwhile, the university president, Jehuda Reinharz, and his assistant, John Hose, have gone out their way to insult Dr. Pipes, lumping him in with Norman Finkelstein, whose views on matters Jewish and Israeli make Noam Chomsky look like Ariel Sharon. Hose expressed his contempt for the students who invited Finkelstein and Pipes in this way: "These are people who tend to inflame passions, whose mission is not so much discussion and education as it is theater, a show. … If [students] want theater then it's best to go to Spingold [theater]. … But if you want serious discussion, there's lots of resources available for that already at Brandeis." So John Hose, and by extension Jehuda Reinharz--who encouraged the politicization of the university (IMHO) by proclaiming that the politically loaded concept of "social justice" is now part of Brandeis's core mission--are now the arbiters of "serious discussion"? Since when to university officials at serious schools "monitor" what speakers their students are inviting?

Anyway, a few things should be clear: (1) Brandeis claims to be a liberal arts institution open to all views, and thus has no business censoring individuals invited by students or faculty to speak, be it Pipes or Finkelstein; (2) putting Pipes' talk into the "Middle East" category was a lame way of deflecting criticism from the university for discouraging radical students from hosting Finkelstein; and (3) Brandeis is caught in a bind without any way that I can see to resolve it, at least given the ideological priors of the administration. The University is "sponsored" primarily by Jewish donors [Brandeis is a "Jewish-sponsored, nonsectarian" university, named after the Supreme Court Justice and leading American Zionist Louis Brandeis] and alums who, on the whole, are quite favorably inclined toward Israel. Yet Brandeis , as a typical elite liberal arts school in the Northeast, has a large contingent of students, and a much larger contingent of faculty, who vigorously adopt the standard far left line on Israel, and want to use Brandeis resources to promote this perspective (just as their opposites on campus do). The Admnistration wants to keep the former group from knowing too much about the latter group, lest donations suffer.

Take it from an alum: if you want to give money to a prominent left-wing-dominated university, Brandeis is as good a choice as any. If you want to give money to a Jewish institution or cause, unless your donation to Brandeis is very tightly earmarked, giving to Brandeis is throwing away one's money.

For related prior Brandeis controversies, see these posts.

UPDATE: Reinharz responds. He denies comparing Pipes to Finkelstein, but acknowledges that there is indeed a faculty-student-staff committee that screens requests for speakers on the Middle East. He doesn't explain why Pipes's talk on Islam in Europe falls into that category, nor why students should be discouraged from inviting guest speakers regardless of the expertise available within the Brandeis faculty. Thanks to Soccer Dad for the pointer.

FURTHER UPDATE: This story in the Jewish Week more or less confirms my hypothesis. The Carter controversy, among others, is waking up a segment of Brandeis's donor population that Brandeis, while a fine university by standard criteria, is not a "Jewish" institution and indeed hosts a significant presence of individuals hostile to what many would consider the Jewish community's interests and priorities. Again, there is nothing new about all this. When I was a student there twenty years ago, Noam Chomsky and Angela Davis, among many others not exactly considered the best friends of Jewish communal interests, were honored guest speakers who attracted huge, adulatory crowds, and a left-wing student magazine ran a picture spread analogizing the IDF to Nazis. Not that this isn't par for the course at Northeastern "liberal" universities, but donors interested specifically in supporting a Jewish community institution will rarely have much of an interest in subsidizing such things.

PGofHSM (mail) (www):
Is the "large contingent of students, and a much larger contingent of faculty, who vigorously adopt the standard far left line on Israel" devoid of Jewish members? Or do you mean that an institution or cause ceases to be Jewish if a significant percentage of it, despite being Jewish, adopts "the standard far left line on Israel"? In other words, that to be Jewish no longer is about ethnic descent or religious tradition, but about a political stance. I suppose I should be glad that Hindu identity, at least outside the more insane precincts of Shiv Sena, isn't so strictly policed.

(And what IS that line, anyway? A belief that Israel should be wiped off the map and completely replaced with Palestine?)
2.14.2007 5:14pm
luagha:
Yes. Or a promulgation of policies (like continued land for peace deals that result in greater violence, or advocating demographic destruction through a 'right of return') that amount to the same thing.
2.14.2007 6:04pm
cvt:
I agree the University should not be censoring student invitations, and the best illustration of the problem with that is your incredibly wrong opinions about the relative merits of Pipes and Finkelstein. You say that Finkelstein's "views on matters Jewish and Israeli make Noam Chomsky look like Ariel Sharon." That's just silly. Finkelstein's and Chomsky's views on those issues are fairly similar. As for Pipes, he's an anti-Muslim propagandist, not a serious scholar like Finkelstein and Chomsky.
2.14.2007 6:06pm
llamasex (mail) (www):

If you want to give money to a Jewish institution or cause, unless your donation to Brandeis is very tightly earmarked, giving to Brandeis is throwing away one's money.


How would tightly earmarking your money make or unmake Brandeis a Jewish instituion?

The only possible way I can read this to make ANY sense is saying Brandeis is throwing money away on this committee so donations will be wasted. But that seems stupid as well since even if a school is buying pizza for a closed student-faculty committee it isn't going to add up to much money at all.
2.14.2007 6:14pm
neurodoc:
DB, I am in complete agreement with you. A fuller account, however, would have noted the university prez's pique over a $95K bill for security costs associated with the "quasi-debate"(?!) between Carter and Dershowitz awhile earlier at Brandeis, and his concern about the costs that visits by Pipes and Finkelstein would occasion.

cvt, what evidence would you cite in support of your assertion, "As for Pipes, he's an anti-Muslim propagandist, not a serious scholar like Finkelstein and Chomsky." I am aware of Chomsky's credentials as a linguistics scholar and leftist activist (as well as sympathizer with Holocaust deniers), but not any contributions to "scholarship" pertinent to the issues implicated here. Similarly, I am aware of Finkelstein incredibly intemperate and offensive utterances about Jews, the Holocaust, and Israel, but not of his contributions to what would be accepted by most as "scholarship" in these areas. Pipes, on the other hand, does have substantial credentials as a scholar of Islam, and does very well in comparison to his most vocal critics. If you disagree, please cite for us what you think is the most compelling evidence to the contrary where Chomsky, Finkelstein, and/or Pipes are concerned so we may know the basis for your assertion.
2.14.2007 6:26pm
cvt:
neurodoc:
Here are some cites about Finkelstein, taken from the Wikipedia article. I assume the quotations are accurate:

Raul Hilberg. "Today he is rather unpopular and his book [The Holocaust Industry] will certainly not become a best seller, but what it says is basically true even though incomplete. It is more a journalistic account than an in depth study on the topic, which would need to be much longer."[3]

Noam Chomsky. "A very solid, important and highly informative book [sc., Beyond Chutzpah]. Norman Finkelstein provides extensive details and analysis, with considerable historical depth and expert research, of a very wide range of issues concerning Israel, the Palestinians, and the U.S."[4]

Baruch Kimmerling. "Beyond Chutzpah is the most comprehensive, systematic, and well-documented work of its kind. It is one of the harshest—rational and nonemotional—texts about the daily practices of the occupation and colonization of the Palestinian territories by Israel, and it is an excellent demonstration of how and why the blind defenders of Israel, by basing their arguments on false facts and figures, actually bring more damage than gains to their cause."[5]

Avi Shlaim. "On display are all the sterling qualities for which Finkelstein has become famous: erudition, originality, spark, meticulous attention to detail, integrity, courage, and formidable forensic skills."[6]

Mouin Rabbani. "The scholarship is simply superb. Finkelstein has clearly done his homework, and consulted and mastered a breathtaking range of material: primary sources and documents, scholarly works, reports old and new, correspondence with relevant individuals, and numerous other sources too. He has left no stone unturned.


Now, what are your cites for your assertion that Finkelstein has made "incredibly intemperate and offensive utterances about Jews, the Holocaust, and Israel"? And why should a university administration be deciding who the students should invite to speak?
2.14.2007 6:42pm
davidbernstein (mail):
I don't think Reinharz was obligated to have Brandeis pick up a 95K security bill; I can't think of ANY speaker who is worth 95K to a university, unless donors step up to cover the cost. The problem is that Reinharz had already invited Carter to debate Dershowitz, so he could hardly plead poverty when Carter wanted to come without debating Dersh.

As for Finkelstein and Pipes, if necessary to hold down costs, their talks could be limited to Brandeis University affiliates and invited guests. Fact is, Pipes would probably require a lot more security than Finkelstein, and that itself is sort of embarassing to Brandeis.

Llama, Jewish institution OR cause. You can earmark the money for something specifically Jewish going on at Brandeis, if you'd like.

PG, being anti-Israel doesn't make one nonJewish, but it certainly isn't evidence of Jewishness. Brandeis protrays itself to an elderly Jewish donor base as a "Jewish community" institution, to the academic world as a politically correct liberal arts institution, and to potential students, at least when I was applying, as completely nonsectarian and open-minded. Just like television made it impossible for politicians to promise contradictory things to different audiences, the Internet is making impossible for Brandeis to keep up all these pretenses simultaneously. I think the Jewish community could use an excellent university that's not just Jewish-sponsored, but in some meaningful sense, beyond having a majorityof Jewish students and some Jewish holidays off, "Jewish." That's not Brandeis, at least the Brandeis I know, where you'll find corn beef and cabbage in the cafetria on St. Patty's Day, but no sign of Purim or other Jewish holidays. Brandeis is free to be what it is, but it shouldn't be scamming it's donor base.
2.14.2007 7:24pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
I wouldn't put too much stock in a blurb that praises any author for exposing the 'colonization' of any part of Palestine by Jews.

Unless it was written by a Canaanite around 1800 bce.
2.14.2007 7:38pm
Federal Dog:
"Here are some cites about Finkelstein, taken from the Wikipedia article. I assume the quotations are accurate"



Snort.
2.14.2007 7:54pm
neurodoc:
cvt, in support of your characterization of Finkelstein as a "serious scholar," you start with a reviewer's high praise of his book as "more a journalistic account than an in depth study"?! Then you cite endorsements of Finkelstein by Chomsky and others of this same ilk, like Kimmerling, and throw in what the Palestinian partisan Mouin Rabbani's praise of Finkelstein's "superb" scholarship. COuld you find nothing by Israel Shahak?

If you have no firsthand knowledge of Finkelstein's personal history or his writings, you should familiarize yourself with them so you might be at least minimally informed about Finkelstein and these others upon whom you rely. When you have done so, perhaps you will say how Finkelstein's own words go along with "serious scholar":

"I can't imagine why Israel's apologists would be offended by a comparison with the Gestapo. I would think that, for them, it is like Lee Iacocca being told that Chrysler is using Toyota tactics." (May/June 1992)

"I don't really know much about Israel." (8/28/00)

"Were it not for the fact that my late parents passed through the Nazi holocaust, I myselfwould probably be a skeptic by now." (interview with Giovanni De Martis)

"Given the nonsense churned out by the Holocaust industry, the wonder is that there are so few skeptics." Holocaust Industry

Those are just a few among so many telling Finkelstein quotes, and they don't really do justice to his loathsomeness.

Can you marshal equally non-compelling evidence from Wikipedia or other sources to support your praise of Chomsky as a "serious scholar" in these matters, and your condemnation Pipes as "an anti-Muslim propagandist, not a serious scholar"? If so, let's have it.
2.14.2007 9:09pm
Al Maviva (mail):
As for Pipes, he's an anti-Muslim propagandist

Right on, CVT. He produces word-for-word translations of news and commentary appearing on officially sanctioned television and print sources in the Middle East.

Publicizing what people actually say, in its entirety, is the most vicious form of propaganda I can think of. For instance, take the vicious attacks on Amanda Marcotte, specifically the ones that merely repeated what she said about Catholics and the Duke 3. Simply repeating what she said was an absolutely low blow, the nastiest polemic imaginable. There's no trick dirtier than hoisting somebody on their own petard.

This is exactly the kind of vicious attack that Brandeis (or most other major universities) should be on guard against, if they wish to preserve their present reputation and maintain their current standing in most people's eyes.
2.14.2007 10:27pm
PGofHSM (mail) (www):
Prof. Bernstein, thanks for your response. But given that according to the Mission Statement on the website, the university president said in his 1995 inaugural address, "Brandeis has a clear and unambiguous identity that rests on four solid pillars: dedication to academic excellence, non sectarianism, a commitment to social action, and continuous sponsorship by the Jewish community," what exactly is the fast one being pulled on the Jewish community? Is the donor base utterly inattentive to what the president actually says in his most public pronouncements? Or are they content to be that fourth pillar even if non-sectarianism is facing opposite?
2.14.2007 10:34pm
Assistant Village Idiot (mail) (www):
Thank you neurodoc - you anticipated my precise points, and expressed them more lucidly than I would have. I would add that Chomsky and Finkelstein are among the more intemperate critics of Elie Wiesel because he does not embrace the Palestinian cause.

I think the more exact translation of "whose mission is not so much discussion and education as it is theater, a show..." would be "Pipes persuades more people than we do."
2.14.2007 10:34pm
Ephraim (mail):
My son is a Brandeis alumnus, and I sent him there precisely because it billed itself as a Jewish school, but they are not going to get a single dime from me until they get rid of the self-haters who seem to run the show now.

What makes a person Jewish? Loyalty to:

1) The Torah of Israel
2) The People of Israel
3) The land of Israel

If that's not universalist enough for some, tough.

Gentiles have no respect for Jews because we have no respect for ourselves. Instead of standing tall and having pride in who and what we are, we always truckle and kowtow to people whose approbation we crave. It's pathetic.

Not leftist enough? Too focused on Jewish concerns like preventing terrorism? Don't put the welfare of other people before the welfare of your own people? Israel more important to you than "Palestine"? Why, you must be a dirty Zionist racist! Can't have that, now can we? Quick, march in support of the people who blow up Jewish women and kids in Israel! That'll show people how even-handed you are!

Of course, no one complains when any other ethnic group puts the concerns of their own community over those of another. Do the people who denigrate Jewish particularism question the supposed Palestinian "right" to have a completely Judenrein "Palestine"? No, it is perfectly reasonable for the Arabs to demand a country with no Jews in it. But G-d forbid that a Jew should have the chutzpah to insist that the Arabs stop blowing people up and rtecognize the right of Israel to exist before they take "peace" negotiations seriously.

The Torah tells us that we must work for the welfare of the countries in which we live. And we have done that in spades wherever we have found ourselves. It's time for Jews to stop apologizing for caring about their own people.
2.14.2007 10:35pm
Stacy (mail) (www):
Things like this are why if anyone asks my opinion, I don't recommend going to college unless you have a specific reason i.e. there is no "liberal" anymore in liberal education, so unless the specific education is worth the money to you, you're better off living in the real world, taking technical training and/or community college classes as needed.

Thank you, Ivy League, for running American higher education into the ground.
2.14.2007 10:50pm
Elliot123 (mail):
Perhaps that student-faculty committee could get around to monitoring books in the library when they have the speakers all set on droning monotone? There must be one or two volumes that inflame a passion or two. Think of what's lurking in those stacks. Some of those books might not even offer serious discussion.
2.14.2007 11:08pm
apb:
Hmmph -

It brings new meaning to say that Brandis is Hosed ...
Free exchange of ideas are Hosed ...
The proper education of university students is Hosed ...
2.14.2007 11:25pm
Eli Rabett (www):
One is amused to find the legal hoi polloi here worrying about how the good name of Louis Brandeis is being sullied.
2.14.2007 11:56pm
advisory opinion:
". . . not a serious scholar like Finkelstein and Chomsky."

Haha. Good grief.
2.15.2007 1:07am
David M. Nieporent (www):
PGofHSM:
Is the donor base utterly inattentive to what the president actually says in his most public pronouncements?
I would assume so; who pays attention to anything a college president says? About 0.1% of the time you get a Larry Summers moment, and the other 99.9% of the time, you get vacuous pablum.
2.15.2007 1:07am
Hallson (mail):
As an alumni, I couldn't wait for my weekly solicitation call from Brandeis, (post Carter debacle). Needless to say, when they called I made it quite clear why I was not donating to the University this year. The young lady did not seem at all surprised...like she heard that one quite a few times before.
2.15.2007 6:55am
JTS (mail):
The accusation that Chomsky is a Holocaust denier (or 'sympathizes' with Holocaust denial) is libelous and should be removed from the site.

Given that the author of this post is linking to the sickening Front Page Magazine, however, I won't hold my breath.
2.15.2007 8:16am
Joe Miller (mail):
As a Brandeis alum, I stopped giving to the alumni fund when they hired Robert Reich and made him a professor of economics. I saw his class reading list and it made me laugh. In 1976 the administration sided with the third-world student group when it was revealed that some of its members were running a theft ring on campus. Those of us on the student paper were labeled "racists." I guess we still are.
2.15.2007 8:57am
Steve:
"If you're a left-wing Jew, you're not really Jewish." Absolutely disgusting.
2.15.2007 8:57am
Yankev (mail):
Ephraim

What makes a person Jewish? Loyalty to:

1) The Torah of Israel
2) The People of Israel
3) The land of Israel


Sounds almost like B'nai Akiva (not that there's anything worng with that -- an excellent organization in many ways, in fact). To PoGoHsfm, who asked

In other words, that to be Jewish no longer is about ethnic descent or religious tradition, but about a political stance. I suppose I should be glad that Hindu identity, at least outside the more insane precincts of Shiv Sena, isn't so strictly policed.


I would offer the following admittedly inapt analogy. If someone was born in the US, served in the US military and votes in every election, yet works tirelessly to overthrow the US government by force and violence and replace it with , e.g, a neo_nazi regime, few of us would disagree with characterizing that individual as "un-American." One can disagree with the policies of the State of Israel, or even think that the establishment of the state was mistaken, and still not be anti-Jewish. But to advocate the destruction of the state, or the abandonment of the state to enemies who openly admit that they would slaughter everyone under its protection, with special emphasis on its Jewish residents, or to condition support of the state's continued existence on adherence to impossilbe standards imposed on no other people IS anti-Jewish. E.g., on theological grounds, Agudath Israel opposed the founding of the state of Israel and is a frequent critic of many of its policies, yet is a fervent supporter of the state's continued existence and defence.
2.15.2007 9:15am
MnZ (mail):

The accusation that Chomsky is a Holocaust denier (or 'sympathizes' with Holocaust denial) is libelous and should be removed from the site.


The irony of this statement gave me quite a chuckle. Thanks.
2.15.2007 10:16am
Ron Mexico:
>>>>>>>>>Things like this are why if anyone asks my opinion, I don't recommend going to college unless you have a specific reason i.e. there is no "liberal" anymore in liberal education, so unless the specific education is worth the money to you, you're better off living in the real world, taking technical training and/or community college classes as needed.

Thank you, Ivy League, for running American higher education into the ground.>>>>>

That's some fine advice you give there. Do you give it to every customer at the local McDonald's while you serve them their fries and hamburgers?

Seriously now, you would recommend people not attend college? Especially in favor of the "real world" or technical schools and community college? Whether or not you find value in the education itself (which, I might add, is extremely sad if you don't find any type of higher education worthwhile), the value of the degree itself is enormous considering it is essential to success in today's job market.
2.15.2007 11:10am
David M. Nieporent (www):
"If you're a left-wing Jew, you're not really Jewish." Absolutely disgusting.
That would obviously be an absurd statement. But being left wing is not the same as being Jewish, which you wouldn't know from many Reform organizations today.
2.15.2007 11:46am
Stacy (mail) (www):
"Seriously now, you would recommend people not attend college? Especially in favor of the "real world" or technical schools and community college? Whether or not you find value in the education itself (which, I might add, is extremely sad if you don't find any type of higher education worthwhile), the value of the degree itself is enormous considering it is essential to success in today's job market."

Seriously now, you should try some reading comprehension. I said that I recommend people go to a four year college (especially an Ivy League school) if and only if their research tells them that a specific major program there is what they want to study. The speech codes, arbitrary censorship and star chamber-like investigations of PC violations have stripped all value from the mere experience of attending a university. When the university is run like a police state, then by definition it cannot be doing "liberal" education.

And yes I've seen courses at community college be more rigorous than the credit-equivalent in graduate school. I'm sorry but that's simply reality. It is true, though, that having the name of an institution like Brandeis on one's resume still carries a lot of cachet, but after another decade of this kind of BS, it won't. I am simply suggesting that the Noam Chomskies of American Academe keep that in mind before they assume there won't be any consequences for their substitution of politics for teaching.
2.15.2007 11:55am
MnZ (mail):

The accusation that Chomsky is a Holocaust denier (or 'sympathizes' with Holocaust denial) is libelous and should be removed from the site.

The irony of this statement gave me quite a chuckle. Thanks.


Perhaps I am being a bit too subtle here. If one examines Chomsky's characterizations of people such as George Kennan, the irony of the original statement should become crystal cleary.
2.15.2007 12:11pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
The value of a Brandeis education would be higher if the lessons the students--the majority, anyway--took from if was that this is not how to run anything. That dishonesty this obvious gets you nowhere.
The Brandeis experience would be dangerous if the students discovered various ways around honesty and fairness, such as claiming victimhood and flat lying with the shout and riot techniques of, say Columbia in reserve.
So, on balance, is Brandeis a net positive or a net negative?
2.15.2007 12:24pm
Christopher Cooke (mail):
I admit to not knowing much about brandeis, but I found the brandeis president reinharz's response to Daniel pipes' letter persuasive. As for pipes, i thought this so-called muslim scholar has said that "all muslims are suspect" and that muslims want to replace the constitution with the koran. While I think it fine to point out the extremism in the arab press (which his organization does), accusing people of automatically being suspect in loyalty to the usa because of their religion seems a bit flippant for a person who holds himself out as a "serious" scholar.
2.15.2007 12:52pm
Elliot Reed:
While I think it fine to point out the extremism in the arab press (which his organization does), accusing people of automatically being suspect in loyalty to the usa because of their religion seems a bit flippant for a person who holds himself out as a "serious" scholar.
Actually "point[ing] out the extremism in the arab press" strikes me as the suspect activity of a partisan out to misrepresent. That there is a nonzero amount of extremism in the arab press is hardly news, so actively pointing out extremist statements, and only extremist statements, seems likely to be an attempt to portray all arabs as extremists. The beauty of this tactic is that you can imply a controversial point without actually it so that if called on it you can claim it's not really what you said.

Sadly, this is a very common disingenuous rhetorical tactic, and hardly limited to debates about the Middle East. And maybe it's not what Pipes is doing; I don't know much about him. But merely quoting extreme statements from the opposition tends, in my experience, to be an attempt to portray extremism as more widespread than it actually is.
2.15.2007 1:36pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Mr. Cooke,

The question of dual loyalties has been asked of Jews, and, during JFK's campaign, of Catholics. Or, to put it another way, the question has been asked in a way presuming the answer.

Do you think Brandeis would refuse a speaker who accused American Jews of dual loyalty? Yeah, me neither.

The dual thing we have here is the standard.

Unlike Catholics ("He'll be getting instructions from the Pope when he goes to confession.") or the Jews, Islam is quite specific that there is no separation of church and state, that the Koran has all the rules we need, and that obedience is mandated by Allah. Whether American Muslims would push that view if they could--swing votes here and there, for example--is unknown, but the fact is, there are very many clergy speaking as if they should. It's possible that there are very many clergy speaking as if they shouldn't, but the latter seem to have lost the key to the sound system.
2.15.2007 1:41pm
Elliot Reed:
Unlike Catholics ("He'll be getting instructions from the Pope when he goes to confession.") or the Jews, Islam is quite specific that there is no separation of church and state, that the Koran has all the rules we need, and that obedience is mandated by Allah.
Get real. Religious teachings are no less malleable in the hands of believers than is the Constitution in the hands of judges. Christianity used to prohibit the lending of money at interest, but then people realized that the ability to lend money at interest was (a) making Jews rich at the expense of Christians and (b) important to the economy, so miraculously those passages got "reinterpreted" to mean that you can't charge "excessive" interest, which in practice is not really a prohibition at all. The bits about the Earth being created in 6 days turned out to be inconsistent with modern science, so they got "reinterpreted" by everyone but evangelicals to mean only that God created the world and everything in it. The bits about stoning homosexuals are inconsistent with the fact that liberal Christians like gays and lesbians, so they've been "reinterpreted" too. The same is true about the separation of church and state. Christianity used to be taken to mandate an extremely close relationship between church and state, and the church/state separation doctrine was invented by Protestants to prevent endless religious warfare. And so forth and so on.

Don't answer by telling me that those doctrinal changes were right or wrong. The thing is, whether they were right or wrong obviously had nothing to do with the theological change. Christians' beliefs changed and they changed their theology to conform with what they wanted to believe anyway. I see no reason to believe Islam is any different.
2.15.2007 1:57pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Mr. Reed.

Ref. your last sentence. You don't see.... What's the emoticon for breathstopped aghastness?

But, anyway, the usual crap about Catholics did it, too, so we can't look at anybody else, in this case, Islam. Consider the various things it took for such changes to come about. The Thirty Years War comes to mind, the War of The Three Henrys in France--religion a big part--various reformations and counterreformations. The important thing is to come out on the right side without paying such a price again.

Also, it took several hundred years. So, have I blamed Catholics enough that I can now talk about Islam?

Islam, if you want to use the Catholic example, is pre-Reformation. We ought to be thinking about how to get to post-Reformation without another Thirty Years War. If that's okay with you. And pretending that all it takes is....what, exactly? Muslims can change their minds any time they want to, any time it looks like a good idea. And when will that be? What did it take for Europeans to decide that a man's religion is his own business? The surviving Europeans, I mean.

I see the Minneapolis airport cabbies changed their minds, on orders from the local Muslim group. Is this going the way you had in mind? Right direction?
2.15.2007 2:09pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
Sure, Islam is compatible with Liberal (capital L, 19th century sense of the word) government. That's why out of 50 Islamic countries, 0 have Liberal constitutions.
2.15.2007 2:35pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
The tercios of the Thirty Years War used pikes and matchlocks. They were supported by primitive artillery.

On the up side, however, once the fighting stops, today can run in food and medicine and beat famine and epidemic.
2.15.2007 3:31pm
PGofHSM (mail) (www):
Yankev,
"But to advocate the destruction of the state, or the abandonment of the state to enemies who openly admit that they would slaughter everyone under its protection, with special emphasis on its Jewish residents, or to condition support of the state's continued existence on adherence to impossilbe standards imposed on no other people IS anti-Jewish."

This is rather unspecific. For example, would advocating that Palestinians be treated as Israeli citizens with the right to vote count as advocating "the destruction of the state"? How about signing the Oslo Accords? Would demanding that a nation follow through on a financial commitment to a Muslim state, even if that Muslim state was violently betraying its commitments, be considered "adherence to impossible standards imposed on no other people"?

As for overthrowing a government by force and violence, does that mean American soldiers are anti-Iraq? Surely the legitimacy of the government is relevant. I agree that actual violence against Nation X usually will be justly characterized as anti-X -- American revolutionaries were anti-British. But with Brandeis students and faculty, we are talking merely about advocacy, not even of violence, but of policies with which you disagree. The above links are not to say that I think you are in favor of assassinating anyone, only to point out the extremes to which such "Because of your politics, you are no longer a Jew/ Hindu" thinking can take people. Gandhi was not a friend of Hindutva -- he was the friend of India, and all Indians regardless of their religion.

David M. Nieporent, when I gave relatively small amounts of money to my alma mater in the first couple of years after graduation, I was quite attentive to what was happening there -- I read the school newspaper, was on an alumni mailing list, etc. I cannot imagine giving a large amount of money to an institution with no idea of what its president or other leadership was saying or doing. How else would I know where my money was going? I suppose if you have Elvis sort of money you can just toss it around, but in that case, why be so fussy about whether Brandeis invites Daniel Pipes to natter?
2.15.2007 4:29pm
Pol Mordreth (mail):

But, anyway, the usual crap about Catholics did it, too, so we can't look at anybody else, in this case, Islam. Consider the various things it took for such changes to come about. The Thirty Years War comes to mind, the War of The Three Henrys in France--religion a big part--various reformations and counterreformations. The important thing is to come out on the right side without paying such a price again.

Also, it took several hundred years. So, have I blamed Catholics enough that I can now talk about Islam?

Islam, if you want to use the Catholic example, is pre-Reformation. We ought to be thinking about how to get to post-Reformation without another Thirty Years War. If that's okay with you. And pretending that all it takes is....what, exactly? Muslims can change their minds any time they want to, any time it looks like a good idea. And when will that be? What did it take for Europeans to decide that a man's religion is his own business? The surviving Europeans, I mean.


Mr. Aubrey, with your permission, i'd like to appropriate this comment in its entirety. This is as succinct as I have ever seen it put.

R/
Pol
2.15.2007 5:27pm
neurodoc:
Elliott Reed, you say: Actually "point[ing] out the extremism in the arab press" strikes me as the suspect activity of a partisan out to misrepresent. That there is a nonzero amount of extremism in the arab press is hardly news, so actively pointing out extremist statements, and only extremist statements, seems likely to be an attempt to portray all arabs as extremists. The beauty of this tactic is that you can imply a controversial point without actually it so that if called on it you can claim it's not really what you said.

The implication is that those extremist statements from the Arab media are being "cherry-picked" so as to cast the Arab world in an unfavorable light. Would you tell us how much "reasonable" or "moderate" expression in the Palestinian, Saudi, Egyptian, Syrian and other Arab media we do not hear about, and offer examples of such to correct the impression that these countries do not share Western values? If you can't, then what proof do you have of "selection bias" and why should we regard what you allow as a "nonzero" amount of extremist expression as unrepresentative?
2.15.2007 5:49pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Mr. Mordreth.

Thanks for your compliment. I aspire to have something, anything, copyrighted. I haven't reached that point, yet, so feel free to feel free.
2.15.2007 5:49pm
Elliot Reed:
The implication is that those extremist statements from the Arab media are being "cherry-picked" so as to cast the Arab world in an unfavorable light. Would you tell us how much "reasonable" or "moderate" expression in the Palestinian, Saudi, Egyptian, Syrian and other Arab media we do not hear about, and offer examples of such to correct the impression that these countries do not share Western values?
I don't have the foggiest idea how much reasonable or moderate expression there is in those media. I don't know very much about the region. However, I have learned quite a bit about rhetoric from observing the American opinion world, and my experience is that archives of unfavorable-sounding quotations from a group are usually cherry-picked to make the group look worse than they really are (on average). This doesn't mean, incidentally, that the group in question is "moderate" or "reasonable." To take another example, if you pick your quotes right, it won't be all that hard to portray the Christian right as fanatics who want to impose the Old Testament law on us all. That wouldn't be true, and I'd be misrepresenting them if I tried to portray them that way. But the fact that they're not that crazy doesn't make them "moderate" or "reasonable."
2.15.2007 6:15pm
glangston (mail):
I think they've set the parameters for this already. As long as Security costs are under $95K the gig should go forward, as long as Pipes keeps his talk on subject.
2.15.2007 7:51pm
neurodoc:
Elliot Reed:
That there is a nonzero amount of extremism in the arab press is hardly news, so actively pointing out extremist statements, and only extremist statements, seems likely to be an attempt to portray all arabs as extremists.

And maybe it's not what Pipes is doing; I don't know much about him.

I don't have the foggiest idea how much reasonable or moderate expression there is in those media. I don't know very much about the region.

I have learned quite a bit about rhetoric from observing the American opinion world...my experierience

You "don't know much about (Pipes);" you "don't have the foggiest idea how much reasonable or moderate expression there is in (Arab) media," though you allow there is a "nonzero amount of extremism in the arab press;" as for the Middle East, you "don't know very much about the region;" and your opinions are based on unspecified personal experience and what you have learned "about rhetoric from observing the American opinion world." So exactly what point(s) are you trying to make? That not "all arabs (are) extremists"? That notwithstanding his failure to adduce supporting evidence, cvt is right, "Pipes (is) an anti-Muslim propagandist, not a serious scholar like Finkelstein and Chomsky."? That those who sound the alarm about "Islamism" are in truth bigots and "Islamophobes"? What?
2.15.2007 11:18pm
advisory opinion:
Damn, that was brutal from neurodoc.
2.16.2007 12:03am
Christopher Cooke (mail):
I do agree with Elliot Reed that one can certainly misrepresent mainstream media by selective quotation. But, from what I have read about the press in much of the Arabic world, I am not sure you need to quote selectively and unfairly from the press there to find rabid anti-American and anti-Semitic views.

Mr. Aubrey, I guess my response is the old cliche that "two wrongs don't make a right." The fact that people wrongly accused Kennedy of dual loyalties, or accuse some American jews of dual loyalties, doesn't make it appropriate to accuse American muslims of the same dual . Indeed, the few muslims I know in the US are quite loyal citizens and I find it offensive to equate them with radical extremists.

I also don't buy the argument that the "text" of the Koran makes muslims more suspect as citizens. Even if it were true about the Koran's literal meaning, many people ignore the literal interpretations of their holy books, for a variety of reasons ---e.g., because they were written a long time ago in much less tolerant, and much harsher, times, and don't speak to our modern daily experiences. (See, e.g., Leviticus). Indeed, recent surveys of the Islamic population in the US have found that muslims in the US are much more assimilated than in other parts of the world. I think that is true because we are a diverse and tolerant society, yet we are a society that consciously values coming together as one. Other societies, such as in Western Europe and the Netherlands, are very tolerant, but perhaps do not try hard enough to encourage newcomers to assimilate into the mainstream culture. It is of course hard for any society to cherish and accept religious and ethnic differences, and yet seek to create a common culture, but I think we do a better job than most, perhaps because of our long experience with immigrants, and because the extreme left in the US (which, admittedly, sometimes does seem to view any call for one culture as an assault upon a ethnic or religious minority) is not very strong politically in the US.

Indeed, the Brandeis controversy, about Pipes being disinvited (?) perhaps would not be controversial in Western Europe, where he would probably not be invited at all because of his views.
2.16.2007 1:09am
Yankev (mail):
PGofHSM

This is rather unspecific. For example, would advocating that Palestinians be treated as Israeli citizens with the right to vote count as advocating "the destruction of the state"? How about signing the Oslo Accords? Would demanding that a nation follow through on a financial commitment to a Muslim state, even if that Muslim state was violently betraying its commitments, be considered "adherence to impossible standards imposed on no other people"?


Okay, let's get specific. Your post relies on a number of false assumptions.

Arabs born in Israel are indeed Israeli citizens, with the right to vote, and indeed Arabs and Muslims have held positions in the legislature in every Israeli government since the state was founded. The current government, in fact, includes at least one Arab muslim cabinet-level minister. How many Arab countries allow Jews to vote, let alone serve in the government?

Extending the vote to "Palestinians" would be condemned by the Arabs, the UN and others as a defacto attempt to annex the disputed territories. (As was, e.g, Israel's attempt to improve Arab housing conditions in Gaza in the 1970s, and to improve trash collection in East Jerusalem in the 1980s.) The elected representatives of the Palestinians have made it clear that they do not want Israeli citizenship for themselves nor for those they represent. Any Palestinian who desires Israeli citizenship is free to seek naturalization.

And plenty of other nations -- e.g Japan, Mexico, Kuwait, and (I believe) Germany -- do not confer citizenship on every person born in the country, yet are not threatened with loss of sovereignty and extermnination of its citizens.

Advocating a so-called right of return for Palestinians to Israel is advocating de facto the destruction of the state IMO.

Israel signed the Oslo accords. That is a fait accompli. Many Jewish and Israeli leaders foolishly supported that self-destructive act, despite plenty of evidence that Arafat (may his name be blotted out) had neither the desire nor the ability to make peace with Israel, and was signing the accords solely as a tactic in the 50+ year war to eliminate Israel, as he admitted to his confidants at the time, and in post-Oslo speeches given in Arabic. Events bore out the fears of those of us who were vilified for pointing out that Oslo was an exercise in suicidally naive wishful thinking.

Misrepresenting Israel's obligations under Oslo (e.g. demanding unconditional performance of conditional obligations, or that Israel concede matters that Oslo says are to be determined by negotiation) is IMO demanding adherence to impossible standards imposed on no other people. The moreso when the condemnation shows no recognition or dismay that the PA has yet to comply with a single one of its unconditional obligations under Oslo, let alone its conditional obligations.

And yes, as far as turning tax revenues over to another state that is actively conducting a military campaign against your military -- let alone your civilians -- is a demand that would be made against no other country, IMO. The PA is conducting both, as well as its unrelenting political campaign to abolish the State of Israel. PA TV and radio for the past several weeks have also been broadcasting appeals for all loyal Muslims to come to Jerusalem to attack Jews as part of a holy war. What other nation would be expected to fund appeals for its own destruction?

I hope that's specific enough for you. I could cite more, but I do not have all day.
2.16.2007 10:19am
PGofHSM (mail) (www):
That all the positions against which you argue are unwise, I'm happy to agree. (Though in response to your last question, as to what other nation would be expected to fund appeals for its own destruction, Gandhi's opponents would say that by telling India to pay Pakistan, that's precisely what Gandhi expected of his own nation.) The central point on which I've been commenting throughout, however, is whether unwisdom = unJewish. Did Rabin's foolishness in signing the Oslo Accords make him a traitor to Jewishness?

I'm pursuing this question because I get the impression from many commenters on this thread that only certain political positions are permissible for Jews to hold. Advocating any policy that would cause Israel to be no longer a majority Jewish nation is deemed treason to Jewish identity.
2.16.2007 1:30pm
Ephraim (mail):
PGofHSM says:

Advocating any policy that would cause Israel to be no longer a majority Jewish nation is deemed treason to Jewish identity.

I think this is a pretty fair statement, and one with which I agree. Jews who support the dissolution of Israel as a state of, by, and for the Jews are traitors to the Jewish people and a danger to Jews everywhere.

However, I get the impression that PGofHSM thinks that it is unreasonable for Jews who support the continued existence of Israel as a Jewish state to take issue with the Jewish credentials of Jews who do not. If this supposition is correct, then I assume that PGofHSM also thinks that a Jewish state is undesirable.

Is my supposition correct? If it is, may I ask why PGofHSM feels this way?
2.16.2007 2:16pm
Yankev (mail):

Advocating any policy that would cause Israel to be no longer a majority Jewish nation is deemed treason to Jewish identity.


Yes, just as an American citizen advocating the overthrow of his own government by force and violence is an un-American position.
2.16.2007 2:17pm
neurodoc:
Christopher Cooke, you write, "The fact that people wrongly accused Kennedy of dual loyalties, or accuse some American jews of dual loyalties, doesn't make it appropriate to accuse American muslims of the same dual (sic)."

I don't know who here, if anyone, hurled the charge of "dual loyalties" against American Muslims. But if someone did, how apposite is your allusion to charges of "dual loyalties" against Kennedy or American Jews here? Has the United States ever faced a threat to its security from Catholics or Jews acting collectively in the name of their religions? You would agree, would you not, that the United States does face a huge threat from Muslims who have declared a holy war on this country and already inflicted considerable damage to us here and abroad? Or do you see such talk as so much hysteria?

Do you really think it unfounded to see Islamism as an totalitarian threat of existential proportions to this country and the West not unlike that posed first by Nazism, then by Communism? There was good reason, was there not, to fear Nazis and Communists within and without before, and Islamists within and without now. Or do you think it all comes down to "Islamophobia"?
2.16.2007 5:34pm
Ephraim (mail):
What neurodoc said.

A phobia is an unreasonable, irrational or unfounded fear of something.

The fear of Islamism is eminently reasonable, perfectly rational, and founded on concrete evidence. It is not in any way shape or form a phobia.

A lot of people say that the majority of Muslims are moderate and reasonable. I would like to believe that this is true. However, if such people are out there, they need to let us know. Almost everything we hear in the media from Muslim spokespeople is completely undisguised venom directed against the West, blatant shilling for terrorists, and insidious attempts to make it illegal to criticize Islam disguised as "respect for religion", all in the name of combatting "Islamophobia".

I believe that a past president of CAIR is on record as saying that CAIR's goal is to replace the US Constitution with the sharia. If this is true, then Islam is most definitely a mortal threat to the US and must be resisted and exposed for what it is.
2.16.2007 6:56pm
PGofHSM (mail) (www):
Yankev,
Of course advocating force and violence against X is a betrayal of X and to be anti-X. I don't recall having specified that the policy be one of force and violence, however. Please point out where I said that, rather than "ANY policy." I didn't think advocating a right of return for non-Jews, for example, was advocating force and violence, unless we're now crumbling language to the point that "right of return for non-Jews" has the precise meaning "force and violence." Certainly you can think that the non-Jews then will *use* force and violence, but there's a wee step there that I'd prefer you not leap over.

Ephraim,
I am mostly indifferent to whether any nation on earth is majority-anything, whether it be majority white, Jewish, Japanese, etc., because I dislike organizing nationhood based on ethnic and religious identity. If a nation happens to be composed mainly of people of a particular race or religion, fine, but I am not going to support policies directed specifically toward maintaining this state of affairs. This may be a product of being the child of immigrants and part of a small racial and religious minority within the nation of my birth.

I have a greater sympathy toward keeping Israel majority-Jewish and having special rights for Jews -- such as "right of return" -- because of Jews' understandable and rational fear of genocide. Given the history of Jews' treatment in almost every nation on earth, the desire to have a safe space of their own makes sense. However, because my sympathy is based purely on history rather than any shared religious belief (I take no stock in the holy sites of my own tradition, so why should I care about others'?), I don't see Jerusalem or any of Zion as having been the necessary place for such a space. Indeed, based on the safety question rather than on religion, it seems an extremely stupid place to put the nation that will provide a safe space for Jews -- surely it would be better to have such space be in an area surrounded by allies.

Given that mistake in the founding of modern Israel, how to keep it a majority Jewish state that will protect Jews from any future genocide is a difficult question. Shall Israel expel the remaining Arabs within its borders (some of whom came within those borders only due to post-1948 warfare) and refuse immigration to non-Jews? Shall Israel revoke citizenship rights, so that non-Jews can live in Israel but never be able to change the nation's laws? Because as it is, people describe the quickly-reproducing non-Jews within Israel as a danger to the ability to remain a democratic state; if the non-Jews become a larger population, they can vote to change Israel's laws.

Personally, I think it is acceptable for a Jewish person to believe and advocate that Jews no longer need a "safe space," or to think that Israel has not proven to be so safe after all, and for that Jewish person not to have committed treason to Judaism or Jewishness-as-ethnicity-not-religion.
2.18.2007 3:48pm