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Posted in: Culture Wars & Censorship, Israel

Published on May 05, 2010 by Phyllis Chesler

Published by Pajamas Media

The Pro-Orens Have it At Brandeis!

Those students, faculty, Brandeis alumni and interested others who are eager to hear Ambassador Oren speak now number 3,164 and counting on a petition. Those who believe that his presence will be "divisive" and "polarizing" now number only 249 and counting.

The pro-Orens have it!

Listen to what some Brandeis students themselves are saying in favor of Ambassador Oren.

According to The Washington Times, Brandeis student Nathan Mizrachi said that protesting Mr. Oren was a "waste of time" and acknowledged that although he is a controversial figure, "anyone who is consistently contributing to our worldview in a dignified, widely respected manner …is someone who merits our attention." He went on to ask students not to protest vocally during Mr. Oren's commencement speech as the Muslim students did in California.

"That would truly be a disgrace to our university," Mr. Mizrachi wrote. Mizrachi also created a pro-Oren Facebook group which now has 162 signatures.

According to Brandeis student and president of the Brandeis Zionist Alliance Rebecca Schlangel, "I was actually really thrilled to hear that Brandeis invited Michael Oren." She had heard him speak before at a Harvard event. "He was really concise and clear; he got all the points across that he was trying to talk about, and the audience responded really well to him," Schlangel recalled. "I think that there is this stereotype on the Brandeis campus that the second anyone says 'Israel,' everyone freaks out and has this overreaction; I really don't feel that his politics are overly controversial," she said. "I don't feel like what he's going to be saying is going to be overly political…He's going to be talking to us about graduating and our future lives."

According to Brandeis student Heddy Ben-Atar:

"The radical ideas to protest [Oren's invitation] stifle free speech and intellectual discussion–exactly what extremist students claim to stand for. [They are doing so] before actually hearing what Oren may have to say. He is damned without even having said a word. It is silly to pretend he will try to solve the Middle East's problems during commencement. He has much else to say. More important than Oren's politics and current role as ambassador, he represents academic excellence, rigorous research practices and fearlessly honest writing. Let the entire Brandeis community unite and aspire to that intellectual greatness, regardless of politics."

Brandeis President Yehudah Reinharz had this to say: "Frankly, I'm astonished by the fact that people think that they know what the political views of Dr. Oren are. If they would [read his work] they would actually learn what a great scholar he is." Reinharz said he hoped that "people at Brandeis have learned…to argue only after they have heard what the person has had to say, not in advance."

As a member of the extended Brandeis family, (my son and daughter-in-law both graduated from Brandeis and I once taught there), I am pleased to report such good news.

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