Brandeis & Oren - War Is Hell On The Homefront Too
05/06/2010 - 12:03
Jonathan Mark

Here's our coverage of the "Rage At Brandeis Over Invite To Oren."

I can understand (only to be polite) how someone from J Street can disagree with Ambassador Oren. But I can't respect that they won't fight for the ambassador's right to be heard. An op-ed by Jeremy Sherer, a secular Jew who heads the Brandeis J Street, illuminates a core characteristic of J Street -- a concern first and foremost with appeasing non-Jews and even borderline anti-Semites, rather than ever advocating for Jewish dignity -- the ambassador's or Israel's.

Brandeis has "Emet" in its university seal, so as Lenny Bruce would say, "This is the emes." J Street's claim that it is "a pro-Israel" advocacy group is simply Orwellian.  You're not "pro-Israel" -- you're an enemy of Israel -- if you're on the side of those who want to silence the ambassador and slander Israel in the process.

To too many secular J Streeters, Jewish dignity, values and pride are only valid in the service of  non-Jews. I have a hard time with leftist Jews who think Al Sharpton -- after Tawana Brawley and his incitement during the Crown Heights riot - is a legitimate leader in the Democrat party, Jews who argue that there was nothing disturbing about Obama's friendship with Rashid Khalidi and Jeremiah Wright, but who now say Michael Oren is "too divisive" to speak at Brandeis.  

Although these Jews are sympathetic to every racial, ethnic, and gender claim and demand, these Jews don't make any demands of their own, not even for the basic respect deserved by a representative of the Jewish State that the J Streeters claim to support. These J Streeters demand respect from other Jews but they will never stick up for another Jew, unless that Jew is to their left. The op-ed by the J Street student leader' at Brandeis is a pretty good example of that.

If this kid Sheret represents J Street and J Street represents "many American Jews," as J Street claims, than it speaks to American Jewry's decline and disgrace.

J Street claims to represent "many" Jews but many doesn't mean right. Fact is, Zionism started out as a minority position within the Jewish people and it didn't thrill "many Jews" until the 1940s when it was a done-deal. If supporters of Oren and Israel's right to build in Jerusalem are again in the minority, so be it. The Great Adventure of Zionism and Judaism has always been brought to you by people with the guts to be lonely,  

Here's an essential piece by Daniel Gordis on the Brandeis situation and the disgrace of J Street and the anti-Oren reaction.

Rabbi Haskel Lookstein is the opposite of J Street. He has been out front in defending the dignity of every Israeli government from left to right, welcoming and encouraging every Israeli ambassador since 1948. And it just so happens that Ambassador Oren may be the greatest ambassador of them all, other than Abba Eban.

(Check out Abba Eban versus Mike Wallace in 1958. That year was before any settlements, before any Green Line, before "occupied territory," before Israel built one singe apartment house in Obama's Jerusalem. What could possibly be standing in the way of peace? What could Mike Wallace possibly ask Eban? Light up a Parliament with Wallace and watch,)

Here is Rabbi Haskel Lookstein's letter (April 30) to his congregation: I removed the names of the Brandeis student and his parents to protect their privacy. 

Dear KJ Family,
I received a petition from [name of student], an alumnus of Ramaz, Class of 2008, and currently a student at Brandeis University. He is the son of [name of parents] and is clearly following in their footsteps of community activism and Israel advocacy.

The petition concerns an effort to oppose the decision of Brandeis' President to invite Israel Ambassador Michael Oren as the keynote speaker at the University's commencement exercises on May 23rd.
 
Here is the petition

We do not customarily circulate online petitions, but the opposition to Ambassador Oren mimics the kind of  shameful protests that he experienced while speaking in February at the University of California at Irvine:

Lovers of Israel and believers in fairness and free speech should join in opposing this assault on the State of Israel through embarrassing its Ambassador to the United States.  Evil will triumph if good people do nothing to stop it.  I urge you, therefore, to join me in electronically signing the petition supporting the Brandeis President's invitation to Ambassador Michael Oren:

Shabbat Shalom,
Haskel Lookstein

Phyllis Chesler tells us that the good guys are actually winning.

Maybe at Brandeis but not without a fight -- and that fight isn't over. And that fight isn't going so well in Canada's colleges or California's -- neither at Riverside, nor at San Diego nor at the aforementioned Irvine. But we didn't get this far by being afraid of a fight.

Victory on the eve of the Six Day War was not obvious, either, when parks in Jerusalem were being prepared as graveyards and Orthodox Jews were digging trenches on Shabbat. But 43 years later, in this week of Jerusalem's liberation (May 12 - Iyar 28), fighting the delegitimization of Israel on almost every college campus is easy by comparison and the least we can do.

People like Rabbi Lookstein don't use words like "evil" lightly but evil is exactly what we're up against. When it comes to Islamic fascism, as Ronald Reagan said of the Cold War, there is only one way for this to end -- we win, they lose. At Brandeis, we're winning but the flag is tattered . Everyone gets to pick the side they're on.

Comments

Hadar Susskind from J Street in DC did in fact welcome the invitation to Oren and distanced itself from Mr. Sherer's remarks, a fact you conveniently omitted in your diatribe. Reasonable people can differ on Mr. Oren as a spokesperson...what is undeniable is that he has been controversial. There are certainly those who support Israel who have been offended by Mr. Oren. What is ludicrous is Haskel Lookstein's comparison of the Brandeis protesters to "evil" or to the crowd at Cal Irvine. Doesn't he know that Brandeis has many with a strong Jewish identity, including those who have been to Israel and love it, who may have strong differences with some of what Mr. Oren has said and done in his tenure? It is shocking that you are condoning the tone of Rabbi Lookstein's appeal. It is outrageous.
The leader of J Street at Brandeis, in fact, did not welcome the invitation to Oren, as can be seen in the article by Sherer that's linked above. -- JM

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