In response to my article yesterday, "[Brandeis University President Jehuda] Reinharz, Israel and Me," President Jehuda Reinharz sent this form letter today to those who wrote him on my behalf:
I am writing in response to your email concerning the article posted by Professor Daniel Pipes on the Internet, based on an article that appeared in a Brandeis student newspaper, concerning a statement that I allegedly made at a Faculty Meeting.
First, I never mentioned or even alluded to either Professor Pipes or Professor Finkelstein. I never have nor would I ever liken Professor Pipes to Professor Finkelstein. What I did say was that I did not want to see Brandeis University become a battleground of the Middle East. I expressed concern that, in the wake of the visit to campus by President Jimmy Carter, I hoped that people would not focus on bringing speakers to campus solely for the purpose of scoring points or declaring "victory" over other members of the community, who hold differing views. I pointed out that there are ample resources among the Brandeis faculty, including experts on Israel, Palestine, Iraq, Iran, Islam, and the Middle East generally, who can discuss issues of the Middle East in a scholarly and civil manner.
The linkage between Professor Pipes and Professor Finkelstein was made by the student newspaper, which acted on its own. Neither the student newspaper, the Justice, nor any of the mainstream media, which took the story directly from the student newspaper, nor for that matter Professor Pipes, bothered to check their facts with me.
Some have also raised a concern about a delay in a talk at Brandeis by Professor Pipes. Neither anyone in the President's Office nor I has had anything to do with this matter. Following the visit by President Carter, numerous student groups have been submitting proposals for speakers to visit campus. The Dean of Student Life has established a student-faculty-staff committee, under the chairmanship of the Student Union President, to coordinate and sort through the various requests for speakers dealing with the Middle East.
Few colleges or universities in the United States have done as much as Brandeis has done to raise the level of scholarship about Israel or to encourage informed and civil discourse about the problems and issues of the Middle East, broadly defined.
(February 14, 2007)
Feb. 16, 2006 update: John Hose has sent out this form letter:
President Reinharz has forwarded to me a copy of your email of this same title to which I am responding. I make no comparison between Dr. Pipes and Dr. Finkelstein. The story in the Justice does not accurately reflect my conversation with the student reporter, who came to see me to get clarification regarding President Reinharz's comments at the Faculty Meeting. I said that I wasn't at the meeting, but that I thought his remarks were directed to the apparent eagerness of some students and at least one faculty member to invite to campus, in the wake of President Carter's visit, speakers whose primary purpose is to inflame passions rather than engage in scholarly discussion. In drawing a distinction between speakers "for show" and speakers for serious discussion, I did not name anyone in particular. I did not compare Professor Pipes to Professor Finkelstein, though I did mention that Dr. Pipes has spoken on campus previously, and therefore would not be a new visitor to Brandeis.
I also told the student reporter that I thought there were many experts among the Brandeis faculty, who can speak in an informed way about the Middle East, Islam and the issues that Mr. Carter raised. I said it was my opinion that, since the Middle East raises strong emotions, scholarly and civil discussion is especially important, whether led by on-campus or off-campus speakers.
Feb. 17, 2006 update: I today posted "Brandeis President Jehuda Reinharz and I Exchange Letters," bringing this story to a close.
Related Topics: Academia, Arab-Israeli debate in the U.S., Daniel Pipes autobiographical
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