Brandeis Defunded by Rich Likudniks
Super-wealthy donors have retaliated against Brandeis University for inviting former president Jimmy Carter to speak on campus in connection with his book on Israeli Apartheid in the West Bank. They said they will withold further donations to the school.
The president of Brandeis, Jehuda Reinharz, once commented on Middle East Centers at major American universities, saying, “My problem is not the anti-Zionism or even that many of them are anti-American, but that they are third-rate.” Why exactly should he judge their scholarship by whether or not they are Zionists? Does everyone have to be a Zionist? As for the Red-baiting and vague, general put-down of the works of other academics, it is too despicable for words. Reinharz notoriously thought well of the “scholarship” of Joan Peters, whose “From Time Immemorial” was dismissed by Israeli historian Yehoshua Porath as a forgery.
So I have to say it is delicious that Reinharz himself is now having the economic plug pulled on him by rich old bullies who think, by virtue of his invitation to Jimmy Carter, that he is anti-Zionist, anti-American and third rate.
Carter’s book, by the way, is mostly just Christian Zionism. It ignores 1400 years of Muslim history in Palestine and Jerusalem, accepts Peters’s false thesis of significant in-migration of Arabs in the interwar period, and only dares raise some timid protests about the execrable treatment of the Palestinians in the Occupied Territories by Israeli occupiers and colonists.
If even Carter can’t protest even this much without causing a whole university to be defunded, then there is something radically wrong with higher education in the United States. And what is wrong with it has nothing to do with the (quite high) standard of scholarship in Middle Eastern studies. It has to do with radical intolerance of any views that depart from a rightwing Zionist orthodoxy, and a willingness by upholders of that orthodoxy to deploy big money to punish anyone or any institution that departs from it.
By the way, I have several friends on the Brandeis faculty, and their academic scholarship is first-rate. I hope they can go on enlightening us. Scholarship, pace Reinharz, is not a zero sum game. We are all enriched by the work of good scholars everywhere.