Commencement was supposed to be about us.

However, with the selection of Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren, commencement has been hijacked to serve as part of a debate about Middle Eastern politics. Whether this was the intention is not important: in our eyes and the eyes of the world, Brandeis commencement is a stage for partisan politics, not a celebration of graduating seniors.

We, students, faculty, staff, friends and family of Brandeis University, respectfully believe that the choice of Ambassador Michael Oren as commencement speaker is inappropriate. His far-right views are divisive and do not reflect the diversity of opinion on campus, and moreover politicize what should be an uncontroversial, inclusive role.

Read the rest, and sign the petition!

EDIT: You should also join our Facebook group, Commencement Was Supposed to Be About Us: Against Michael Oren as Speaker.

15 comments on “Take Action: Oppose Michael Oren as Commencement Speaker!”

  1. Emily Says:

    Michael Oren represents a country, not a particular set of political opinions. He was invited to Brandeis because he is a respectable academic scholar who has written two renowned and unbiased histories of the Middle East. He is not a politician, he is a representative. He represents Israel as a sovereign nation, not the political beliefs its politicians.

    I am a liberal and generally a big fan of Innermost Parts, but this petition I believe is inappropriate. Liberalism is about respect for all, not about antagonism and opposition against everything. Legitimate opposition to Israel’s politices in the occupied territories involves objecting to the politicians who design those policies. Oren is not that person, he is a representative of all Israelis: liberals, conservatives, religious, secular, Palestinian Israelis, etc. By objecting to his invitation to Brandeis, you are jumping in the same boat as those who believe Israel does not have a legitimate right to exist. That is not a message of liberalis, that’s a message of hate.

    If you want brandeis to be diverse, you have to respect people with different ideas than your own.

  2. Comrade Says:

    @Emily

    There are so many people in the world that are in line with Brandeis’ values and would probably appreciate an honorary degree from our institution. Almost all of them probably have nothing at all to do with the conflict. Those that selected Oren to be both an honorary degree recipient and the commencement speaker had to go out of their way to find someone dealing with the conflict.

    Why? Why have our last experiences of Brandeis be politicized? Why have them be about the conflict? The conflict is already the ever-present elephant in the room and the un-ending conversation at Brandeis, and we’ve just spent four years dealing with it.

    It is not a message of hate to not want to have Oren as the commencement speaker.

  3. Anonymous Says:

    I wonder, would an invitation to a speaker with far-leftist views be this “divisive” and cause such outrage?

  4. NathanJRobinson Says:

    Yes, a far-leftist speaker could be just as divisive, ESPECIALLY if the speaker was connected to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I don’t think that hornet’s nest should be poked by anyone on either side at commencement.

  5. NathanJRobinson Says:

    (I misplaced an apostrophe in my previous comment. Apologies.)

  6. art Says:

    I see what you’re saying Comrade. That he was involved with the conflict is secondary to his character and “identity”. He is Michael Oren, Chief Orchestrator of The Palestinian Suppression-yes, he was in the government during the time of this conflict. He is no more a part of it than a US governer whose term coincided with Iraq is a part of that conflict

  7. Dani B. Says:

    I think that it is blogs like this that are politicizing this speaker and detracting from student accomplishments to serve their political ends.

  8. Liz Rubin Says:

    I think the issue with Oren as a speaker is not that he is a political figure with particular views, but rather than he ISN’T Paul Famer. I am shocked Brandeis would invite one of the greatest health care humanitarians of the century to commencement and not ask him to be the speaker. If Brandeis wants so badly to be perceived as a school focused on social justice, and not not just a “jewish school” (a stereotype I’m sure many of us have run in to) perhaps Farmer would have been a better choice for everyone.

  9. Sahar Says:

    What Liz said

  10. Lev Says:

    I get the feeling that all these people criticizing our protest on the grounds that we are CREATING divisiveness, or that we should welcome the controversy – I get the feeling that they would feel quite differently if Brandeis had invited Norm Finkelstein to give the commencement address.

    Am I wrong?

    Tell me graduating seniors from BZA, how would you feel if Brandeis invited Norm Finkelstein to give the commencement address? Would you protest?

    Now you might understand how we feel.

  11. art Says:

    I think Finkelstein is a little more controversial. That said, yes, there is a parallel there.

  12. IBS Says:

    There is an option to not attend graduation and just receive diploma.
    If you are so upset with Brandeis, transfer to another college and get a degree there.
    Now quit all the ridiculous debates; a good % of Brandeis students don’t know or care who either these Oren or Famer individuals are.

  13. Emily Says:

    If the ambassador of any other country were coming, would you protest?

  14. Lev Says:

    Depends on the country.

    Depends on the ambassador.

  15. Dominic Says:

    It’s time to look in the mirror, children.

    Practice what you preach: tolerance and open mindedness.

    The world is watching you and how you behave on Sunday.
    Keep your politics to yourself and don’t ruin it for everyone. For not everyone thinks as you do.