There are things that Brandeis University finds acceptable. And things that it finds unacceptable.
After facing growing pressure from faculty members, students, and an outside Muslim advocacy group, Brandeis University said Tuesday that it is rescinding its decision to award an honorary degree to Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a women’s rights activist and critic of Islam, over her “past statements that are inconsistent with Brandeis University’s core values.”
But in light of the school’s past decisions to honor American playwright and screenwriter Tony Kushner and South African Bishop Desmond Tutu, who have both made anti-Israel or anti-Semitic remarks, some are now accusing Brandeis of applying a double standard over the move to rescind Hirsi Ali’s honor for her remarks on Islam.
In a 2004 interview with Haaretz, Kushner called the creation of Israel a “mistake.” Yet in 2006, former Brandeis president Jehuda Reinharz defended Kushner’s honorary degree, saying, “Just as Brandeis does not inquire into the political opinions and beliefs of faculty or staff before appointing them, or students before offering admission, so too the university does not select honorary degree recipients on the basis of their political beliefs or opinions.” At the time, a prominent campaign led by the Zionist Organization of America and other Jewish groups called on Brandeis to pull Kushner’s honor, to no avail.
“That Brandeis withstood Zionist unhappiness in 2006, and went ahead to award an honorary degree to Tony Kushner, points to who today really has power in the United States—and even in the Jewish community,” Middle East Forum President Dr. Daniel Pipes, whose daughter attended Brandeis, told JNS.org on Wednesday.
Born in Somalia to a strict Muslim family and raised in Kenya, Hirsi Ali survived civil war, female genital mutilation, abuse, and an arranged marriage. She fled to the Netherlands in the early 1990s.
The left celebrates attacks on Israel and Judaism, but rejects any criticism of Islam and the Muslim world. And it should be called out for that hypocrisy.
Unlike Kushner, Ali has suffered for her beliefs. She’s a genuinely courageous individual who has faced odds that Kushner could not begin to imagine.
Yet to the left, Kushner is a hero because he hates America and Israel, while Ali is a villain because she tells the truth about the religion she left.