Fox Slams 'anti-Israel Bias' at Brandeis University

President of the University, which was established in 1948 by American Jews, distances himself from leaked messages by faculty members.

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On the day it opened, Brandeis had 107 students and 13 faculty members.
On the day it opened, Brandeis had 107 students and 13 faculty members.Credit: Brandeis University website

Boston's Brandeis University may have been founded by American Jews, but it has become a hothouse of anti-Israel sentiment, according to Fox News.

The TV news channel was referring to thousands of electronic messages from Brandeis faculty that were obtained and published by conservative students.

The messages, which were distributed to academics on a closed mailing list known as a ListServ, "reveal a long-standing and vehement anti-Israel bias and anger at Fox News and a human rights advocate who renounced her Muslim faith," according to Fox.

The messages, Fox continues, "were hyperbolic in their condemnation of Israel, regarding the recent fighting in Gaza and prior conflicts with the Palestinians." They also include "accusations that Israel has committed war crimes and 'holocaustic ethnic cleansing' against Palestinians," Fox says.

It quotes one message, in which Brandeis Professor of Sociology Gordon Fellman reportedly urged Israeli academics to sign an open letter to “end the illegal occupation in Palestine.” The letter states that “the government of Israel, having provoked the firing of rockets by its rampage through the West Bank, is now using that response as the pretext for an aerial assault on Gaza which has already cost scores of lives.”

It goes on to note that “an atmosphere of hysteria is being deliberately provoked in Israel, and whole communities are being subject to collective punishment, a war crime.”

Fox comments that the "one-sided view of the Middle East is not new at the school, founded in 1948, the same year Israel was established, with funding from the American Jewish community."

The ListServ in question, titled “Concerned,” was started by faculty members in 2002 “out of concern about possible war with Iraq.” It has more than 90 subscribers and is used to correspond about current news, Israel, Jewish people, America and world affairs in general.

The messages also include attacks on Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a human rights activist who survived genital mutilation as a child in Somalia, renounced her Muslim faith and now crusades against radical Islam, Fox writes. Ali was slated to receive an honorary doctorate at Brandeis in April before the ceremony was canceled amid campus protests.

Fox quotes a message from Brandeis Professor of English Mary Baine Campbell, who apparently described Ali as “an ignorant, ultra-right-wing extremist, abusively, shockingly vocal in her hatred for Muslim culture and Muslims, a purveyor of the dangerous and imaginary concept, born of European distaste for the influx of immigrants from its former colonies… To call her a ‘woman’s rights activist’ is like calling Squeaky Fromm an environmentalist.’”

Brandeis president Frederick Lawrence commented: “While we maintain our staunch support of freedom of expression and academic inquiry, some remarks by an extremely small cohort of Brandeis faculty members are abhorrent. Such statements, which include anti-Semitic epithets, personal attacks, denigration of the Catholic faith and the use of crude and vulgar terms in discussions about Israel, do not represent the Brandeis community,” he wrote. “I condemn these statements under no uncertain terms.”

Not all the participants on the ListServ agreed with the sentiments expressed, according to Fox. “Let’s not be disingenuous. You guys hate Israel. That’s what unites the group. That’s why it was founded,” wrote Doron Ben-Atar, a professor of history at the New York-based Fordham University, earlier this year.

“You support BDS and circulate their petitions – a movement led by Omar Barghouti who not only declared that Israel has no right to exist, but has told a group in San Diego a few months back that Israeli soldiers use Palestinian children for spot target practice and that they use their body parts… I think when progressives lose their center and align with bizarre Islamist groups we are all worse off.”

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