Brandeis just says no, Emory professors miffed with Carter

On the heels of the announcement that some of its biggest donors are withdrawing funds “as revenge” for hosting Jimmy Carter, the Forward now reports that Brandeis appears to be just saying no to all Israel-Palestine speakers it considers controversial.

This includes denying permission to a student group to bring Holocaust Industry critic and Alan Dershowitz gadfly Norman Finkelstein, and, from the opposite end of the political spectrum, putting “on hold a visit from Daniel Pipes, a hawkish pro-Israel advocate who keeps tabs on Islamic fundamentalist groups.”

This represents a move in the opposite direction for Brandeis which recently made an admirable gesture towards open dialogue by launching this public blog about Carter’s visit.

Meanwhile, nine professors at Emory University have written a public letter protesting what they regard as Jimmy Carter’s refusal to debate his book on campus.

“We are happy that Jimmy Carter wants to come to Emory,” said Deborah E. Lipstadt, the Dorot Professor of Modern Jewish and Holocaust Studies, and a signer of the letter. “But we think it should be an exchange of ideas, not a one-sided presentation. We felt that this is not up to the standards of Emory in terms of creative inquiry.”

Earl Lewis, Emory’s provost, said Carter speaks on Emory campus at least once a month in someone’s class. Annually, he holds a town hall discussion on campus. Lewis said the Feb. 22 event will follow the town hall format that Emory has done for years.

He objected to claims that allowing Carter to speak and answer submitted questions was not academically challenging.

“I am not sure I agree with that,” Lewis said. “It is not unusual, in any context, for someone who may have written a book that is controversial, to come speak on that book. We all would love to engage President Carter. But this is an opportunity for him to talk about his book.”

Lewis said that Carter would speak for about 15 minutes, and then answer questions that have been submitted by students. Lewis said the university has not ruled out a possible debate in the future.

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