Brandeis Faculty’s Anti-Israel E-mails Exposed

by Molly Wharton

Brandeis University was founded to “embody its highest ethical and cultural values and to express its gratitude to the United States through the traditional Jewish commitment to education,” according to its mission statement. But recently uncovered e-mails between faculty members expressing their express their disdain for the United States and Israel cast doubt on its commitment to that mission. 

Brandeis student Daniel Mael uncovered an internal faculty listserv that contains e-mails with hateful anti-Israel language and attacks on the school’s Jewish leadership. Mael exposed portions of the listserv on Tuesday, and the Washington Free Beacon has since gotten ahold of more of the e-mails from tenured faculty members. 

The secret Brandeis faculty listserv, entitled “Concerned,” was started in 2002 “out of concern about possible war with Iraq, and it now has 92 subscribers. When women’s-rights activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali was to receive an honorary degree from the university, 87 Brandeis professors signed a petition in protest. On the listserv, they expressed their outrage. “She’s 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, ‘Islamofascism’ — which has died on the vine even of the new European right wing,” Brandeis English professor Mary Baine Campbell wrote. 

The listserv has also been host to anti-Israel rhetoric, especially recently with the Israel–Gaza conflict.

After the Hamas kidnapping of three Israeli teens, Professor Donald Hindley expressed his lack of concern with what Hamas had done, instead condemning the “Vile, Terrorist Israeli Government.”

Back in 2007, he wrote: “Zionist olive trees grow wondrously on Palestinian corpses. In that way, we combine great trees with our own holocaustic ethnic cleansing.”

In yet another e-mail, with the subject line “Israel and Our Organs,” Hindley noted that if he were to die, Israel would take his organs, which would be “of use to His people, recycled as (non-Kosher, I hope but money does corrupt us all, as witness the Jewish Orthodox occupiers of Palestinian territory) sausages-frankfurters-weenies-erstwhile hot dogs.”

Also popular on the listserv are slurs against the school’s Jewish leadership. Former University president Jehuda Reinharz  and his wife are referred to as “Mein Leader and Frau.” Hindley refers to the couple as “schwartzes,” a derogatory Yiddish term for black people, in an e-mail from 2010.  

According to the Daily Caller, almost all of the professors on this list express their support for the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions campaign against Israel.

In a 2013 e-mail, physics professor Bob Lange wrote that the Benghazi attacks were “not terrorism.” He explained, “It is not terrorism to kill representatives of a government that you are opposed to.” Bringing the conversation back to Israel, he noted, “If an Israeli soldier protecting a settlement is killed by Palestinian militants, it is not terrorism.”  

One professor, Doran Ben-Atar, eventually became disillusioned with the listserv. In April, he wrote, “Let’s not be disingenuous. You guys hate Israel. that’s what united the gruop. That’s why is was founded.”

The Free Beacon spoke with Brandeis officials who tried to distance themselves from the listserv.

“The opinions expressed by individual faculty members do not reflect the opinions of Brandeis University,” the university’s senior vice president for communications Ellen de Graffenreid said in a statement. Graffenreid confirmed that Brandeis faculty do have rights to free speech and academic freedom. 

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