Brandeis Debates Israeli Ambassador as Graduation Speaker

April 28, 2010

Brandeis University is seeing debate over the selection of Michael B. Oren, Israel's ambassador to the United States, as commencement speaker. The university's announcement of the choice noted that Oren -- whose recent talk at the University of California at Irvine was interrupted repeatedly, setting off a debate on free speech -- has been both a scholar and a diplomat. An editorial in The Justice, the student newspaper, said, "Although under different circumstances he could have been a fascinating speaker to bring to the campus, Mr. Oren is a divisive and inappropriate choice for keynote speaker at commencement, and we disapprove of the University's decision to grant someone of his polarity on this campus that honor. For the administration, Mr. Oren's invitation constitutes at best naiveté and at worst disregard concerning the reality of the range of student political orientation on this campus." Others writing in the paper have noted that Oren is likely to draw protests, detracting from graduation day. Still others have written in support of the selection, with one column saying that he is worthy to address graduates because of his "academic excellence, rigorous research practices and fearlessly honest writing."

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