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April 8, 2015 12:30 pm

Brandeis U. Questioned Over Commencement Speaker Pickering’s Remarks on Israel

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Brandeis University is under fire for choosing Thomas Pickering as its commencement speaker. Photo: State Department.

JNS.org – Brandeis University is being questioned for its selection of former US ambassador Thomas Pickering as commencement speaker due to his controversial remarks on Israel.

Pickering served for more than four decades as a US diplomat, with his last position as undersecretary of state for political affairs. He also served as America’s ambassador to the United Nations, the Russian Federation, India, Israel and Jordan.

In an op-ed he co-wrote last year for Politico, Pickering called Israel’s presence in the disputed territories an “illegal land grab” and urged the Obama administration to take a tougher stand against Israel on that issue. More recently, Pickering joined more than 50 foreign policy experts who applauded the Obama administration for the recently reached framework nuclear deal with Iran and called on Congress to hold off on reviewing the deal. The Israeli government and many American pro-Israel advocates are opposed to the Iran deal and supportive of Congressional oversight of the agreement.

Brandeis’s choice of Pickering follows the Jewish-sponsored university’s controversial decision last year to rescind an honorary degree it had planned to give Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a women’s rights activist and critic of Islamic extremism, due to her statements about Islam.

Lori Lowenthal Marcus, the US correspondent for The Jewish Presswrote that Pickering has a “reputation of being extremely anti-Israel even amongst his peers” and that the university’s commencement speaker selection fails to uphold the values of the its namesake, former Supreme Court Justice Louis D. Brandeis.

“If Justice Louis Dembitz Brandeis, the ardent Zionist and advocate for the disenfranchised…could see what his namesake university was doing, he would demand his name be removed,” wrote Marcus.

Despite some of Pickering’s controversial positions on Israel, he was an outspoken opponent of the UN’s “Zionism is Racism” resolution and played a role in getting that resolution repealed while he served as US ambassador to the UN under President George H.W. Bush.

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  • Bill Pearlman

    Looking at this guy and his record. Looks like the perfect pick for Brandeis

  • Robert Goldman

    Brandeis has become a prisoner of destructive political correctness. What an embarrassment that an institution with strong Jewish roots has become a hot bed of anti-Israel, anti-Jewish shenanigans. Justice Brandeis would be so ashamed of the cowardly and confused university that bears his name. Creepy.

  • Just Common Sense

    Let’s not jump to conclusions! Maybe the Brandeis University officials who invited this creep have Alzheimer’s. That would certainly explain things!

  • E Pluribus Wombat

    Brandeis may very well be one of the first 5 US universities to demand its own Jewish enrollment be expelled.

    • American

      The same way Apartheid Israel is expelling Palestinians from their own homes? 🙂

      • ted weiss

        not enaugh american your familly is still there and being as antisemitc as you putz .
        you hate israel no matter what . its crime in your eyes is survival so go to hell and dont come back pali racist jerk

  • Steve Loeb

    If they would dinette Ayaan Hirsi Ali, they can disinvite Pickering

    • Steve Loeb

      If they would disinvite Ayaan Hirsi Ali, they can disinvite Pickering