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A Tale of Two Campuses
May 31, 2010 by Shalom Berger

Once again, it is that time of year. Three of my children are graduating from school in the coming weeks, as are thousands of other young people who are proudly reflecting on the accomplishments of years of formal schooling.

Who is speaking at your school's graduation? If Michael Oren, the Israeli ambassador to America were available, would you invite him?

Interestingly, two institutions of higher learning with Jewish roots - Brandeis University and Yeshiva University - both invited Ambassador Oren to speak. At BrandeisUniversity his announced appearance on campus was greeted with petitions and editorials protesting the invitation, led, to a large extent, by Jewish students on campus.

At YeshivaUniversity, the student body appears to have been pleased with having the opportunity for a distinguished representative of the State of Israel address them at their commencement.

Why do two groups of students who are largely products of the same cultural environment have such radically different reactions to the Israeli ambassador?

Let's try multiple choice:

  1. Brandeis students are more sensitive to social justice issues
  2. YU students have stronger personal connections with Israel
  3. Orthodox Jews always support Israel
  4. All (or none) of the above

So…

Would you invite Ambassador Oren to your school's graduation?

Would your children protest?

Why (not)?