The following open letter was sent on April 9th to the Board of Overseers of Cardozo Law School:
Ladies and Gentlemen:
As esteemed members of the Board of Overseers of The Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, we are writing to you on behalf of The Coalition of Concerned Cardozo Alumni who are appalled to learn that President Jimmy Carter is scheduled to receive the International Advocate for Peace Award from the Cardozo Journal of Conflict Resolution on Wednesday, April 10th. We beg your indulgence that you read this letter to the end.
One can only assume that by taking the time to serve on the Board, you take great pride in your affiliation with such a reputable institution and one whose mission is, in part, to “bring wisdom to life by combining the finest contemporary academic education with the timeless teachings of Torah.” While we all may interpret those words slightly differently, Jimmy Carter is anathema to the aspirations of the Jewish people and the survival of the State of Israel. Honoring him at a bedrock of the American Jewish community does not bring wisdom to life or combine a fine education with the teachings of Torah. Honoring Jimmy Carter makes the statement that, notwithstanding the empty claims by the administration that the Journal’s choice does not necessarily represent the views of the institution, this individual is someone deserving of recognition. Awarding this honor to someone with Carter’s anti-Israel record that includes whitewashing the genocidal aims of Hamas, mainstreaming the notion that Israel is a racist state, and validating a nuclear Iran is quite simply abhorrent.
While the Yeshiva University and Cardozo administrators are hiding behind the veil of First Amendment rights and academic freedom, as proud members of the Cardozo community, we beseech you to do the right thing and make your voices heard. The issue at hand is not one requiring righteous people to worship the false idols of free speech at the expense of Jewish values and principles. As we end our observance of Yom HaShoah, we must face the lessons that well-intentioned European Jews also respected the rights of their fellow citizens to voice ugly thoughts and protest their very existence. But silence is complicity and “Never Again” requires learning from the lessons of the tragedies that befell the Jewish people. Antisemitism, whitewashing terrorists who seek to destroy the Jewish homeland, and lies and distortions based on personal and dangerous biases are all qualities that define the post-presidential Jimmy Carter. Yeshiva University and Cardozo should not give a platform to his slander while at the same time granting credibility to his disingenuous and repugnant positions.
Along with the honor and pride that emanates from your role as Board members it is your individual responsibilities to ensure that the school’s faculty and administrators make decisions that represent the values that you wish to not only endow to the student body but also those that you wish to see reflected in the community. The extensive media attention that this award has drawn has been entirely negative and the Board bears the ultimate responsibility for any impact that this will have on the school’s reputation both in the near future and the long-term. Alumni will not continue to support an institution that so blatantly ignores the principles on which it was founded and which so willingly and callously slaps in the face the people who form the very foundation of its future success.
We have established a website that reflects the positions of a diverse body of Cardozo alumni and that urges all members of the Cardozo community to speak out against this misguided choice of award recipient and dangerous precedent that will be set if it is not rescinded.
We therefore urge you to prevail upon the administration and rescind the honor that Cardozo intends to bestow upon Jimmy Carter. We believe this is one of the most important decisions that you will make during your tenure as a member of the Board and we hope that you will not make it lightly, that you will balance the competing values with which you are presented in the context of the history of the Jewish people and teachings of the Torah generally, and that you will uphold Cardozo’s mission and in fact bring wisdom to life.
Gary Emmanuel ’04,
on behalf of The Coalition of Concerned Cardozo Alumni