Yeshiva University embroiled in controversy over award for Carter
Yeshiva University’s Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law is roiling from a controversial decision by a student committee to bestow the International Advocate for Peace Award to former President Jimmy Carter.
The law school’s Student Journal for Conflict Resolution selected Carter to receive the award on Wednesday because of his many lifetime achievements including reaching the historic Camp David Accords in 1979 with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and Israel Prime Minister Menachem Begin.
Although the committee made its selection some time ago, the award ceremony to be held at the law school was not announced until Monday. It immediately unleashed a wave of discontent and protest at Yeshiva University, the nation’s largest Orthodox university.
A “Shame on Cardozo” website was created by a group calling themselves the Coalition for Concerned Cardozo Alumni in order to ramp up the protest.
“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,” wrote Gary Emmanuel, a Cardozo graduate from 2004.
Meanwhile, university president Richard M. Joel issued a statement that supported the students’ decision, but noted the initiative comes from the student journal and “not of Yeshiva Univesity or the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law.” Joel went on to personally distance himself from many of Carter’s recent statements equating Israel’s policies towards the occupied West Bank and Gaza with apartheid.
It has been reported that some alumni are so outraged that they have promised to block Carter’s entry into the building on Wednesday. Many others have threatened to cease further funding of the university over the incident.
The Student Journal for Conflict Resolution, considered one of the nation’s leading publications in dispute resolution, has previously bestowed its International Advocate for Peace Award to Peace Award to political leaders President Bill Clinton, Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, Senator George Mitchell, and Ambassador Dennis Ross as well as human rights activists Archbishop Desmond Tutu, John Wallach and Seeds of Peace, Betty Murngi and playwright Eve Ensler.
Abigail Disney was the recipient of the award in 2011. The granddaughter of Roy O. Disney, the co-founder the Walt Disney Company with his cartoonist brother Walt, Disney made news last year when she renounced her share of the profits from her family’s investment in the Ahava line of cosmetics. Ahava, whose main factory is located in the West Bank, has been singled out as a target for boycotts because of its suggested exploitation of Palestinian resources.