Despite vicious opposition from the Alan Dershowitz conservative wing of the American Jewish community, Cardoza Law School honored former President Jimmy Carter this week for his career of work on peace and conflict resolution.
The International Advocate for Peace award was given to Carter by the student-run Cardoza Journal of Conflict Resolution.
The journal cited "Carter's brokering of the 1979 peace accord between Israel and Egypt and the SALT II nuclear weapons treaty with the then-Soviet Union."
The presentation ceremony was held at the Cardoza Law School, a part of New York City's Yeshiva University.
Since it began as a university more than a century ago, Yeshiva, according to its website, "has been dedicated to melding the ancient traditions of Jewish law and life with the heritage of Western civilization."
With that tradition, Yeshiva University was hardly an institution the Dershowitz radical wing of American Jewry, expected to honor Jimmy Carter. The Cardoza Law School took its name, at the time of its 1976 founding, in honor of Supreme Court Justice Benjamin N. Cardoza (1870-1938).
The loudest protest voice leading the demand that the school "withdraw" Carter's award, came from Professor Dershowitz, a law professor at Harvard University since 1967.
Dershowitz seldom misses an opportunity to demand that Carter confront him in a "public debate" on any campus where Carter is invited to appear.
The Wikipedia page on Dershowitz gives some of "that debate that did not happen" history:
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"When former U.S. President Jimmy Carter had his book Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid (2006) published -- in which he argues that Israel's control of Palestinian land is the primary obstacle to peace -- Dershowitz challenged Carter to a debate at Brandeis University.
"Carter declined, saying, 'I don't want to have a conversation, even indirectly, with Dershowitz. There is no need to debate somebody who, in my opinion, knows nothing about the situation in Palestine.'"
Dershowitz repeated his demand for a debate when Carter spoke at Brandeis in January 2007. Brandeis refused to invite Dershowitz to debate Carter, but the school did invite him to respond to Carter on the "same stage" after Carter had left.
USA Today reported that the award presentation "has drawn a harsh response from alumni, who called on graduates to withhold donations to the school."
Confronted with this usual tactic of alumni opposition to a university decision, the Cardoza Law School leaders stood their ground and continued to support the award.
"Yeshiva's president, Richard Joel, and the university's board of overseers, said in statements that they object to Carter's views on Israel, but that the university is a 'free marketplace of ideas,' as Joel put it, and the students had the right to invite the former president."