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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Peretz letter to be sent despite apology

Published: September 17, 2010
Section: News

Members of the Brandeis community this week signed a petition protesting a column Brandeis Alumna Marty Peretz ’59 published in a New Republic blog Sept. 4. The organizers of the petition still intend to send the signed letter to the magazine’s offices, despite Peretz’ Sept. 13 apology on a New Republic blog.

Peretz, who is editor-in-chief of the magazine wrote his column about why he is opposed to the construction of the Muslim community on the now famous Plot51 in New York City.

He concluded his column writing, “Frankly, Muslim life is cheap, most notably to Muslims. And among those Muslims led by the Imam Rauf there is hardly one who has raised a fuss about the routine and random bloodshed that defines their brotherhood. So, yes, I wonder whether I need honor these people and pretend that they are worthy of the privileges of the First Amendment which I have in my gut the sense that they will abuse.”

Sahar Massachi ’11 and Adam Hughes ’11 took offense to Peretz’ column and drafted an open letter from the Brandies community to Peretz.

“Your recent remarks are appalling, and do not reflect the values of the broader Brandeis community,” the letter reads. “For better or worse, your actions reflect on us. Brandeis University stands for love, not hate. Brandeis stands for respecting the truth. Brandeis stands for recognizing the humanity in others. We value our Muslim community members here; they are part of our broad family.”

Massachi said in an interview with The Hoot that Peretz committed two transgressions in his column; “the value judgement of Muslim life and his idea that freedom of worship does not apply to all Americans.”

While Peretz’ apology early this week retracted his statement regarding the first amendment, the Brandies alumn maintained “the other sentence … ‘Frankly, Muslim life is cheap, especially for Muslims’ … is a statement of fact, not value,” citing various wars in the Middle East.

Because of this, Massachi said he and Hughes will still send the letter to Peretz.

“It was a bigoted statement,” Massachi said. “I’m not saying he’s a bigoted person, I don’t want to define his soul, but what he said is deeply offensive to me as a human being.”

Brandeis student Union President Daniel Acheampong ’11 wrote in a press release that the union “believe[s] this incident, rather than being a wholly negative experience, can be used as a jumping off point for a discussion of multiculturalism and prejudice.”

Massachi said it is the Brandeis community’s responsibility to “speak the uncomfortable truth” to its members who act inapporpriately.

“Peretz is a member of the community, he’s one of us,” Massachi said. “The whole point of the letter is to say ‘dear community member, we feel like you are family, and as your family we disagree with what you did.’”