To the Editor:

This past week, rather than deescalating the tensions which have arisen on the Brandeis University campus in reaction to the Hamas attack on Israel and the Israeli war on Gaza, University President Ron Liebowitz further enflamed the situation by calling the Waltham city police to the Brandeis campus, where they ordered students to end a peaceful protest rally, and then arrested seven people.

Appalled that the President of a university named for Justice Louis Brandeis — the great advocate of free speech — would ban free speech on campus, Brandeis alumni have sent President Liebowitz the following letter:

To: Ronald Liebowitz, President, Brandeis University; Board of Trustees; Andrea Dine, Vice-President of Student Affairs; Faculty Representatives to the Board

We, the undersigned alumni of Brandeis University, are writing to express our dismay at your recent action in de-recognizing the Brandeis Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP).

The recent Hamas attack on Israeli citizens and the ongoing attack on Gaza by the Israeli Defense Forces have shaken us to the core, as has the growing repression of free expression inside Israel. (See Michael Sfard’s Op-Ed in the NYT Times, “Israel is Silencing Internal Critics.”). But we are appalled that the president of a University named for Justice Louis Brandeis would also inhibit free speech.

Justice Brandeis famously said that:

“To justify suppression of free speech there must be reasonable ground to fear that serious evil will result if free speech is practiced. There must be reasonable ground to believe that the danger apprehended is imminent.” (Whitney v. California 274 U.S. 357 (1927))

One does not have to agree with the statements of the Brandeis SJP as reported in The Boston Globe, to conclude that their declarations presented no reasonable ground to fear that “serious evil [would] result if [their] free speech [was] practiced,” or that any danger was so “imminent” that it might justify de-recognition.

Your letter of Nov 8 seeks to rationalize your actions by implying that statements by the Brandeis SJP were “a genuine threat or harassment.” The letter then concludes: “A commitment to openness is one of Brandeis’ founding values, but that openness is challenged when speech is used to intimidate and silence others.” But that is exactly what your de-recognition of the SJP has done. Your actions are inimical to the central tenet of Justice Brandeis’ views:  

“If there be time to expose through discussion the falsehood and fallacies, to avert the evil by the processes of education, the remedy to be applied is more speech, not enforced silence.”

We are ashamed that the president of our alma mater has trampled upon the most precious legacy of Brandeis — both the man and the University.


Emily Paradise Achtenberg ’65

Rawda Aljawhary, ’15

Judy Allen ’67

Jeanne Baker ’61-’63

Anne Bernstein ’65

Victoria Bonnell ’64

Tim G. Byrne ’81

Joseph W. Commit ’66

Eric Cooper ’84

Rachel Dale, MA ’20

Julia Davidovitz ’15

Sophie DeVito ’11

Cara DuBois, MA ’20

Sari Edelstein, Ph.D. ’09

Bruce Ehrlich ’81

Phyllis Ewen ’65

Marty Fassler ’65

Anne Marie Foley ’20

Laura Foner ’65

Becca Freifeld ’10

Elana Friedland ’11

Ethelyn Friend ’91

Robert Fromer ’62

Erica George ’00

Abbie Goldberg ’17

Ben Greenberg ’91

Larry Gross ’64

Noam Gundle ’98

Marina (Wangh) Gurman ’04

Barbara Haber ’60

Megan Healy

Roger Herzog ’80

Lev Hirschhorn ’11

Amanda Jane Hoffman ’11

Ra Malika Imhotep ’15

Susie Rosenberg Kaufman ’66

Dominick Knowles, ’22

Rivka Maizlish ’10

Shayna Medley ’12

Andrew Moore ’80

Rebecca Olson ’08

Judith Perlman Merbaum ’65

Joel Plotkin ’64

Chris Rohmann ’64

Prudence Ross ’20

Rita Scheer ’20

Linda Schlossberg, ’91

Ellen Schwartz ’69

Molly Stone ’15

Riley Thomas, ’19

Lawrence Wangh ’68

Stephen Wangh ’64

Daniel Weinstein ’71

Michael Weller ’64

Rebecca Weiss-Horowitz ’12