Queen's honorary degree for Jimmy Carter upsets Jewish alumni

November 16, 2012

Queen's University is facing backlash from Jewish alumni following its decision to award former US president Jimmy Carter -- a strong critic of Israel -- an honorary degree this Wednesday. The CEO of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) says his group has received about 50 "angry and frustrated inquiries" in the past month from Queen's graduates, who are worried their alma mater will be tarnished by Carter's view of Israel as an apartheid state and his controversial relationship with the Arab world. Carter and his wife are expected to attend convocation Wednesday to accept the degrees honouring "their philanthropic and advocacy work in areas such as housing and mental health," according to statement from Queen's principal Daniel Woolf on the institution's website. While he's sure Queen's fully intends to honour Carter for his human rights work, CIJA's CEO says the institution "failed to do their due diligence that would have flagged [his views on Israel] as problematic." One Queen's graduate says he had a "freakout moment" when he received news of the honorary degree in an alumni e-mail. The alumnus wrote a letter to Queen's chancellor David Dodge, then forwarded it to Woolf. The principal responded, in part, by saying: "While I regret that the committee's decision displeases you, it is a broad-based committee whose work we value and whose choices we support." National Post