This letter is in reference to the article entitled “Osher course on Israel canceled; course from ‘Palestinian perspective’ renewed,” appearing in the May 16, 2019, edition of the Jewish Chronicle. It is written on behalf of the board of directors of the nonprofit Osher Lifelong Learning Institute.
The Jewish Chronicle contacted the Osher office to inquire why the course had not been renewed; we declined to comment at that time because we considered this an internal matter that was properly and fairly reviewed. However, feedback from members of the community makes clear that the article conveys an important misconception about our program, which needs to be clarified.
For a study leader to have a course renewed and offered again, we require that the courses be taught competently, honestly, and fairly, and that our study leaders adhere to our established code of conduct.
It is important that your readers understand that the decision to turn down the renewal request was not due to the content of the course. For your readers information, in recent years, the Osher program has offered numerous courses dealing with various special topics that have been of interest to members of the Jewish and Muslim communities. Osher has had taught 17 courses focused on contemporary issues concerning Israel and her neighbors, 12 courses focused on Palestine and the Palestinian people, 12 courses related to Israeli archaeology and 6 courses concerned with opposing viewpoints in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. We will continue to welcome and offer courses in all of these areas as we find qualified individuals to teach them.
Going forward, we seek a positive relationship with the Jewish Chronicle and its readers, which motivates us to put out this clarification.
President, Osher at CMU Board of Directors