ACF-UMass Amherst Calls on Administration to Protect Jewish and Pro-Israel Students

Send Chancellor Reyes an Email!
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Dear Chancellor Reyes:

As proud Jewish and pro-Israel UMass Amherst alumni, we have a deep connection to our alma mater and a shared commitment to fostering an inclusive, respectful campus environment that is safe for Jewish and pro-Israel students.

On October 7, 1,200 Israelis were slaughtered and thousands more were wounded in a horrific terrorist attack by Hamas. In the following days and weeks, American colleges and universities have seen student groups endorse this terrorism and partake in a higher volume of antisemitic incidents. UMass Amherst must protect the safety and security of its Jewish students and their right to an equal education. 

We are writing to express our concerns about recent developments on campus, particularly those related to UMass Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), UMass Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), and UMass Dissenters. We believe in the importance of free expression and open dialogue on college campuses, but recent incidents have raised serious questions about the adherence to UMass Amherst’s Student Code of Conduct. The use of inherently antisemitic slogans leads to a campus climate of violence and Jew hatred.

We request a thorough investigation into the activities of UMass SJP, UMass JVP, and UMass Dissenters. We also urge you to consider following the steps of Brandeis and disbanding SJP and JVP for their open support of Hamas and its terrorism. We ask for the unequivocal ban of slogans such as “From the River to the Sea, Palestine will be free,” and calls for “intifada.” Both incite violence against Israel and Jews. The following are examples of ways that these types of slogans have led to a campus climate that is actively unsafe for Jewish students:

- October 10: The Graduate Employee Organization UAW 2322 released a statement that fully blamed Israel for the Hamas massacre of Israeli civilians.

- October 11: SJP and Interlink Publishing hosted an event titled, “Israel, Palestine, and the Claims of Belonging: A Conversation of Jews and Palestinians.” At this event, both speakers and audience members condoned Hamas’ massacre, torture, kidnapping, and rape as justified resistance as evidenced by this direct quote from an SJP member, “We believe in freedom by any means necessary [and] we support the Palestinian resistance with absolutely everything we have.”

- October 11: SJP released a “Statement of Solidarity and Response to Chancellor Reyes” that again condoned the atrocities of Hamas. It went even further claiming, "We believe in freedom by any means necessary [and] we support the Palestinian resistance with absolutely everything we have,” and “In engaging with Zionists, we are legitimizing their positions and, in effect, corroborating those positions. We refuse to do that.”

- October 30: During an exchange with a pro-Israel individual on campus, Professor Rachel Weber refused to condemn terrorism, saying it's not a “yes or no question.” Weber also defended Hamas’s action and argued that one's perception of the attack depends on “when you start the clock.”

- November 3: A student punched a Jewish student in the head multiple times and kicked the Jewish student in the stomach who was holding an Israeli flag and then took the flag from the Jewish student, spit on it, and shredded it with a knife after having walked through a crowd and aggressively giving people the middle finger during the end of the UMass Hillel event, “Bring Them Home: Solidarity Walk and Installation.”

- November 9: SJP students surrounded the Whitmore Administration building with signs stating “From the River to the Sea, Palestine will be free,” and “Intifada! Intifada!”

We look forward to learning how UMass Amherst will work to maintain a campus community that values all of its members and is safe and welcoming for Jewish and pro-Israel students.

Thank you for your attention to this matter.

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