Elizabeth H. Bradley,
The undersigned members of the Vassar community and other concerned community members are appalled by the statement being circulated and endorsed by dozens of Vassar faculty members, titled “Vassar Community Stands with Palestinians” (the “Statement”) and promulgated on Vassar’s Google Apps for Education platform. We call on Vassar to take seriously its commitment to the safety and well-being of all of its students, including its Jewish students and its students who support Israel.
The Statement is filled with manifest untruths about Israel and is couched in the most inflammatory terms, including by characterizing Israel as “apartheid” and guilty of “ethnic cleansing” and “settler colonialism.” The Statement vilifies Israel for defending itself against more than 4000 rockets into Israel’s civilian population centers, without mentioning Hamas, the designated terrorist organization that launched these rockets and maintains a murderous tyranny in Gaza.
Hamas’ goal is the eradication of Israel and its Jewish population. The Statement’s signatories affirm the first part of Hamas’s goal, rejecting the “so-called peace process” and describing the notion that the conflict has two sides as “fiction.” They apparently have blinders regarding the second part of its goal.
The signatories also are oblivious to the impact that such inflammatory rhetoric is having in the US and around the world. There has been an explosion in antisemitic incidents; in the past two weeks, antisemitic incidents have risen by more than 50%. Jews are being beaten for wearing kipot or carrying Israel’s flag by antisemites acting in the name of anti-Zionism.
The signatories also have blinders as to who is being silenced when it comes to speaking about Israel. They congratulate themselves for their bravery in circulating the Statement, and assert that “educators who teach and speak about Palestine do so at great risk in a climate of censorship.” In reality, as we well know from our discussions with students and faculty over the past several years, nothing could be further from the truth. It is the supporters of the Jewish state who are forced to endure a climate of harassment and censorship where they are regularly vilified as racist and dissuaded from even talking about Israel, while anti-Zionist students, supported by faculty members, promote BDS resolutions, collude to ban Israeli scholars from campus and try to quash adoption of the IHRA definition of antisemitism. In an event occurring the semester before Covid shut down the campus, Israeli speaker Hen Mazzig was repeatedly interrupted by a mob of students shouting“from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” while he attempted to talk about indigenous Jews in the Middle East. At Vassar, to openly support Israel as a faculty member or student is to risk putting one’s career or academic record in jeopardy.
We call on the Vassar administration to:
- Issue a statement making clear that the “Vassar Community Stands with the Palestinians” statement is not endorsed by the college
- Issue a statement similar to the one that it released in response to the recent surge in Asian hate crimes, one that acknowledges the alarming spike in antisemitic incidents across the country and reassures its Jewish students in the strongest possible terms that Vassar condemns all forms of antisemitism
- Require that faculty engaging in such partisan activism do so on their own platform, not Vassar’s Google app