Author Archives: Sam Richardson

Taking A Bold Stand For Intellectual Diversity And Civil Dialogue At UVA

The primary mission of the Jefferson Council for the University of Virginia is to “Promote a culture of civil dialogue, the free exchange of competing ideas, and intellectual diversity throughout the University.” Since the advent of anti-Israel / anti-Jewish rhetoric and behaviors of questionable legality on Grounds, this goal has been brought into clear focus.

TJC first highlighted the experience of Jewish undergraduates at UVA in this space back in January. At that time, many students openly identifying as Jewish and in support of Israel against Hamas terrorists were publicly ostracized and threatened by pro-Hamas groups such as Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP). While most Jewish UVA students took a quiet, “don’t make things worse” approach to the anti-Jewish rhetoric and refuse to speak publicly or provide their names when documenting abuses, one of those students, Matan Goldstein, a first year who is also an Israeli, decided to take a visible stand. Matan called-out the anti-Jewish sentiment fueled by false history and inaccurate (at best) portrayal of the facts surrounding the events on October 7 and the subsequent war in Gaza. In addition to waving an Israeli flag during an SJP rally, Matan has appeared on local radio and spoken with passion to local groups regarding his experiences on Grounds since October 7. As expected, in response to his stand for Israel and truth, Matan has endured obvious anti-Jewish discrimination, harassment, and retaliation.

On May 17, attorneys for Matan Goldstein, Brown and Gavalier, filed suit under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 against the in the United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia. The defendants named include The Rector and Visitors of The University of Virginia, Rector Robert D. Hardie, President James E. Ryan, Faculty For Justice In Palestine UVA Chapter, and Students For Justice In Palestine at UVA. According to the filing, the suit is based on the defendant’s “individual and collective liability for gross misconduct and the impairment and deprivation of the Plaintiff’s right to live, study, learn, and thrive at a public university free of hate-based discrimination, abuse, harassment, and retaliation.” The complaint as filed can be accessed here.

It should be noted that UVA leadership has been given ample opportunity by the Jewish community and others to avoid this lawsuit, but no one in authority was interested in having the conversation.

Perhaps the most prescient note on how to realistically view our world in the complaint appears in the preface:

“We have come to know Man as he really is. After all, man is that being who invented the gas chambers of Auschwitz; however, he is also that being who entered those gas chambers upright, with the Lord’s Prayer or the Shema Yisrael on his lips.” — Rabbi Harold S. Kushner, as quoted in the preface to Viktor Frankl’s transcendent work, Man’s Search for Meaning.